This report covers conditions and observations made between Monday, September 1 and Sunday, September 28, 2014. The next report is scheduled for Monday, October 27, 2014. However, in the event of any significant occurrences prior to that date, this site will be updated as soon as possible.
The first of this report’s photos for the southern region presents the continuing harvest in the Arvin area of Kern County, while our final image shows a shuttle cart removing the crop from the orchards in the Chowchilla area of Madera County. This report’s feature image displays loads of compost waiting to be spread in the orchards over the coming days.
Dry conditions dominated the vast majority of the southern region’s weather during September as growers worked to complete their harvest. Daily maximum temperatures were widely reported between the upper 80 and 90’s for most of the month, with readings dropping precipitously into the 70’s in the final days of the period as a cut-off low pressure system brought rain to the northern and central growing regions. Morning minimum temperatures exhibited a bit more consistency with readings predominately between the upper 50’s to mid and upper 60’s. Showers were reported on the final day of the period as the cut-off system spun over central Nevada, sending rainfall back over the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Total rainfall accumulations were quite sparing, with trace amounts to nearly 0.2 of an inch reported in eastern Madera and northern Fresno County.
Harvest operations are winding down quickly in the southern San Joaquin Valley. The hastened pace of crop development and accelerated maturity levels have promoted a rapid harvest, allowing growers to move quickly through the Nonpareil variety and on to the various pollenizers in rapid succession. While the majority of the region escaped adverse impacts from the rain, increased humidity levels have created heavy morning dew, which delays the start of harvest operations each day. Observers are reporting that growers are now working on the Butte, Padre, Monterey and Fritz with many are expecting to complete the harvest within the next two weeks, assuming no additional complications imposed by the weather.
Production levels continue to confound. Many growers have noted that their crops appeared to be stronger in the trees than lying on the ground after shaking. While yields of the pollenizers have been running at stronger levels than reported in the Nonpareil, production levels remain predominately at or below those experience in the 2013 crop. Quality levels have also been mixed. Some are reporting very low reject levels while others are experiencing significant losses caused by infestations of Navel Orange Worm, as described in last month’s report.
The rapid pace of the harvest has been accompanied by a nearly equally rapid flow of the crop through the region’s huller/sheller operations. Nevertheless, in-hull almonds have been accumulating in stockpile yards for processing after the harvest. Sheller operators are reporting that the crop is moving through their machinery quite quickly and that many expect to complete their operations approximately ten days ahead of last year.
Post-harvest tasks have become the norm for those who have completed their harvest. Growers receiving their water from local irrigation districts have been rushing to complete post-harvest irrigations prior to the end of the delivery season, while those with private wells are able to continue irrigating, if needed. Tractors can also be spotted in the orchards pulling orchard floats to level the area between the rows while loads of compost and gypsum are accumulating near orchards throughout the region. These soil amendments will soon be spread into the orchards as growers work to combat the salt levels that have accumulated in the soil. Sufficient rainfall over the coming fall and winter months will play a critical role in improving the soil health, in addition to providing water for the 2015 growing season.