OAKDALE, Calif., May 22, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Burchell Nursery, California's leading innovator in fruit and nut trees for almost 75 years for commercial and home gardeners across the West, has introduced its newest variety, LONE STAR, a truly self-fertile almond tree in direct response to the needs of almond farmers:
Barry Baker, 54, of Baker Farming Company in California's Central Valley, has decided to remove 20 percent of his almond trees, adding that sooner or later neighboring farmers will come to the same conclusion. "They're hoping for the best. I don't think it's going to come."
Baker explained the math leading to his decision. Between now and the summer almond harvest, he would need to irrigate his orchards with scarce, expensive water and pay to have the trees pruned and sprayed. Bringing in beehives to pollinate the blossoms costs nearly $500 an acre.
That all would amount to a $2.5 million gamble, without knowing if the next couple of months will bring significant rain to the valley floor and snow to the mountains. "You'd have wrapped a lot of money up in those trees to see what happens" he said.
LONE STAR was painstakingly developed – by Burchell's John Slaughter, the industry's only in-house Plant Breeder, after hundreds of crosses -- specifically to save farmers money by requiring 50-66% fewer bees; less care during the growing season; fewer chemicals; and a single harvest. LONE STAR almonds are larger, which garner higher prices from buyers; and break less easily along the production line, which also sell for higher prices than almond pieces.
Traditionally, most almond growers have planted multiple varieties of almonds and placed multiple hives of bees per acre to ensure pollination (all almond varieties are somewhat self-fertile, but not truly self-fertile alone). But this practice mandated multiple fertilization schedules, multiple watering schedules, multiple chemical sprays and multiple harvests…in additional to more bees…which all cost farmers more money than the new LONE STAR from Burchell Nursery.
- LONE STAR almonds have more tightly closed shells, keeping more insects out during the growing season, thus requiring less chemical sprays.
- Bee colony collapse has caused hive prices to double in the last year alone, yet LONE STAR requires 50-66% fewer bees per acre.
- LONE STAR trees grow bigger nuts, the kind preferred, and paid more for, by buyers.
- LONE STAR almonds have thinner shells, so the "crack out" on the production line results in a higher percentage of whole almonds to almonds pieces, for which buyers pay more.
Burchell Nursery is a third-generation family commercial nursery, who has always been more concerned with consistency and quality than quick profits, often taking 10+ years to develop a new variety, and 20+ years to develop a new rootstock. Anything less just risks introducing possible diseases and over-estimating actual yields, a gamble that Burchell just won't take.
SOURCE Burchell Nursery