Indio Store Hosting Open House

Customers invited to get a first look at newly combined RDO Water / RDO Equipment Co. store RDO-Agriculture

Author: RDO Water

RDO Water / RDO Equipment Co. in Indio is hosting an open house on Thursday, November 17 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Customers and individuals interested in learning more about complete agriculture equipment and irrigation solutions are encouraged to attend the event to meet the team, tour the store, and enjoy lunch.

A full-service John Deere agriculture dealer, RDO Equipment Co. offers both new and used equipment, vast parts inventories, and service departments with highly-trained, certified technicians in all stores.

Bruce Daughters, Vice President of RDO Water, says he’s eager to show both RDO Equipment Co. and RDO Water customers the advantages of working with a single enterprise. “We’re poised to offer Indio growers solutions for their agriculture equipment and irrigation needs, as well as access to new opportunities” he said.

RDO Water’s full irrigation offerings include pipe and system rental, pipe and pump repair, system automation, consulting, design and installation services, and products including drip tape, sprinkler heads, and fertilizer.
Team members from RDO Equipment Co. and RDO Water will be available to answer questions and talk with attendees about the products, services, and support offered.

“The RDO Equipment Co. team is really looking forward to the opportunity to meet RDO Water customers,” Joe Castillo, General Manager of RDO Equipment Co. in Indio said.

To learn more about the open house, contact your account manager, or stop by or call RDO Water in Indio.

Applications for Drones in Agriculture

Type of imagery plays major role in desired applications Drone-Agriculture

Author: Nate Dorsey, RDO Equipment Co.

The June 2016 update to the FAA’s Part 107 regulations for flying drones is just one factor contributing to the increase of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) use in several industries, including agriculture. But that’s only half of the story. As anyone in business knows, in order for a tool to make sense on a worksite, it first has to make sense on the bottom line.

In order to see a return from a drone investment on your farm, you need to know how to use a drone to save time, improve efficiency, and increase yields. Then, the real key to unlocking the true value of a drone comes from understanding the technology behind it.

Aerial Imagery
The high-quality images produced by drones are used for everything from pre-season scouting to monitoring crop health to identifying equipment issues. Drones produce three common image types:

Color (RGB)

-RGB images are similar to photos from a regular camera. They’re easy to understand, even for the novice drone user, but are the least descriptive of the three types.

Near Infrared (NIR)

-NIR provides images with higher levels of detail than those produced by RGB by utilizing color bands outside the light spectrum visible to the human eye.

Normalized Difference Vegetative Index (NDVI)

-NDVI uses both visible and near-infrared sunlight reflection to measure biomass (vegetation). Similar to NIR imagery, NDVI provides a higher level of detail than RGB images.

Each of these image types play an important role in the various applications for which drones are used.

Pre-Planning
The coverage area, vantage point, and speed a drone provides makes it a great tool for pre-season scouting. Using standard RGB imagery, the drone can produce 3D maps used for soil evaluations, topography reviews, and identification of drainage issues.

By gathering, reviewing, and evaluating this mapping data prior to planting, you only have a complete view of the whole area, but you may be able to identify problems and adjust planting strategy before, rather than during, the season.

In-Season Assessment
The primary advantage of drones over a manual scouting process is speed. An area normally monitored by a crop scout in several hours can be covered in a single, quick drone flight. This allows for one of the most common uses of drones in agriculture – ongoing monitoring of crop health throughout the season. NIR imagery is most valuable in this process for several reasons.

First, NIR images show heat so they can easily identify areas of plant and water stress. Their high level of detail offers additional applications such as weed detection, defining management zones, evaluating effectiveness of ponding and water management, and quantifying machinery-induced crop limiting factors. This ability to identify concerns and intervene quickly is directly linked to a better year-end harvest.

There are uses for RGB images in-season as well. They’re often used to identify planter skips and evaluate areas of lost production, allowing you to correct the problems.

Long-Term Analysis
In addition to their immediate help before and during the season, drone use can be beneficial over long periods of time. Like RGB and NIR, NDVI images can also show ponding, help assess crop vigor, and show changes in field conditions over time.

NDVI images measure the amount of biomass or “greenness” of a plant and create an index, which is then compared to areas of less vegetation and more vegetation. The numbers range from -1 to +1, with high amounts of biomass and green vegetation having increasingly positive numbers.

NDVI values are very sensitive to anything that affects light, such as haze, clouds, or even soil. For this reason, NDVI images are most effective in optimum conditions.

Bottom line: A drone is a helpful tool that can provide quality data and images but it’s up to you to analyze data and use it to make the best decisions for the crop and your farm.

Read the entire version of this article, recently featured in Progressive Forage Grower magazine.

To learn more about drones, contact the team at RDO Integrated Controls.

RDO Water in Indio Moves to RDO Equipment Co. Store

Agriculture equipment, parts and service, and irrigation solutions now in one location RDO-Equipment-Co

Author: RDO Water

RDO Water and RDO Equipment Co. announce RDO Water in Indio has relocated into the existing RDO Equipment Co. store at 83-300 Avenue 45. The move brings to the store RDO Water’s full irrigation solutions including pipe and system rental; pipe and pump repair; system automation, design and installation services; consulting services; and products including drip tape, sprinkler heads and fertilizer.

RDO Equipment Co. in Indio is a full-service John Deere agriculture and construction equipment dealer with both new and used equipment, a vast parts inventory, and highly-trained service department. Not only does moving to a larger building enhance RDO Water’s offerings, it opens additional opportunities for customers as well.

“We want to provide our customers with the opportunities and solutions they need to be successful,” Bruce Daughters, Vice President of RDO Water said. “By combining our agricultural equipment, service, and irrigation solutions, we’re offering customers new opportunities and ways to enhance their business, enabling them to maximize that success.”

In addition to the Indio store, RDO Equipment Co. and RDO Water have combo stores in Salinas and Watsonville, California. The company has 16 total stores throughout the state of California.

A grand opening celebration is planned at the Indio store. Customers and partners can stay up-to-date on details by visiting the RDO Water and RDO Equipment Co. websites.

Pistachio Growers Wrap Up Record Harvest

Minimal insect damage and “blanks” found in this year’s crop California-Pistachios

Author: Tim Hearden, Capital Press

Pistachio growers in the San Joaquin Valley are wrapping up their harvest of a bumper crop that’s set to easily surpass the record 555 million pounds produced in 2012.

Growers are taking heavy hauls while finding very little insect damage, said Richard Matoian, executive director of the Fresno-based American Pistachio Growers.

The group has estimated this crop will end up weighing in at between 650 million and 800 million pounds.

“As I’ve talked with growers, the harvest has gone really well across the board,” Matoian said. “There’s no trailer-busters or over-the-top huge crops, but every orchard seems to be running pretty heavy.”

Trees were loaded with nuts after achieving sufficient chill hours last winter for the first time in three years and after last winter’s rains improved drought conditions in many orchards.

The big crop is a contrast to last season, when the drought and a lack of winter chilling hours caused growers to encounter an inordinate amount of “blanks” — fully formed shells in which a nut never developed.

This year’s percentage of blanks was closer to normal, or about 10 percent of the crop, Matoian said. What growers are dealing with this season is closed shells, but they can open them up mechanically, he said.

“The other thing I’m hearing is that staining on the shells is low,” he said. Hulls that adhere to the pistachio shell can cause discoloration, which can affect quality, he said.

While walnut and almond growers in California are trying to rebound from a steep drop in prices, wholesale pistachio prices from last year to this year are only off about 15 percent, Matoian said.

Growers have initially been guaranteed between $1.70 and $1.80 per pound, but that will likely go up via a negotiated “marketing bonus” at the season’s end. Farms ended up receiving roughly $3.50 per pound for their 2014 crop.

Matoian expects the worldwide market to be “pretty much on par with last year,” when California’s light crop was offset by big crops in other parts of the world. This year, it’s California that has the big crop, he said.

“We’re going to be able to regain a lot of export-country share that we had lost in the last year,” Matoian said. “That’s my belief.”

Full article shared from Capital Press website.

Demand for Brussel Sprouts is Booming

Growers are seeing good yields, good quality, and good prices Brussel-Sprouts

Author: Kevin Hecteman, Ag Alert

Remember when kids made funny faces at the dinner table when they were presented with a plate of Brussels sprouts?

Yeah, not so much anymore. These days, people are eating them faster than Steve Bontadelli can grow them.

Despite expanding his acreage beyond the Santa Cruz area, “we still haven’t been able to catch up with demand,” he said. “The market is still strong. But we’re doing our best.”

Santa Cruz County had 1,129 acres planted to Brussels sprouts in 2015, according to the county’s crop report. Those acres produced about $16.4 million worth of sprouts. About 300 of those acres in the Santa Cruz area have Bontadelli’s name on them; other growers he works with have close to 300 acres among them. Through a partnership, Bontadelli has additional land in Oceanside and Mexico for winter planting and harvesting.

So far, 2016 has been kind.

“It looks really good,” Bontadelli said of his crop. “We started harvesting by hand in July; that’s just now winding up as we’re moving into the machine harvest part. Quality’s been excellent. It was a perfect growing summer because of all the fog we had. They really like that cool summer weather.”

Too much heat results in leafy, fluffy sprouts, he added. Buyers should look for “a nice green color, no yellow leaves, firm compact heads, inch and a quarter or so in diameter.”

As of last week, a 25-pound carton of Brussels sprouts was going for $30, still a high price, Bontadelli said.

“Records have been broken for the last couple of years,” he said. “It was $40 for a month last year, which a few years ago was unheard of.”

The harvest in Monterey County is looking good, too.

“So far, production here in Salinas and Monterey County has been off to a great start,” said Katie Harreld, sales manager and Brussels sprouts commodities manager at Ippolito International in Salinas. “We’re seeing very good yields, very good quality, and production continues to pick up each week as we get more and more into the fall and ready for the big holiday pushes we get in November and December.”

Ippolito has sprouts growing in Monterey County, Oxnard and Mexico to help keep up with demand. Acreage has increased each year, Harreld said. She attributed the growing popularity of Brussels sprouts to chefs looking for new dishes to prepare.

“You’re seeing Brussels sprouts on so many menus now in restaurants, on a lot of the cooking shows that you see on TV and a lot of the food magazines,” Harreld said. “They’re being prepared so many different ways now. The creativity the chefs are using is giving people more ways to taste them than they ever did before—they were just getting steamed and boiled—but it’s just each year the demand and the pull just gets larger and larger. They’ve almost become an everyday vegetable.”

That growth led Bontadelli to look for ways to boost production. One way is to begin harvesting earlier in the year.

“The reason we hand-harvest is to get them sooner,” he said. “The plant naturally develops from the bottom up. In order to machine-harvest them, they all need to be the same size. So you go in, you pinch the terminal bud on the plant about 60 days before your harvest time. The sprouts on the bottom are maybe a half-inch diameter. That stops the plant from growing, and the sprouts all even up, become about the same size on the stem, so that you can pretty much harvest everything that’s on the plant.

“So you pick them by hand … the bottom ones get to be an inch, inch and a quarter in diameter, and you just pick the bottom two or three rings. You water them, you come back a couple of weeks later and pick another couple of rings and work your way up the plant as the sprouts mature, which allows you to start harvesting in 90 days instead of 150 days that you have to wait for them to be all the same size.

“It’s a lower-volume thing,” Bontadelli said. “There didn’t used to be very much demand in June or July for Brussels sprouts. It was more corn or watermelon.”

Bontadelli is a fourth-generation farmer; his father and uncle developed the Brussels-sprout operation in the 1960s, he said.

“They were growing strawberries, broccoli, cauliflower, a lot of the things that we grow here on the Central Coast,” Bontadelli said. “When the Brussels sprouts started becoming popular in this area, we found that they grew very well. They made the decision to be a bigger fish in a smaller pond rather than the small fish in the big pond.”

Ippolito is another of those big fish. The company describes itself as the largest grower and shipper of fresh-market Brussels sprouts in North America. Harreld said her company sends the vegetables all over the United States and into Canada; others find their way onto cruise ships sailing out of Florida. Harreld said her company has been able to keep up with demand, but it’s not easy.

“One of the challenges with Brussels sprouts is they’re a very long crop, from when it’s planted to when it’s harvested,” Harreld said.

“Brussels sprouts can be a six- to seven-month crop depending on the time of year,” she added. “That can pose a challenge when trying to keep up with that demand because it’s hard to make a quick reaction. You’ve got to be really on top of your numbers and your plantings.”

Bontadelli, of course, highly recommends adding these sprouts to one’s diet.

“They’re really good for you,” Bontadelli said. “They have more vitamin C than an orange, high in (vitamin) A and folic acid, a lot of anti-cancer benefits, too,” he said.

Kevin Hecteman is an assistant editor of Ag Alert.

Full article shared from Ag Alert, with credit to the California Farm Bureau Federation.

Toro’s Inge Bisconer to Receive Award

Bisconer recognized for outstanding contributions to the irrigation industryThe-Toro-Company

Author: The Toro Company

The Toro Company is pleased to announce that Inge Bisconer, technical marketing and sales manager for Toro’s Micro-Irrigation Business, will receive the Irrigation Association’s Industry Achievement Award for 2016.

Established in 1966, the Irrigation Association Industry Achievement Award recognizes employees or retirees from the irrigation industry that have demonstrated outstanding contributions to the advancement of the industry and its products and programs.

In her 35 years in the industry, Bisconer has established herself as a leader in helping agricultural growers improve profitability and sustainability through improved water and resource use efficiency, in addition to serving as an advocate for more efficient irrigation at both the state and national level. Bisconer’s recent achievements include:

  • Created Toro’s education portfolio, including: the award-winning Toro Micro-Irrigation Owner’s Manual, which helps educate growers of row, field and permanent crops about the proper design, installation, operation and maintenance of drip irrigation systems and complements; Toro’s AquaFlow design software; Drip Irrigation Payback Wizard; and, Solutions Brochures.
  • Recorded the “Agriculture Industry Response to California’s Drought” presentation at the invitation of the University of California’s Agriculture and Natural Resource Division for their Water and Drought Seminar Series.
  • Served on the California Irrigation Institute (CII) board of directors since 2010, and as president in 2014.CII is California’s oldest independent forum on irrigation and water.
  • Participated in the Irrigation Association’s “DC Fly-in” and “Agriculture Irrigation Technology Day on Capitol Hill” in 2013 and 2015 to advocate on behalf of efficient agricultural irrigation.
  • Presented on “Optimizing Irrigation Uniformity and Water Use Efficiency” to the East San Joaquin Water Quality Coalition, which represents 3,500 California landowners who farm 700,000 acres.
  • Co-host of monthly agriculture segments for The Water Zone, an award-winning radio show on KCAA 1050 AM that is sponsored by Toro. High profile guests from agriculture, industry, academia, government, water agencies and associations have helped move the California water discussion forward.
  • Presented numerous webinars on The Grange Network, including: Making Drip Pay, The Toro Micro-Irrigation Owner’s Manual, Designing for Uniformity with Toro’s AquaFlow Design Software, Drip Irrigation System Operation and Maintenance, Overcoming Drip Irrigation Uniformity Challenges using Aqua-Traxx® FC Flow Control Drip Tape, and California Irrigation Institute 2014 Conference Wrap-Up.
  • Led efforts for The Toro Company to be invited to participate in The White House Water Summit on March 22, 2016, highlighting Toro’s innovation and initiatives in water use efficiency for agriculture, golf and grounds, commercial and residential.
  • Represented the agricultural irrigation industry in July 2015 at the Efficient Agriculture Irrigation Stakeholder Meeting, hosted by California Governor Edmund Gerald “Jerry” Brown’s office and the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) at the Capitol in Sacramento

“It is an honor to have my efforts recognized by such an important industry membership association like the Irrigation Association,” says Bisconer. “Toro’s steadfast support has enabled me to broaden education and outreach efforts, which will ultimately affect change toward improved water use efficiency in local and global agriculture.”

Bisconer is a prime example of Toro’s attitude and dedication to enrich the beauty, productivity and sustainability of the land. “Toro’s legacy of innovation is rooted in the passionate employees who dedicate their lives to supporting our communities and the environment,” says Phil Burkart, vice president for Toro’s Irrigation and Lighting Businesses. “We have always known what an important asset Inge and those like her are to the industry. We congratulate her on this achievement and are immensely proud to have her on our team.”

Bisconer will be formally presented with the Industry Achievement Award at the Irrigation Association Show and Conference that will be held in Las Vegas, Nevada, in December 2016.

Full article shared from Toro Drip Tips website.

Salinas and Watsonville Stores Hosting Open Houses

 Attendees invited to meet the staff, learn more about full company offerings, and enjoy lunch RDO-Equipment

Author: RDO Water

RDO Equipment Co. / RDO Water in Salinas and Watsonville are hosting open house events for customers and individuals interested in learning more about complete agriculture equipment and irrigation solutions.

The Salinas event takes place on Thursday, October 6, while Watsonville’s event is happening on Friday, October 7. Both events will begin at 11 a.m. and end at 1 p.m., during which time the stores will be open for tours and lunch. Team members from RDO Equipment Co. and RDO Water will be available to answer questions and talk with attendees about the products, services, and support offered.

As a full-service John Deere agriculture dealer, RDO Equipment Co. stores offer both new and used equipment, vast parts inventories, and service departments with highly-trained, certified technicians.

“We’ve been proud to partner with agricultural professionals in Monterey and Santa Cruz counties,” Darrell Olson, General Manager of RDO Equipment Co. in Salinas and Watsonville said. “I personally look forward to seeing our longtime customers, as well as meet new ones.”

Bruce Daughters, Vice President of RDO Water, echoed Olson’s enthusiasm, saying, “We have unique strength in the Salinas and Watsonville stores, with RDO Equipment Co. and RDO Water operating under one roof. Our team is eager to show customers the advantages of working with a single enterprise for their agriculture equipment and irrigation needs.”

RDO Water’s full irrigation solutions include pipe and system rental, pipe and pump repair, system automation, consulting, design and installation services, and products including drip tape, sprinkler heads, and fertilizer.

To learn more about the open houses or offerings from RDO Equipment Co. / RDO Water in Salinas and Watsonville, contact your local store.

Micro-Sprinklers in Strawberry Production Saves Water

Research study conducted in partnership with RDO Water Strawberry-Micro-Sprinkler

Author: RDO Water

In October 2014, a 10-month research study began on the use of micro-sprinklers in strawberry production. RDO Water was a key participant in the study, conducted at Manzanita Berry Farms in Santa Maria, CA, in partnership with University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources Cooperative Extension.

RDO Water released its results and analysis of the study in January of this year. Earlier this month, UC published a story specific to the water-savings discovered in the study, as included below.

The Issue
Water is an important resource for growing plants, and it has become scarce due to epic drought conditions in California. Conserving water through improved irrigation practices is critical for maintaining acreage of a lucrative commodity such as strawberry. Strawberry growers typically provide supplemental irrigation through overhead aluminum sprinklers to mitigate the dry conditions of the region. However, they can be inefficient systems, because they require a significant amount of water, and because there is plastic mulch on the beds, which limits the water that enters the soil and increases runoff potential. Micro-sprinklers, commonly used in orchard systems, could offer an efficient alternative to conventional aluminum sprinklers.

What Has ANR Done?
A study was conducted at Manzanita Berry Farms in Santa Maria during the 2014–2015 production season to evaluate the potential of micro-sprinklers in strawberry production. The study compared conventional aluminum sprinklers with micro-sprinklers on about one hundred and twenty 330-foot-long strawberry beds. Data were collected on the amount of water distributed, electrical conductivity of soil that determines salt condition, strawberry yield, and the incidence and severity of powdery mildew and botrytis fruit rot. While there were no conclusive findings about diseases, there were significant water savings without a negative impact on fruit yield. Detailed information about the study design and findings can be found at: http://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcorepostdetail.cfm?postnum=19699.

The Payoff
Significant water savings without additional maintenance costs.
This study demonstrated 32% water savings in just 3 weeks of using the micro-sprinkler system. This new information can inform future growing practices for this important California crop, valued at $2.2 billion. An initial estimate by a vendor suggests that equipment and handling costs of the micro-sprinklers are more or less similar to those of the aluminum sprinklers. If adopted, strawberry growers could conserve resources without incurring additional maintenance costs or experiencing any changes to strawberry yield.

 

To learn more about micro-sprinklers, contact Danilu Ramirez at dramirez@rdowater or a local  RDO Water store. The full list of RDO Water’s eight locations in Arizona and California can be found at http://rdowater.com/contact.

 

Full article shared from UC Delivers, with credit to Dr. Surendra Dara.

Record California Walnut Crop at 670,000 Tons

2016 crop is 11 percent larger than last year Walnut-grower

Author: Cary Blake, Western Farm Press

California English walnut growers are poised to produce about 670,000 tons of nuts, up 11 percent from last year’s production of 603,000 tons, according to a survey by the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) at Sacramento.

NASS’ 2016 Walnut O.M. Survey utilized a total of 729 blocks with two sample trees per block. Survey data suggested average nut set at 1,406 per tree, up 11 percent from last year’s 1,272.

In the survey, 2016 statewide percent of sound kernels in-shell was 98.7 percent with the in-shell weight per nut at 21.6 grams. The average in-shell suture measurement was 32.2 millimeters. The in-shell cross-width measurement was 32.7 and the average length in-shell was 38.2 millimeters.

All sizing measurements were below average levels since 1985.

NASS says the 2016 walnut season began with fair amounts of winter moisture and adequate chilling hours. Weather during the walnut bloom was average – a mix of ideal days and others with stronger winds and wet weather.

Rain during the spring moths increased blight chances.

Full article shared from Western Farm Press website.

FAA Part 107 Test Info

Three things to know to prepare for your test RDO_Integrated_Controls

Author: RDO Integrated Controls

The Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) new small drone rule –known as Part 107 – went into effect on August 29. If you’re confused by what Part 107 means to you, we’ve provided three key components to help make sense of it:

Understand the process.
The FAA clearly describes what to expect if you are an existing FAA Pilot or if you are starting from scratch.

Free study materials online.
Sharpen those pencils! The FAA has a great online, free study material guide. You can also take the online course and even take a sample exam at the end.

Find your test Location
Don’t be in the dark when it comes to finding your nearest testing facility. Check out the official list of FAA testing locations.

One unique service that RDO Integrated Controls offers is an FAA Compliance Package. These customers have access to an FAA consulting team, which includes a personal Ground School instructor available to answer your questions and guide you through your preparation, as well as keep customers informed about changes and announcements from the FAA and Part 107 Compliance tips and tricks.

Full article shared from RDO Integrated Controls website. To learn more about the RDOIC FAA Compliance Package, or for any UAV-related questions, contact the RDOIC team.