This report covers conditions and observations made between Monday, June 29 and Sunday, August 2, 2015. The next report is scheduled for Monday, August 31, 2015. However, in the event of any significant occurrences prior to that date, this site will be updated as soon as possible.
This report’s photos for the northern region provide a glimpse of the transition into the 2015 harvest. First, in the Durham area of Butte County, an orchard receives its last pre-harvest irrigation while Nonpareil nuts dry on the ground in a different planting. Meanwhile, in the Arbuckle area of Colusa County, the Nonpareil waits for the harvester after being swept from beneath the trees.
Temperatures varied widely during July, with warm to hot conditions dominating the majority of the period. Daily maximum readings in the mid and upper 90s as the period began briefly dropped into the upper 70s and lower 80s within a few days. However, conditions warmed steadily for the balance of the month, with readings reaching to as high as 109 degrees during the final week of July. While morning low temperatures exhibited more stability, readings remained at relatively warm levels, predominately in the lower 60s to lower 70s.
As may be seen in the photos accompanying this report, harvest operations have begun in the Sacramento Valley. However, only a few orchards have been shaken, swept and picked up as this report was being written and observers are reporting that shaking will begin in earnest during the first week of August. The varying temperatures during the month affected the pace of development and while growers had anticipated starting shaking operations at the earliest date in history, the very hot conditions actually worked to slow things down a bit. The maturation process that drives the hull split requires adequate moisture levels within the tissue. Stresses promoted by the elevated temperatures actually reduced the pace of development, resulting in a start of the harvest more in line with that of the 2014 crop.
Growers spent the past month preparing for the harvest. Irrigation, weed control and pest management have dominated the growers’ activities, with special attention going to the control of Navel Orange Worm, NOW. Trap counts have been running at high levels throughout the growing season and growers have been on equally high alert for the potential of damage to the crop. Poor mummy shaking conditions during the past winter has meant that most growers have made multiple treatments to secure adequate control. Whether their efforts have been successful will become known over the coming weeks as the crop emerges from the region’s hullers and shellers.
Growers in the Sacramento Valley have been more optimistic about the potential of their crops than those under greater water restrictions prevalent in the San Joaquin Valley. All in the region will be watching crop weights closely as the harvest gets underway in an effort to confirm production levels.