This report covers conditions and observations made between Monday, September 1 and Sunday, September 28, 2014. The next report is scheduled for Monday, October 27, 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 an example of the late-harvesting Monterey variety laying on the ground after shaking and the start of the pruning season in the Chico area of Butte County. Our final image provides an example of an orchard being removed in the Arbuckle area of Colusa County, while this report’s feature image shows a line-up of shakers waiting for the day to begin.
Growers in the Sacramento Valley experienced clear skies and warm, dry conditions for nearly all of September. However, wet weather returned to the region on the 25th of the month as a cut-off low pressure system spun across the valley, scattering rainfall throughout the region. Rainfall accumulations varied widely, with as little as 0.10 inch reported in the southern areas of the region and nearly an inch reported in the Chico area of Butte County. Daytime high temperatures were reported between the lower 90’s to just over 100 degrees during the first half of the month, then declined gradually to their coolest values in the mid 70’s as the storm system swept across the region. At the same time, morning minimum readings ranged from the mid 50’s to 60’s throughout the period.
Observers are reporting that the seasonal transition from Summer to Fall is being accompanied by the closing days of the 2014 harvest. The accelerated pace of crop development has provided for a very efficient harvest, allowing growers to move quickly through the orchards from variety to variety. While the rain brought harvest operations to a temporary halt, observers noted that the moisture has not adversely impacted the crop and served mainly to clean the air over the region. The dry soil in many orchards quickly absorbed the moisture in all but the heaviest soils, allowing growers to resume shaking within a few days. As this report is being prepared, observers are reporting that growers are working on Butte, Padre, Mission, Monterey and Fritz and that barring any further complications from the weather, operations in the field are expected to be completed by mid-October.
Growers are reporting variable crop yields, with some orchards running above last year’s levels, but most running at levels lower than experienced in 2013. Production levels of the Aldrich have been particularly disappointing, given this variety’s normally consistent behavior. While pollenizer yields have been running stronger than the Nonpareil, most are still below last year’s levels and observers have noted the inconsistent yields make a forecast of the year’s production quite difficult. Quality levels have also varied. Grower’s initial reports noted excessive damage levels from Navel Orange Worm in the Nonpareil. However, reject levels have improved somewhat as growers moved into the pollenizer varieties.
As may be seen in the photos accompanying this report, growers who have completed their harvest moved quickly into a post-harvest mindset. Post-harvest irrigation, application of soil amendments and potassium fertilizers are well underway along with pruning and the removal of older, low producing orchards. Meanwhile huller/sheller operators moved quickly into previously stockpiled product upon the arrival of the rain and will return to field-run product as soon as the crop dries sufficiently in the orchards.