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  • Author or Editor: Natalia J. Ott x
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Young almond (Prunus amygdalus) orchards replanted where old orchards of stone fruits (Prunus sp.) have been removed are subject to physical, chemical, and biotic stressors. Among biotic challenges, for example, is almond/stone fruit replant disease (ARD; formally known as Prunus replant disease), which specifically suppresses the growth and yields of successive almond and other stone fruit plantings and is caused, in part, by a soil microbial complex. During four orchard trials representing different almond replant practices and scenarios in the San Joaquin Valley in California, we examined the impacts of phosphorus (P) fertilization on the growth of replanted almond. During all trials, P was applied to tree root zones just after replanting, and the impact was assessed according to trunk cross-sectional area (TCSA) growth for 2 years. Expt. 1 was performed where a previous almond orchard was cleared using whole orchard recycling (i.e., the old orchard was “chipped” and then turned into the soil). The land was replanted without preplant soil fumigation. We tested separate fertilizer treatments based on various P, nitrogen, micronutrient, and “complete” formulations. Expt. 2 was also performed where an old almond orchard was recycled, but the soil was preplant-fumigated before replanting. Here, we tested only P fertilization. Expts. 3 and 4 were conducted where an old peach (Prunus persica) orchard was removed. Here, P and nitrogen fertilizer treatments were tested among additional factors, including preplant soil fumigation (Expts. 3, 4) and whole orchard recycling chips (Expt. 4). During all four trials, P fertilization (P at 2.2 to 2.6 oz/tree within a few weeks after planting) significantly increased TCSA growth. The growth benefit was nuanced, however, by almond cultivar, date of replanting, rootstock, and other site-specific factors. Although P fertilization did not match the benefit of preplant soil fumigation for the management of ARD, our data indicated that P fertilization can improve the growth of young almond orchards in diverse replant settings with or without preplant soil fumigation and should be considered by California almond producers as a general best management practice.

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