This is the final report of the 2014 crop year, covering the conditions and observations made between Monday, September 29 and Sunday, October 26, 2014. The next report will be posted on or about Monday, February 2, 2015 prior to the start of the 2015 bloom.
Our photos for the final report of the year show a young orchard being harvested by hand near Madera as a worker knocks the nuts from the tree with a pole while collecting them on a tarp beneath the tree. Our second photo shows a new well being drilled in the Chowchilla area of Madera County, while our final shot shows an orchard in central Kern County that has been mechanically hedge pruned to allow for more light deep in the canopy.
Dry, mild conditions dominated the weather in the southern region during October providing ample support for the completion of the 2014 harvest. Daily maximum temperatures peaked in the low to mid 90’s early in the period, then dropped back into the mid 70’s for much of the month before briefly climbing back to the mid and upper 80’s in the period’s closing days. Morning lows exhibited much more stability, ranging predominately between the upper 40’s and upper 50’s throughout the period.
The 2014 harvest has been completed in the southern San Joaquin Valley. Operationally, this year’s early maturity, combined with beneficial weather conditions provided for one of the most trouble-free harvests in memory. While the pace of the harvest was virtually unimpeded, it was not necessarily trouble free. As noted in last month’s report, yields have run below last year’s levels, while quality levels have been mixed, due primarily to feeding by Navel Orange Worm. Some growers have opted to send shakers back into the orchards for a “second shake” in an attempt to remove nuts that failed to drop from the trees during the “regular harvest”. Taking advantage of the dry conditions and pricing that justifies the expense, these growers are attempting to remove as many nuts as possible from trees. Given that complete removal of the nuts remaining in the trees is the best method of controlling Navel Orange Worm, the thought is to clean the trees with a second shake while earning some money to help offset the cost.
Huller/sheller operations have been curtailed greatly now that the field harvest has been completed. However, facilities with stockpiled product continue to run and are anticipating that they will finish running the 2014 crop prior to the end of November.
Throughout the region, growers have moved quickly into a post-harvest mindset, irrigating, applying gypsum to help leach salt accumulations from the soil and sending pruning crews into the orchards. Growers with water available from private wells will continue to irrigate as long as required in order to provide adequate support for the developing flower buds needed for the 2015 bloom. Well drilling and maintenance continue in the region as growers work to ensure that they will be able to meet their orchards water needs in the future. All in the region are hopeful that the coming winter will provide enough rainfall to help fill soil profiles and snowpack to meet the state’s water needs in 2015.