This report covers conditions and observations made between Monday, September 3 and Sunday, October 2, 2016. The next scheduled report will be posted on Monday, October 24, 2016. In the event of any significant occurrences prior to that date, this site will be updated as soon as possible.
Taken in the Modesto area of Stanislaus County, this report’s photos for the central region present a harvester and shuttle picking up the crop, and a shot of the shuttle transferring the crop into the trailers for the trip to the sheller. Our final image shows a shredder reducing the previously pruned brush to toothpicks.
While clear, bright skies covered the central region during nearly all of the period, temperatures in the northern San Joaquin Valley took on a cyclical nature during the transition from summer into fall. Daily maximum temperatures varied on a ten-day cycle, ranging from mid and upper 70’s to upper 90’s with coolest readings reported in the closing days of the period as a fairly potent weather system approached the state. Meanwhile, morning lows exhibited a bit more stability, with readings reported between the mid 50’s and lower 60’s. Conditions took a fairly dramatic turn on the final day of the period as clouds approached the region, bringing the threat of showers. While clouds moved over the northern areas of the region late in the day, only trace amounts of rain were reported.
Harvest operations continued at a brisk pace during September as growers moved from the Nonpareil into their respective pollenizer varieties. As noted in previous reports, advanced maturity of the crop, coupled with excellent weather during the month has allowed growers to move very quickly through their orchards. As a result, as this report is being prepared, most growers have completed their harvest and have moved on to post harvest tasks. However, growers with Fritz and Monterey, the traditionally last to harvest varieties are still working the fields, with a number of orchards still waiting to be shaken. With the rapid harvest, huller/sheller operations have been operating around-the-clock. Observers are reporting that much of the crop has been directed to stockpiles, which will be processed after all field operations have been completed.
Many growers are reporting that yields of the Butte and Padre varieties have been running below last year’s level. However, production yields of the Carmel and the California types, such as Price and much of the Fritz harvest so far have been reported above 2015 levels. Growers with Aldrich are reporting more variable yields, with some above and others below last year’s production.
As may be seen in the photo accompanying this report, growers who have completed the harvest have begun pruning and shredders have already started moving through the orchards. Piles of gypsum, calcium sulfate, can be found throughout the region as growers work to correct soil issues. Irrigation districts drawing water from Sierra Nevada reservoirs are making water available through much of the coming month, allowing growers to complete critical post-harvest irrigations needed to support flower bud formation for the 2017 crop.
Observers are reporting that the majority of orchards are in good condition. However, some problems do exist. Web-spinning mites have caused nearly total leaf loss in the most severe infestations across the region. Additionally, orchards along the west side of the region dependent on ground water have also been defoliating as the effects of poor quality water continues to impact tree growth. While the past winter’s rainfall helped to improve soil conditions in the most severely impacted orchards, the continued use of poor quality water, in many cases grower’s only supply, has negated the gains achieved. In the most severely impacted plantings, as new leaves emerge, energy and nutrients needed for the 2017 crop are being expended now, with potentially detrimental impact on the next crop.
By Mel Machado