October 27, 2014

This is the final report of the 2014 crop year, covering the conditions and observations made between Monday, September 29 and Sunday, October 26, 2014. The next report will be posted on or about Monday, February 2, 2015 prior to the start of the 2015 bloom.

Taken in Stanislaus County, this report’s photos for the central region provide an example of a gypsum application to an orchard near the Westside community of Newman, followed by a shot of prunings waiting for the shredder in an orchard that is also receiving a drip irrigation near Salida, Our final shot shows the flower buds that have formed on the Nonpareil variety west of Modesto.

While still maintaining levels above seasonal norms, conditions have cooled noticeably over the past month in the northern San Joaquin Valley. Daily maximum readings rose sharply in the opening days of the period, reaching their peak in the low to mid 90’s during first the days of October. Readings then gradually eased back into the mid to upper 70’s as the period came to a close. Meanwhile, morning low readings remained more static, varying predominately between the low to upper 50’s. Rainfall briefly taunted the region’s growers at mid-month. However, no measurable rain was produced until the closing days of the period when a fast moving weather system brushed past the region, producing scattered showers that dropped just a few hundredths of an inch of rain in the San Joaquin and Stanislaus County areas and trace amounts in Merced County.

The 2014 harvest has now been completed, with only the last few late-harvesting Fritz and Monterey plantings remain to be picked up as this report was being prepared. As with the Nonpareil, growers throughout the region have reported variable quality levels in the balance of their varieties, with damage caused predominately by Navel Orange Worm. Yield levels have also been variable when compared to the 2013 crop, while generally running stronger than the levels recorded in the Nonpareil.

With the completion of harvest operations in the orchards, huller/sheller operators have turned their attention to the previously harvested product stored in their stockpile yards or along-side the orchards. Facility managers are reporting that the crop has been running quite quickly through the shellers and nearly all expect to complete shelling the crop prior to the end of November.

Throughout the region, growers have also turned their attention towards post-harvest tasks. As may be seen in the photos accompanying this report, gypsum applications continue in all areas of the region as growers work to promote leaching of salt accumulations from their soil. While irrigation districts ended their delivery season in the open days of the period, irrigations have not been suspended for those with water available from their private wells. The vast majority of the region’s orchards are still carrying heavy leaf cover and the mild to warm conditions have allowed the trees to continue to transpire water. As a result, growers with water available have continued irrigating, albeit at a reduced pace, in order to support their orchards and the flower buds that have formed for the 2015 crop.

During the coming months, growers will complete pruning, shredding and orchard sanitation operations as they prepare for the 2015 bloom. Sanitation will be a focal point for many in light of the elevated damage many sustained this year from Navel Orange Worm. Reducing the number of mummy nuts that remain in the trees after harvest is the best way to reduce the potential for damage in the subsequent crop. However, this process is greatly aided by wet winters, something that all in the region are hoping for this year.

Current weather at the National Weather Service
Mel Machado
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