This report covers conditions and observations made between Monday March 30 and Sunday, May 3, 2015. The next report is scheduled for Monday, June 1, 2015. However, in the event of any significant occurrences prior to that date, this site will be updated as soon as possible.
Taken in Madera County, the first two of this report’s photos for the southern region show the Nonpareil in the Chowchilla area; first in a planting in excellent condition, and second, one suffering the effect of saline irrigation water. Our final image presents the developing nuts of the Carmel.
Temperatures in the southern San Joaquin Valley were starting to rise at the end of the period, with highs at or slightly above 90 degrees, ahead of the usual warming pattern. For most of the month daily highs hovered between the low 70s and mid 80s with lows ranging from the low 40s to mid 50s. As in the central region, a series of storms delivered from .25″ to just under an inch of rainfall to the northern areas of the region during the first days of April, with hail causing significant damage to the crop in several orchards in the Chowchilla of Madera County
Nuts are continuing to develop well ahead of historical norms. Kernels of the Nonpareil variety are approximately one-half solidified with other varieties not far behind. Observers are reporting a wide degree of variation in the apparent crop set, with some plantings displaying very good crop potential and others notably lacking. Inconsistencies have also been observed from tree to tree within the same orchard. Observers have noted very few broken limbs in orchards as nuts continue to gain weight, a typical observation on a lighter crop year.
Water continues to be a major concern in the southern region. As noted in the second photo some trees are already showing signs of salt burn from the application of salty ground water. With supplies of surface water from local irrigation districts scarce, growers are being forced to rely more heavily upon their wells. And, observers have noted that output from wells is steadily decreasing. To date growers have managed to keep up with the orchard’s water needs. However, the summer months ahead will increase moisture demand and the potential for stress on the crop.
Some treatments to control expanding populations of web-spinning mites have been reported, along with treatments to control Leaf-Footed Plant Bug. Herbicide applications continue as growers are trying to keep orchard floors as clean as possible in order to save water. Fertilizers continued to be applied as needed to sustain this year’s crop and to help develop the flower buds need for next year.