This report covers conditions and observations made between Wednesday, March 4 and Sunday, March 15, 2015. The next report is scheduled for Monday, March 30, 2015. However, in the event of any significant occurrences prior to that date, this site will be updated as soon as possible.
Taken in Stanislaus County, this report’s photos for the central region present the developing crop observed in the Nonpareil and Price varieties and an example of Non-Infectious Bud Failure observed in many Carmel plantings around the region.
Warming temperatures have provided ample support for the developing crop in the northern San Joaquin Valley. Morning minimum temperatures threatened to drop into the lower 30’s early in the period, creating some degree of concern among the region’s growers. However, readings increased with each passing day reaching into the upper 40’s and lower 50’s as a weakening weather system passed over the region, bringing as much as 0.2 inch of rain to the Stanislaus and San Joaquin County area and slightly less to Merced County. Daily maximum readings rose from the mid and upper 60’s in the period’s opening days, peaking in the lower 80’s by Friday, the 13th of March.
Observers are reporting that the warm temperatures are driving rapid development in the region’s orchards. As may be seen in the photos accompanying this report, nutlets in all varieties are well into the normal period in which they differentiate in size as they break free from their jackets. Growers are anxiously watching this process, which ultimately determines the volume of the crop. With as many as three sizes present on the tree, the largest will be retained, along with a portion of the second group. Ultimately, many of the third or smallest kernels will be shed from the trees, a process that has already begun. Obviously, the early blooming varieties lead the way in this process, with the late blooming Butte and Padre just entering this critical phase.
Now that the bloom has been completed, normal growing season activities are becoming the norm. Beekeepers are returning to the valley to pick up their hives for transport to the next crop in the annual journey across the nation providing pollinating services for growers of many crops. Growers have been busy fertilizing the orchards and mowing excessive vegetation. As with last year, some are contemplating removing all vegetation within the orchard in an effort to reduce water consumption. Some growers have reported observing Oblique Banded Leaf Rollers in their orchard and all are on the lookout for Leaf-Footed Plant Bug, which can cause serious losses by their feeding on the growing nuts.
Orchards throughout the region have become increasingly green over the past week as leaves grow in size. As the leaves grow, water usages increases, driving growers to begin the irrigation season in order to support the developing crop. Several local irrigation districts will begin delivering water to their growers in the coming days. However, water allocations from local districts vary greatly this year, each according to the supply available from their respective reservoirs. Greatest allocations are found in the Oakdale and South San Joaquin Districts, with full allocations available in Oakdale, while growers in the South San Joaquin are limited to 36 inches of water. Growers in the Modesto and Turlock Irrigation District have been informed that they will receive 14 to 16 inches, while those in the Merced Irrigation District will receive no surface water this year. Growers along the west side of the region who receive water from the federal Central Valley Project will also not receive any water this year, while those whose water comes from the State Water Project have been told that they will receive 20% of their contracted allocations. Growers with private wells have begun testing the water from those wells to determine the quality of water available. Many wells in the region are capable of producing water with excessive salinity and/or elevated pH levels that can adversely impact the crop and the trees.