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Almond Conference anticipates big turnout

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NEW HOME: Downtown Sacramento’s newly renovated SAFE Credit Union Convention Center, shown in this rendering, will host the Almond Conference Dec. 7-9.
‘Rooted in Success’ is the theme of the Dec. 7-9 gathering at Sacramento’s convention center.

Last year’s Almond Conference was pushed into the virtual world by COVID-19, but the conference returns in person this year, with a theme of “Rooted In Success,” as a three-day, live event at the newly-renovated convention center in Sacramento.

“These gatherings are enormously productive for people in our industry,” said Almond Board of California past chairman Kent Stenderup. The Dec. 7-9 event is expected to draw some 4,000 participants to experience keynote speakers, educational sessions, a giant trade show, and networking events. The virtual 2020 conference drew participants from 45 countries and 35 states.

“Rooted in Success” will focus on the foundation of the industry’s growth covering innovative research, strategic market development, and rapid adoption of industry best practices --- production and consumer research, regulatory updates, global market developments, sustainable farming practices, and the like.

The conference returns to downtown Sacramento after a three-year absence. The 2019 gathering was held at Cal Expo, home of the state fair, amid the SAFE Credit Union Convention Center’s ongoing renovation.

“Being in-person this year presents an opportunity for farmers to collaborate with researchers and their peers on responsible farming practices — particularly important as California faces yet another dry year,” said ABC President/CEO Richard Waycott.

It’s a jam-packed agenda kicked off with a welcome by Waycott and ABC Chairman Brian Wahlbrink before a slew of sessions gets underway.  Choose from Growing (or Selling) a 2 Billion Pound Crop; Plant Nutrition Management (Part 1 and 2); Being Profitable, Being Sustainable; The Regulatory Environment; Sustainable Almond Pest Management; Harvesting the Sun to Shake the ‘L’ out of your Electricity Bill, and the traditional State of the Industry luncheon.

In that luncheon, Waycott is slated to discuss 2020-2021 almond crop records — from the number of pounds harvested to the staggering amount of product sent around the world.  In prepared remarks, the ABC CEO will note: “This past year the industry produced over 3.1 billion pounds with exports topping 2 billion pounds for the first time in its history, evidence of a strong global demand.  With carryover of just under 600 million pounds and a NASS Objective estimate of 2.8 billion pounds for the current crop, the industry will be creative in keeping demand growing ahead of supply.”

Breakout sessions

At least two dozen breakout sessions are planned to cover topics ranging from the current water supply — or lack thereof — to future root stock selection.

In the Dec. 8 session on the 2022 Outlook for Water Supply Challenges/Solutions, panelists will discuss the lingering drought and looming SGMA restrictions.  Advance publicity advises: “California’s climatic and regulatory environments will present major challenges to growers in need of reliable water supplies.  Department of Water Resources experts will outline how next year’s water supplies are shaping up --- along with opportunities to increase those supplies through groundwater recharge."

Later that day, experts from the USDA and the European Union will speak to global demand for almonds via the export market and how the trade winds and political winds are blowing to achieve growth in that market.  Also up for discussion are plans for the U.S. government to resume its leadership role at the World Trade Organization and a progress report on pending trade negotiations.

Another 12/8 session involves ABC’s Sebastian Saa, with support from UCANR’s Mae Culumber and Luke Milliron and UC Davis’ Maciej Zwienieck, in a round-robin discussion of Trees and Deficit Water Supply— how almond trees actually function, their yield potential, and real-case scenarios that farm advisors have experienced during the crop season just ended.

Other sessions that day and next include proper stockpile management (moisture management, proper tarp use, aflatoxin contamination); trunk and scaffold diseases; precision orchard management irrigation; rootstock selection as a tool to address pests/diseases/soil challenges; an update on the ag industry container shipping crisis; food safety concerns, and a review of mating disruption options and incentives — along with several other sessions still being formulated.

For updated information and registration requirements for the 49th annual event, log on to almonds.com/conference.

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