This report covers conditions and observations made between Monday, March 21 and Sunday, April 3, 2016. The next scheduled report will be posted on Monday, May 2, 2016. In the event of any significant occurrences prior to that date, this site will be updated as soon as possible.
Taken in Stanislaus County, our photos for the central region present the strong nut set of the Fritz, the first irrigation of the 2016 growing season and an example of the degree of shedding occurring, in this case in the Carmel. This normal process occurs as the tree sheds the nuts it is unable to carry to maturity. Note that the smaller of the nuts in this image will be dropped to the orchard floor.
Days of rain in the previous period carried into the last two weeks of March in the northern San Joaquin Valley. Rain fell on the opening day of the period and again briefly on the 28th, providing as much as 0.15 inch of moisture. Daily maximum temperatures generally varied from the mid and upper 60’s to the upper 70’s. However, readings did drop into the low 60’s on the 28th when a weakening system brought light sprinkles to the northern areas of the region. Morning lows exhibited a bit more variability. Readings were widely reported in the 40’s. However, temperatures dipped into the mid 30’s on the 29th and 30th, providing a bit of concern for the possibility of frost.
Observers are reporting that the crop is developing strongly, under the influence of the generally good conditions. The rain the region has received this year has failed to produce significant threat of disease and growers are reporting that the orchards are in good condition. Growers spent much of the period controlling excessive weed growth and fertilizing to support the developing crop. While pheromone traps have been set in the orchards to monitor life stages of Peach Twig Borer, growers and Pest Control Advisors are walking orchards several times a week in search of Leaf-Footed Plant Bugs. No pheromone traps are available for this potentially serious pest, requiring that growers manually monitor the orchards to prevent significant losses.
Some growers with orchards on sandy soils, who have private wells have begun their first irrigations of the 2016 season. However, most are awaiting the start of water deliveries from their local irrigation districts. While the drought officially continues to impact the state, enough rain and snow has fallen in the Sierra Nevada watershed to allow the Oakdale, South San Joaquin, Modesto, Turlock and Merced Irrigation Districts to provide ample allocations of 3 to 4 acre-feet of water to their growers. The South San Joaquin Irrigation District began filling their distribution system during the last week of March, while the remaining east side districts will begin deliveries during the first week of April.
Producers receiving their water from the State Water Project along the west side of the valley have been allocated 45% of their contracted amounts. West side growers receiving water from the federal Central Valley Project face a much grimmer situation, with allocations of 5% of contracted amounts. Demonstrating the complicated dynamics of the water situation in the San Joaquin, west side growers with the areas served by a group of irrigation districts knows as the exchange contractors, the Central California Irrigation District, the San Luis Canal Company, the Firebaugh Canal Water District and the Columbia Canal Company, all of whom serve growers between Newman and Mendota along the west side, will receive 100% of their contracted amounts.
As shown in the accompanying photo, observers have reported that the trees are beginning to shed nuts that they are unable to carry to harvest. Growers are reporting a high degree of variability in the apparent crop set from orchard to orchard. Many are reporting the greatest variation in the Nonpareil.
By Mel Machado