This is the final report of the 2015 crop year, covering the conditions and observations made between Monday, October 5, and Sunday, November 1, 2015. The next report will be posted on or about Monday, February 1, 2016 prior to the start of the 2016 bloom.
Our photos for the southern region show an application of gypsum and an orchard after pruning in Madera County, followed by a field being prepared for planting in the Delano area of Kern County. Our feature image shows a crew performing the important role of training a young planting in Madera County.
Variable conditions reigned over the southern region during October, creating a few problems for growers bringing in the later harvesting varieties. Daily maximum temperatures reached their highest values early in the period, rising from the lower 80’s to peak in the low to mid 90’s between the 10th and 19th. Readings then dropped into the lower 70’s with the arrival of a wetter pattern that delivered 0.1 to 0.3 inch of rain at mid-month. Drier conditions prevailed in the closing days of the period as temperatures once again rose in the low to mid 80’s. Morning low temperatures followed a similar pattern as the high’s, ranging from the lower 50’s to low to mid 60’s.
Following a minor delay caused by the rain at mid-month, growers in the southern region have completed the 2015 harvest. Those with crop caught on the ground during the rain were able to dry in the nuts in the field with little difficulty. However, some loads did require further drying upon arrival. While crop is no longer being delivered from the orchards, huller/sheller operations continue to process stockpiled product. Most are anticipating that they will complete operations for the year by the end of November.
Growers in the region have now moved on to a post-harvest mindset, performing a “post-mortem” on the year, reviewing yields and quality levels. Yield levels for most growers increased as the harvest progressed. However, production of the 2015 crop failed to achieve the same level experienced in 2014. Reject levels caused primarily by Navel Orange Worm were also higher than experienced in recent crops.
Looking ahead, pruning, shredding and fertilization are currently among grower’s prime activities. And nearly all in the region are applying some form of soil amendment intended to increase water penetration and promote the leaching of salts that have accumulated during the growing season. Growers continue to condition and service their privately owned wells, working to ensure the availability of water for their orchards. Growers in Madera County and areas of Merced County have endured particular difficulties, and their orchards are showing the greatest degree of water stress. At the same time, orchards along the west side of the region are showing the greatest stress of from excessive salts. All in the region are hopeful that the predictions of a strong El Nino will come true, providing ample water needed for the 2016 crop.