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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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Research Project: Synchronizing Pollinators with Almond Bloom: Part One, An Environmental Covariate for the Dennis/kemp Model

Location: Insect Genetics and Biochemistry Research

2013 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
Improve site specific synchronization and establishment of pollinators (Blue Orchard Bee) with almond bloom through Fluctuating Thermal Protocols (insect storage) and the use of the Dennis/Kemp phenology model.


1b.Approach (from AD-416):
Almond pollination in the Central Valley of CA is unique in that it requires massive pollinator populations to be deployed over vast acreages for a relatively brief interval (2-3 weeks). This requires extensive resources to be devoted to staging pollinator populations so they are active when the “flash bloom” of this crop occurs each year. Currently, easily deployed site specific bloom forecasting is unavailable and there is interest among beekeepers and almond growers for improved forecasting tools that will assist in real time adjustments to artificial and in-orchard incubation protocols (Blue Orchard Bee) and staging/delivery (Honey Bees). We will employ applicable statistical research in the development and testing of an environmental covariate (chilling degreeday - based) to expand the Dennis/Kemp Phenology Model (Dennis et al 1986 Environ. Entomol. 15:540-546; Dennis & Kemp 1988 Environ. Entomol. 17:887-893) for predictive use in the annual progression of bud development through bloom of the 7-8 most common almond varieties; we have used this construct successfully in other insect and plant systems. Improved almond bloom estimates will in turn be used to develop Blue Orchard Bee Fluctuating Thermal Protocols for both artificial and in-orchard incubation. In addition to two-three anticipated peer reviewed articles, we envision a future collaboration with Blue Diamond which will make improved bloom forecasting accessible to almond growers throughout the entire Central Valley of CA.


3.Progress Report:

Applicable statistical research has been initiated for the development and testing of an environmental covariate (chilling degreeday - based) to expand the Dennis/Kemp Phenology Model (Dennis et al 1986 Environ. Entomol. 15:540-546; Dennis & Kemp 1988 Environ. Entomol. 17:887-893) for predictive use in the annual progression of bud development through bloom for the 7-8 most common California almond varieties.

In addition, a site visit was conducted, June 16-19, 2013, by the University of Idaho collaborator at the USDA-ARS Red River Valley Agricultural Research Center in Fargo, ND for the purposes of assisting the project computer programmer with the translation of the DK Phenology model from Turbo Pascal to R. The project team accomplished: (1) a working and tested core R program to accomplish the statistical calculations for fitting the Dennis-Kemp model to data, (2) the development of much improved confidence intervals for model parameters based on bootstrapping.

The project is continuing on schedule for the completion of objectives as stipulated in the original plan of work.


Last Modified: 9/22/2014
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