This report covers the conditions and activities observed from February 17, 2023 to February 23, 2023. Written updates will be posted regularly on Fridays throughout bloom and will have a more regionalized focus. Additional updates will be posted as needed.
Bloom is approaching peak throughout California as cold, stormy weather is starting to move through all growing regions. Bloom progression in Nonpareil and its California type pollinizers have half or more of their flowers open for pollination while the early blooming Sonora is at peak number of open flowers in some areas. Monterey and Carmel are two or three days behind Nonpareil while the late blooming Butte and Padre buds remain under 10% open in most areas. With high winds and a significant temperature drop that occurred mid-week, bee activity has been minimal since Tuesday with bees lucky to have an hour of flying time on any day since. However, with better weather over last weekend most growers remain optimistic.
“There’s a great bud set and bloom in the orchards,” said Sutter County Blue Diamond Grower Josh Campbell. “We’re worried about weather and bee hours, but looking forward to a nice crop.”
With a wide range of bloom progression between different orchards growers are hoping that the cold nature of the current storm system keeps flowers on the trees and pollen viable into next week when the storm moves out. Bud set has varied widely between regions. In Josh’s northern region a major frost event in 2022 cut the crop in half. Orchards have come back strong in that region after a year off. In the southern region bud sets vary depending on water stress from the previous years, with some extreme orchards leafing out without blooming while unstressed orchards have a nice set.
Many growers chose to treat for fungal infections in case temperatures spike after the storm moves out, while others chose to wait and see until after storm to see if they need to treat. Mowing of grass on the orchard floor and irrigation system maintenance has been a priority for growers in case temperature dip below freezing.
By: Brian Noeller
Photos By: John Aja and Mel Machado