This report cover conditions and observations made between Friday, February 6 and Sunday, February 8, 2015.
Taken in Madera County, this report’s photos for the southern region present a close-up of the pink tip and popcorn stages of the early bloom Avalon variety near Madera, followed by down-the-row shots of the Sonora and Nonpareil and an advance outside row of the Sonora near Chowchilla.
The well publicized series of Pacific storms forecast to strike the Central Valley failed to live up predictions, delivering only a glancing blow of rain to the southern San Joaquin Valley. Greatest amounts of rain were reported in the region’s northern counties, with a few hundredths to as much as one-half inch were reported in areas of Madera and Fresno County on Friday night and Saturday. Farther to the south, Tulare and Kern County orchards received around one-quarter of an inch. The tropical nature of the storm kept high temperatures in upper 60’s and lows in the mid 50’s for the Fresno/Madera area. Temperatures were in the mid 70’s and approached 80 degrees in the Tulare/Kern area with lows in the low 50’s. Winds were relatively calmer compared with the rest of the state. Average wind speeds for all of the southern part of the valley stayed between 5 and 10 mph with gusts up to 15 mph. This led to 3 to 4 fair hours of bee flight in the Madera/Fresno area around rain events and 6 to 8 hours of good activity in the Tulare/Kern region. However, there were few blossoms to pollinate and most of the flight time was spent on weeds on the edges of the orchards.
Observers have noted a high degree of variability in the stages of development between differing orchards. In general, the only variety with a measurable percentage of open flowers is the small amount of Neplus acreage that is currently displaying 5% to 10% of their flowers for pollination. Some advanced Sonora plantings are showing approximately 5% open bloom. However, most only have trace amounts showing. Some pollenizer varieties, including Fritz and Monterey, appear to be slightly ahead of the Nonpareil with Carmel lagging slightly behind. The late blooming Butte appears to be running 3 to 4 days ahead of Padre which, as usual, is the last major variety to bloom. Most trees in all varieties are awake and buds are moving. We anticipate presenting values for each stage of development beginning with the next report.
Most plantings have received their hives and are set for the bloom. Warm temperatures and wet conditions have the potential to create high disease pressure. As a result, growers are readying their spray rigs in anticipation of needed treatments to disease susceptible varieties.