Climate change impacts on insect pests for high value specialty crops in California

California is a global leader in production and supply of walnuts and almonds, and the state is the largest producer of peaches in the U.S. These crops have an important contribution to the California's agricultural economy. Damages to these crops from lepidopteran pests, mainly from Codling moth (Cydia pomonella) (family: Tortricidae), Peach twig borer (Anarsia lineatella) (family: Gelechiidae) and Oriental fruit moth (Grapholita molesta) (family: Tortricidae), are still high, despite the improvement in pest management activities. Given that temperature increase can directly impact the rate of growth and development of these pests, it is important to understand to what extent dynamics of these pests will change in future in California. The objective of this study was to quantify changes in the biofix, lifecycle length, and number of generations for these pests for the entire Central Valley of California. Using a well-established growing-degree days (GDD) model calibrated and validated using observations from orchards of California, and climate change projections from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phases 5 and 6 (CMIP5 and CMIP6) General Circulation Models, we found that biofix dates of these pests are expected to shift earlier by up to 28 days, and length of generations is expected to be shortened by up to 19 days, and up to 1.4 extra generations of these pests can be added by the end of the century depending on the scenario. Results from this work would enable industries to prioritize development of practices that are more effective in the long run, such as developing better cultural and biological pest solutions and insect tolerant varieties. Growers and researchers can take proactive actions to minimize future risks associated with these damaging pests. This work can be scalable to other pests and regions to understand regional dynamics of damaging agricultural pests under climate change.

Marketing Orders: January 2024

USA: Temporary Relaxation of Requirements for California Raisins

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced an interim rule that temporarily changes the requirements for raisins covered under the Federal marketing order for raisins produced from grapes grown in California. For the 2023/24 crop year, the minimum requirements for substandard and maturity dockage in the marketing order's handling regulations will be relaxed to accommodate raisins adversely impacted by severe weather conditions.

Food Safety Update: January 2024

California: Private Applicator Certificate (“Brown Card”) Changes

Under new regulations effective as of January 1, 2024, individuals currently certified as private pesticide applicators are required to take and pass the revised initial Private Applicator Certificate (PAC) Examination to demonstrate competency with the revised private applicator standards in 40 CFR Part 171. For more information, see the presentation given by Anna Genasci of the Stanislaus County Farm Bureau at the 2023 Almond Conference, organized by the Almond Board of California.


EU: Plant Protection Products Update

The European Union recently published draft MRLs for the following substances in or on nuts and dried fruits:

Substance Commodity MRL (mg/kg)
Phosphonic acid and its salts expressed as phosphonic acid (R)(1) Almonds 1000
Brazil nuts 400
Cashews 400
Hazelnuts 1000
Macadamias 400
Pecans 400
Pine nut kernels 400
Pistachios 1000
Walnuts 1000
Apricots 60
Plums 8
Cranberries 1.5
Dates 1.5
Figs 1.5
Peanuts 3
Deltamethrin (cis-deltamethrin)(F)(2) Tree nuts 0.01
Peanuts 0.01
Metalaxyl and metalaxyl- M (metalaxyl including other mixtures of constituent isomers including metalaxyl-M (sum of isomers)) (R)(2) Grapes 1.5
Benomyl(3) Tree nuts 0.01
Peanuts 0.01
Dried fruits 0.01
Carbendazim (R)(3) Tree nuts 0.01
Peanuts 0.01
Dried fruits 0.01
Thiophanate-methyl (R)(3) Tree nuts 0.01
Peanuts 0.01
Dried fruits 0.01

(1) Proposed date of adoption is June 2, 2024. Proposed date of publication is July 2, 2024. More information
(2) Proposed date of adoption is April 15, 2024. Proposed date of publication is June 15, 2024. More information

(3) Proposed date of adoption is June 2, 2024. Proposed date of publication is July 2, 2024. More information

Other plant protection products news:

  • Glyphosate: The Official Journal of the European Union published Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2023/2660, renewing the approval of the active substance glyphosate for a period of 10 years.
  • S-metolachlor: The journal also published Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2024/20, concerning the non-renewal of S-metolachlor.
  • Dimethomorph and mepanipyrim: The EU notified the World Trade Organization of draft Commission Implementing Regulations providing that the approval of the active substances dimethomorph and mepanipyrim are not renewed.
  • Diazinon: A targeted review of maximum residue levels (MRLs) for diazinon published by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) found that the existing MRLs for almonds (0.05 mg/kg) and cranberries (0.2 mg/kg) are not substantiated and that therefore these MRLs should be lowered to the limit of quantification (LOQ).
  • Difenoconazole: In December, the EFSA published a report summarizing the outcome of the consultation on the pesticide risk assessment for difenoconazole.


EU: Mycotoxin and Plant Toxin Sampling and Analysis Methods

The Official Journal of the European Union has published new Commission Implementing Regulations establishing the methods of sampling and analysis for the control of the levels of mycotoxins and plant toxins in food. Both regulations shall apply as of April 1, 2024.

Latest Trade News and Agreements: January 2024

Brazil: Almond Imports from Argentina Allowed for First Time

Brazil and Argentina recently reached an agreement to allow the import of almonds from Argentina into Brazil. The recently announced phytosanitary requirements for Argentine almonds will come into force on February 1, 2024. Under the new guidelines, a phytosanitary certificate issued by Argentina’s plant protection authority will be required.

More information


Chile-EU: Advanced Framework Agreement and Interim Trade Agreement Signed

On December 13, 2023, Chile and the European Union signed an Advanced Framework Agreement and an Interim Trade Agreement. These agreements put in place a framework to deepen and widen Chile-EU relations.

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China-Nicaragua: Free Trade Deal

The free trade agreement between China and Nicaragua took effect on January 1, 2024. Under this agreement, 60% of goods traded between the two countries are exempt from tariffs immediately.

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EAEU-Iran: Free Trade Deal

On December 25, 2023, the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), which consists of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia, signed a free trade agreement with Iran. The agreement will become permanent and replace a similar temporary agreement adopted 2019.

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EU: Suspension of Certain Tariff Preferences for GSP Beneficiary Countries Extended

On December 15, 2023, the Official Journal of the European Union published Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2023/2780. Under this new regulation, the suspension of certain tariff preferences granted to certain Generalized Scheme of Preferences (GSP) beneficiary countries will be extended until December 31, 2027.

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EU: Recognition of Control Bodies for Import of Organic Products

The Official Journal of the European Union published Implementing Regulation (EU) 2023/2785, which updates the list of control bodies recognized for the purpose of importing organic products into the Union.

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Mercosur-EU: Trade Deal Negotiations Stall

Hopes for a Mercosur-EU trade deal to be reached before the end of 2023 were dashed on December 7, when the two sides issued a joint statement indicating that more time will be needed to “address the global challenges in areas such as sustainable development, reduction of inequality and multilateralism.”


New Zealand-EU: Free Trade Deal

In late November 2023, the European Council gave the green light to a free trade agreement between the EU and New Zealand. The agreement can enter into force once it has been ratified by New Zealand and the two sides notify each other about the completion of their internal procedures.

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USA-EU: Deal Reached to Extend Pause on Tariff Dispute

The United States and the European Union will extend the suspension of tariffs until March 31, 2025 in the context of a longstanding steel and aluminum dispute.

The dispute dates back to 2018, when the US introduced tariffs on European steel and aluminum and the EU responded by introducing rebalancing tariffs on imports of certain American products —including peanut butter and processed cranberry products— into the EU. In 2022, the parties reached an interim agreement under which the EU suspended its rebalancing tariffs until December 31, 2023, to allow time for negotiations towards a longer-term solution.

Under the deal announced on December 19, 2023, the US-EU trade dispute will be paused until after the 2024 American presidential election.

Sustainability Update: January 2024

EU: Council Adopts Negotiating Position on Sustainable Packaging Rules

On December 18, 2023, the Council reached an agreement (“general approach”) on a proposal for a regulation on packaging and packaging waste. The proposal requires that all packaging be recyclable and that the presence of substances of concern be minimized. It also sets labelling requirements, sets binding reuse targets, restricts certain types of single-use packaging and requires economic operators to minimize the packaging used.

The general approach will serve as a mandate for negotiations with the European Parliament on the final shape of the legislation.

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EU: Parliament and Council Reach Deal on Corporate Due Diligence Law

On December 14, the European Parliament and Council negotiators reached a compromise deal on the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD). The new law will set obligations for companies to mitigate their negative impact on human rights and the environment. Before the law can enter into force, it must be formally approved by the Legal Affairs Committee and the European Parliament as a whole, as well as by the Council.

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EU: FAQ on Deforestation Regulation

In mid-December, the European Commission published an updated FAQ document on the EU Deforestation Regulation (EUDR), covering the topics of traceability, scope, subjects of obligations, definitions, due diligence, benchmarking and partnerships, supporting implementation and timelines.

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EU: European Drought Risk Atlas

The European Commission's Joint Research Centre has published the European Drought Risk Atlas. This publication characterizes how drought hazard, exposure and vulnerability interact and affect various interconnected systems —agriculture, public water supply, energy, riverine transport, and freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems— and presents a conceptual and quantitative approach to drought risk for these systems.

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Türkiye-EU: Annual Meeting of the Türkiye-EU Cooperation Scheme on Hazelnuts

On December 20, 2023, the INC attended the annual meeting of the Türkiye-EU Cooperation Scheme on Hazelnuts. This event brought together representatives from Türkiye, the European Union, Italy, Spain and France, and Copa-Cogeca.

Topics discussed at the meeting included the 2022/2023 campaign, crop estimates for 2023/2024, agricultural policies, climate change and pests. The preliminary estimated hazelnut production figures (in-shell) for 2023/2024 reported were 650,000 MT for Türkiye; between 52,000 and 57,000 MT for Italy; 11,000 MT for France; and 6,900 MT for Spain.

Representatives of European hazelnut growers raised concerns about the unavailability of effective plant protection products due to stringent EU regulations, and how climate change will continue to exacerbate pest problems and impact quality, productivity and investments. Representatives of Copa-Cogeca presented a color-coded system to graphically illustrate the number of active ingredients approved against each threat and the degree of efficacy of each approved product, based on the farmers’ real-life experience. The presentation aimed to sound the alarm about the lack of fully effective solutions against many of the pests and diseases affecting hazelnut orchards, which also puts them at a disadvantage compared to third countries.

Aflatoxins were another key topic of discussion. EU officials praised Türkiye for its progress in bringing its number of RASFF notifications for aflatoxins in hazelnut down to practically zero, which in 2022 resulted in the country being removed from the list of countries subject to increased frequency of official controls for aflatoxins in hazelnut.


USA: American Pistachio Growers Awarded $5 Million Healthy Soils Grant

American Pistachio Growers has been awarded a US$5 million grant from the California Department of Food and Agriculture to help growers adopt healthy soils practices. The grant is a part of the California Healthy Soils Initiative, a collaboration of state agencies and departments that promotes the development of healthy soils on California’s farmlands and ranchlands.

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Red Sea Attacks Disrupt Global Supply Chains

Shipping companies re-route vessels and impose surcharges

After a spike in attacks on commercial vessels, shipping firms are facing a difficult decision: they can send their ships through the Red Sea, risking attacks by Houthi rebels and inviting significantly higher insurance premiums, or re-route them around the Cape of Good Hope, adding 10 days to the journey and increasing fuel costs accordingly.

According to the New York Times, Yemen’s Houthi militant group has attacked two dozen commercial vessels since mid-November. These attacks —ranging from hijackings to drone and missile strikes— have continued even after a US-led multinational naval force was assembled to help safeguard commercial traffic in the region.

The most heavily affected exports are those originating from East or South Asia and destined for Europe or the East Coast of the United States.

The Red Sea disruption comes at a time when the global shipping industry was already facing significant delays. Amid historically low rainfall levels and a severe El Niño weather system, the Panama Canal was forced to reduce its daily transit capacity in the second half of 2023, generating knock-on effects throughout the global supply chain.

As of early January, marine traffic tracking websites continued to show dozens of vessels in the Red Sea, which connects the Mediterranean Sea to the Indian Ocean via the Suez Canal. However, some major players in the shipping industry have already significantly reduced their presence in the region. After an attack on one of its container ships in mid-December, MSC announced that it would avoid the area “until the Red Sea passage is safe.” After a similar attack, Maersk announced that it would avoid the route “until further notice,” according to CNN. In a statement on December 26, CMA CGM said that, although it had re-routed some vessels, it was also sending some ships through the Red Sea and was devising plans to gradually increase the number of vessels transiting through the Suez Canal.

In late December, Reuters reported that some of the world’s largest shipping companies planned to impose extra charges after re-routing ships around Africa in response to the Houthi attacks, adding to rising costs for maritime transport.

Study Finds Snacking on Tree Nuts Reduces Risk of Metabolic Syndrome in Young Adults

Daily tree nut intake may improve waist circumference, lipid biomarkers and insulin levels

A recent study published in Nutrients set out to determine whether consuming tree nuts as snacks, versus typical carbohydrate snacks, would reduce risk for metabolic syndrome in young adults. The study was the first of its kind to investigate cardiometabolic responses to tree nut snacks versus typical carbohydrate snacks among young adults at risk of metabolic syndrome.

The study was a prospective, randomized, parallel-group dietary intervention trial conducted in 84 adults aged 22–26, most of whom were overweight or obese (body mass index 24.5–34.9 kg/m2) and had at least one clinical risk factor for metabolic syndrome (abdominal obesity, elevated triglycerides, low HDL (“good”) cholesterol, high blood pressure, or elevated levels of blood glucose). Participants consumed either one ounce of tree nuts or one ounce of a carbohydrate-rich snack twice daily. Both snacks provided the same number of calories, protein, fiber and sodium and were part of a seven-day weight maintenance menu that repeated throughout the 16-week study period.

The findings showed that snacking on tree nuts instead of carbohydrate snacks was associated with a reduction in waist circumference and a trend toward reduced visceral fat in women. It was also associated with decreased blood insulin levels in men. Tree nut snacks were also associated with an 11% decrease in the ratio of triglycerides to HDL cholesterol. Finally, metabolic syndrome score —calculated for each participant by assigning one point for each metabolic risk criterion met— saw a 67% and 42% reduction, respectively, in women and men who ate tree nut snacks compared to those who ate carbohydrate snacks.

These results suggest that substituting typical high-carbohydrate snacks with tree nuts would likely reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome and its consequences in young adults by improving waist circumference, lipid biomarkers and insulin sensitivity —all without requiring caloric restriction.

This study was funded by the International Tree Nut Council Nutrition Research & Education Foundation (INC NREF).

Sumislawski, K., Widmer, A., Suro, R.R., Robles, M.E., Lillegard, K., Olson, D., Koethe, J.R., Silver, H.J. (2023). Consumption of tree nuts as snacks reduces metabolic syndrome risk in young adults: A randomized trial. Nutrients, 15, 5051.

INC-Funded Study Finds Longer-Term Nut Consumption Improves Brain Insulin Sensitivity

This research may be important for the prevention of age-related diseases

Results from a recent INC-funded intervention study were published in the prestigious American Journal of Clinical Nutrition[1], one of the highest-rated journals in the field of nutrition and dietetics. The study showed that, for older adults with overweight or obesity, longer-term consumption of mixed nuts significantly improved brain insulin sensitivity. This may be important for the prevention of age-related metabolic and cognitive diseases.

The trial consisted of 28 healthy men and women aged between 60 and 70 years. The researchers conducted a randomized, single-blinded, crossover study involving a 16-week intervention and control period (no nuts), separated by an 8-week washout period. The intervention consisted of 60 g per day of mixed nuts (15 g each of walnuts, pistachios, cashews, and hazelnuts). Participants were instructed to adhere to the Dutch dietary guidelines.

Cerebral blood flow (CBF) was quantified using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), while brain insulin sensitivity was assessed by measuring regional CBF responses to intranasal insulin. Furthermore, effects on peripheral insulin sensitivity (oral glucose tolerance test), intrahepatic lipid content and cardiometabolic risk markers were also assessed.

The study found that nut consumption significantly improved insulin action in (occipital and frontal) brain regions involved in the modulation of metabolic and cognitive processes. The research also showed that peripheral insulin sensitivity was not affected. However, intrahepatic lipid content, serum LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and systolic blood pressure were lower following nut consumption compared to the control period. Participants did not gain weight during the study.

“Based on these results we have concluded that regional brain insulin resistance observed in older adults with overweight or obesity can be beneficially affected by a longer-term mixed nut intervention, which may be important for the prevention of age-related diseases,” states Dr. Peter Joris, principal investigator from Maastricht University, The Netherlands.

The study was supported by the INC International Nut and Dried Fruit Council.

[1] Nijssen, K. M., Mensink, R. P., Plat, J., Ivanov, D., Preissl, H., & Joris, P. J. (2023). Mixed nut consumption improves brain insulin sensitivity: a randomized, single-blinded, controlled, crossover trial in older adults with overweight or obesity. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, S0002-9165(23)66340-3. Advance online publication.

How to find alternative crops for climate-resilient regional food production

CONTEXT. Agricultural food production is both affected by and contributing to climate change. At the global scale, agri-food systems are responsible for one-third of total greenhouse gas emissions. With progressing climate change, the risks of crop failure increase. Thus, an urgent need is to reduce emissions from food systems while increasing their resilience to climate change. Enormous untapped potentials to achieve these dual goals lie in transforming agri-food systems towards more diverse, plant-based, and regional food production systems. OBJECTIVE. In this paper, we present an innovative approach for identifying climate-adapted alternative food crops that could (1) help to diversify existing cropping systems and thus increase their climate resilience and can be (2) nutritious elements of plant-based regional diets with reduced emissions. METHODS. The approach builds on the model ecocrop to select food crops that could benefit from regionally projected changes in climate. The model-based analysis is complemented with a literature review to examine the ecocrop results for their plausibility and provide a broader assessment of potentials for cultivation, utilization, and nutritional values of model-selected crops. RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS. The approach is applied to Switzerland, where we identify eight alternative crops with the potential to increase climate resilience while contributing to healthy human diets of regional consumers with benefits for climate mitigation (almond, pecan, sesame, durum wheat, quinoa, lentil, lupine, and borage). The literature review indicated that the increasing demand for many of these crops suggests great potential for regional marketing of crop products. The results produced in this study provide an initial guide for researchers and innovative farmers interested in experimenting with alternative crops in Switzerland, thus promoting climate-smart food system transformation from the production side. SIGNIFICANCE. Using our unbiased bottom-up screening approach, we identified climate-adapted alternative crops that can provide essential nutrients, cover nutritional gaps in Switzerland, diversify existing production systems, and improve sustainability.

Construction of eco-friendly multifunctional cashew nut shell oil-based waterborne polyurethane network with UV resistance, corrosion resistance, mechanical strength, and transparency

Vegetable oil-based waterborne polyurethane possesses numerous advantages, including its sustainability, environmental friendliness, and economic benefits. Nevertheless, its application is constrained by inferior mechanical properties and a low glass transition temperature. Hereon, the renewable polyols of sorbitan monooleate/cytidine were incorporated into the anionic cashew nut shell oil-based WPU network through molecular structure design. Series of CNSL-based WPU with outstanding UV resistance, mechanical properties, corrosion resistance, and transparency were successfully synthesized. The effects of Ce/SP content on the performance of CNSL-based WPU dispersions and films were investigated. The results demonstrated a remarkable enhancement in the properties of the modified WPU films. Specifically, the tensile strength and Tg were increased from 9.7 MPa to 23.9 MPa and 1.1 °C to 45.8 °C, respectively, while maintaining a toughness of 26 MJ/m−3, which attained or even surpassed the current vegetable oil-based WPU systems. It was confirmed excellent UV resistance within the UVB and UVC spectrums. Furthermore, with the increase in Ce/SP content, the water contact angle of films increased slightly, enhancing its water resistance. The IE of WPU-Ce and WPU-SP films reached 97.93 % and 98.42 % respectively, indicating outstanding corrosion resistance. This work presented novel strategies for the advancement of high-performance bio-based WPU, which held promising potential in diverse areas including coatings, corrosion protection, inks, and wearable applications.