This is the final report of the 2015 crop year, covering the conditions and observations made between Monday, October 5, and Sunday, November 1, 2015. The next report will be posted on or about Monday, February 1, 2016 prior to the start of the 2016 bloom.
Taken in Stanislaus County, this report’s photos for the central region present a shot of a shredder, grinding the previously pruned brush and the resulting toothpick-like residue that will decompose on the orchard floor. Our final image shows a field prepared for planting, with the irrigation system installed and operational. In this particular case, the water is drawn from a local irrigation district through the concrete structure on the right, pressurized, filtered and distributed to the trees. Our feature image shows the newly developed flower buds of a particularly lush orchard ready for the 2016 bloom.
Mild conditions dominated the weather in the central region during October, with readings in the period’s opening days widely reported in the low to mid 80’s. Temperatures reached their highest values at mid-month, rising into the lower 90’s before settling back into the mid 70’s as scattered showers passed over the region. Showers returned to the area during the period’s final week, with rainfall totals for the period ranging from trace amounts to 0.2 inch along the east side of the valley. Morning minimum temperatures exhibited a bit more stability than the highs, ranging between the mid 50’s and lower 60’s throughout the region.
Field harvest operations have been completed in the central region and growers have now become fully involved in post-harvest tasks. Operations in the field were completed with little difficulty this year, due to the lack of significant rainfall during the harvest, although the small amount of rainfall received did cause some loads to be dried upon arrival.
Water deliveries from the Oakdale, South San Joaquin, Modesto and Turlock Irrigation Districts also ended during the month, signaling the completion of the 2015 irrigation season. However, the relatively warm temperatures the region has experienced means that the trees are still using water daily, although at a much reduced rate. Growers with water available from private wells are continuing to irrigate as needed to meet the needs of their orchards. This is particularly the case in plantings using micro-sprinkler or drip irrigation, which apply the smallest quantities of water and therefore require continued irrigation to avoid excessive stress.
Many growers have begun pruning their orchards and a few have already completed shredding the resulting brush. Applications of potassium fertilizers and soil amendments aimed at correcting soil pH and salinity levels are occurring throughout the region as growers work to correct problems that have developed during the year. Applications of herbicides to control weed growth within the tree rows have been delayed until the first rainfall of the winter season. All on the region are looking forward to significant rainfall this winter, hoping to replenish soil moisture levels and depleted reservoirs. Further, removal of nuts that failed to drop from the trees during the harvest must wait until the rainy season, as moisture is needed to loosen the nuts, allowing easy removal. Sanitizing the orchards by removing these nuts from the trees and destroying them on the orchard floor is the best method of controlling Navel Orange Worm. Unfortunately, the drought conditions over the past years have made orchard sanitation difficult, which has promoted increasing populations of this serious pest and a corresponding increase in damage to the crop.
While many of the region’s orchards made it through the growing season in good condition, a significant proportion of the region’s plantings are exhibiting signs of stress produced by the lack of water and excessive salinity. Hopefully, ample winter rain will help to correct adverse conditions within the orchards and replenish the region’s water supply.