This report covers conditions and observations made between Monday, August 4 and Sunday, August 31, 2014. The next report is scheduled for Monday, September 29, 2014. However, in the event of any significant occurrences prior to that date, this site will be updated as soon as possible.
Taken in the Williams area of Colusa County, the first of this report’s photos present a shaker harvesting the crop and a shuttle cart loading the trucks that will transport the nuts to the huller/sheller. Our final image shows a particularly “thirsty” orchard in the Chico area of Butte County, waiting for an irrigation.
Monsoonal moisture early in the period coalesced into showery conditions in the opening days of the period, dampening the start of the harvest. While the rain lasted only a day or two, total rainfall accumulations ranged from a few hundredths of an inch to as much as one-half inch, interrupting harvest operations for a few days until previously shaken product had dried enough to be picked up. Daily maximum temperatures ranged from the mid and upper 70’s during the rainy days at the start of the period to nearly the 100 degree mark in the last week of the month. At the same time, morning minimum readings ranged from the upper 50’s to upper 60’s and lower 70’s throughout the period.
Harvest operations began during the first week of the period along the west side of the Sacramento Valley and following a brief pause to dry out from the rather ironic rainfall, swept across the balance of the region by the middle of August. Observers are reporting that operations are progressing very rapidly as growers move through the Nonpareil and into the quickly maturing pollenizer varieties. As this report is being prepared, growers are already shaking Price, Peerless, Aldrich, Carmel, Padre and Butte and are expecting to complete shaking the valley’s Nonpareil plantings during the first week of September. Some growers with only early and mid-harvesting varieties are now speculating that they will complete their harvest by the middle of September. Observers along the west side of the valley are reporting that advanced examples of the last-to-harvest Monterey and Fritz were shaken during the last week of August, the earliest time that anyone can remember.
Huller/sheller operators are working feverishly to accept the flow of product as it arrives from the orchards. However, as is normally the case, harvested product is accumulating rapidly in stockpiles at huller/sheller facilities, as well as alongside the orchards.
Growers are reporting that yields are running below last year’s levels. Both load counts coming from the orchards and the pounds of finished kernels produced from each load are running below expectations. Unfortunately, observers have noted that reject levels are running higher than last year’s very clean levels and that some orchards have incurred significant damage.
As the last of the crop is harvest from each orchard, growers are moving as quickly as possible to provide water to their trees, which have endured increased stress levels during the harvest period.