This report covers conditions and observations made between Monday, March 31 and Sunday, April 27, 2014. The next report is scheduled for Monday, May 26, 2014. However, in the event of any significant occurrences prior to that date, this site will be updated as soon as possible
This report’s photos for the northern region present a down-the-row shot of the Nonpareil and Carmel in the Chico area of Butte County, followed by the developing nuts of the Sonora and a view of the nut drop observed in the Butte variety, both in the Arbuckle area of Colusa County. Note also the nut drop under the Carmel in the first photo.
Generally good weather reigned over the northern region during April, with storm systems bringing clouds and rainfall to the orchards in the period’s open and closing days. Daily maximum temperatures climbed quickly from their chilliest levels in the low to mid 50’s as the period began, reaching into the upper 70’s to mid 80’s where they remained for the majority of the period. Readings finally dropped back into the upper 50’s and lower 60’s during the period’s final days as a new Pacific weather system delivered widespread rain and occasional hail to the Sacramento Valley. Morning low followed a vaguely similar trend, with readings in the lower 40’s rising to the lower 50’s for balance of the period.
Official rainfall totals ranged from 1.0 inch to as much as 2.5 inches, with additional amounts falling from thunderstorms that roamed the region, dropping heavy rain and occasional hail. While some growers reported locally significant hail damage to their crops, widespread losses have not been reported.
Observers have reported that the crop in the Sacramento Valley is developing well under the influence of the generally good weather conditions. Above average temperatures and adequate sunshine have combined to provide good support for the crop while also helping to reduce disease pressure. As may be seen in the photos accompanying this report, many orchards have been shedding nuts that the trees are unable to carry to maturity, a normal process that typically occurs in greater amounts in the Carmel, California types and Butte/Padre plantings than in the Nonpareil. Observers and growers alike are reporting that they believe the crop to be approximately ten days ahead of last year.
Beneficial weather conditions for the majority of the period have allowed growers to complete required orchard tasks with few difficulties. Fertilizers have been applied as needed, as have fungicide treatments designed to prevent disease infections on the crop as well as the trees. Fortunately, pressure from insect pests has been low this year and to this point, few difficulties have been encountered. However, the coming weeks will bring additional focus on insect management as the crop grows closer to harvest and growers focus their attention on Navel Orange Worm and ants.
Water remains a prime concern for all in the Sacramento Valley. Rainfall during March and April has provided some degree of relief in the form of a small amount of additional run-off captured for storage. Both the State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project have increased allocations to 5% of contracted amounts, while Sacramento Valley growers sourcing their water from districts known as the Settlement Contractors have seen their allocations increased to 75%. For the growers served by the state system, the 5% allocation will not be available until after September 1. Most growers have been working to ensure that their privately owned wells are in good condition as they will be depending heavily upon groundwater in order to complete the 2014 growing season.