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Mummy shake video encourages IPM in California almonds

Todd Fitchette wfp-todd-fitchette-navel-orangeworm-8.jpg
Mummy nuts (unharvested almonds in this case) can become homes to overwintering Navel orangeworm, adding to the insect pressure in early spring that can begin a cycle of nut destruction throughout the growing season. Almond growers are encouraged to remove these nuts during the dormant season to eliminate the habitat for these overwintering insects.
Almond Board promotes 2025 goal through video contest

As many good ideas go, this one started in 2018 with a brainstorm among communications professionals to promote a best management practice in almonds in a fun way. Borne out of that was the Almond Board of California's "Mummy Shake Mash Up."

Commonly called "mummy shaking," this practice is promoted among tree nut farmers to remove "stick tights," or simply those almonds, pistachios and walnuts that fail to fall from the trees during harvest. These nuts then become homes to over-wintering Navel orangeworms, which rob yields by making nuts unmarketable.

Ashley Knoblauch, spokesperson for the Almond Board of California, said the idea was to shed a little comedic light on a serious issue that could be combined with the Almond Board's 2025 goals. Included in these are increasing the adoption of environmentally friendly pest management tools. By promoting the removal of and destroying mummy nuts through mechanical means, growers will be able to reduce their insecticide treatments while producing a larger marketable crop.

This year's Mummy Shake video is online, as are the previous two years' worth of entries that includes a remake of the graveyard smash 1962 song by Bobby Pickett "Monster Mash." That remake was written and is sung by James Garner, a singer, songwriter the Almond Board works with to promote the need to mummy shake orchards in the winter.

The winner this year of the annual contest is the Kennard-Hall family of Rancho Viejo Farms in Lindsay, Calif., though I think the real winners will be the viewers as honorable mentions including the Fields family, Holtermann family and Turlock High School FFA. You won't be disappointed by the production.

Winner of the 2018 inaugural contest was as appropriate as it was well-done by several farm families. University of California Entomologist David Haviland's family performed the winning mash up with a nod to Harry Potter. Haviland is the IPM specialist who regularly coaches growers on insect control and the important role winter sanitation plays in reducing NOW populations throughout the season.

The Scheel family from the Ripon/Manteca area won the 2019 contest with an interpretive dance by Amber Scheel while donned in typical mummy attire.

Important as the Almond Board's 2025 goals are, including the IPM and the Almond Board's recommendation to not ignore winter sanitation, the idea to have a little fun to promote these ideas is a good one, particularly in a year where low almond prices and the concern of growing pollination prices this spring give pause to ideas that can be accused of eating profits. We've already seen the excel spreadsheets and heard the recommendations from groups like Blue Diamond Growers that say the cost of winter sanitation can easily be recovered through quality bonuses.

If nothing else, the Almond Board's video contest is a good outlet to give children with lots of energy and creative ideas the chance to play to the camera and perhaps create the next viral video.

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