This report covers conditions and observations made between Monday, June 30 and Sunday, August 3, 2014. The next report is scheduled for Monday, September 1, 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 southern region provide a glimpse of a shaker starting the harvest process of the Nonpareil in the Chowchilla area of Madera County and the crop being loaded after harvest near Madera. Our final image shows an Assassin Bug searching for prey amid the foliage of the Butte variety in Kern County. Note the degree of hull split evident in this later harvesting variety.
Hot temperatures, high humidity levels and smoky, cloudy skies typified much of the weather conditions in the southern San Joaquin Valley during July. Monsoonal flows moving up from the south drove humidity levels during the period, spawning thunderstorms and a few locally heavy downpours during the final week of the month. Smoke from forest fires near Yosemite combined with the cloudy skies and humidity to produce some pretty uncomfortable conditions. Daily maximum temperatures ranged from the mid and upper 90’s to as high as 108 degrees for much of the period, with coolest readings reported at mid-month. Morning low readings were also reported at warm levels, with readings ranging between the low to mid 60’s and lower 70’s each day. As previously noted, growers reported a few heavy downpours during the final week of the period. However, official reporting stations set the total rainfall for the period at just a few hundredths of and inch.
Pre-harvest preparations have been completed and harvest operations have begun in the southern San Joaquin Valley. Shakers were sent into the more severely stressed orchards at mid-month, with operations progressing into the better plantings by the final week of the period. As witnessed by the photo accompanying this report, sweepers and harvesters have already begun pulling crop from the orchards for delivery to the region’s huller/shellers.
Observers have noted a variable shake this year, with some orchards retaining nuts due to a diverse level of maturity and others shaking very cleanly. Observers have also noted that soil moisture levels have also created some degree of difficulty for shaker operators. Limited water supplies have increased stress levels throughout the region and compounded shaking difficulties. Growers need to allow ample time between the last pre-harvest irrigation and shaking to avoid damage to the trees. However, observers have noted that low soil moisture reserves are placing additional stress on the pollenizer varieties as the Nonpareil is being harvested.
Web-spinning mites presented some degree of difficulty for growers in the Kern County area all season long and have caused some orchards to lose enough leaves to complicate the drying of the crop after shaking. However, greatest difficulties would occur only the region receives rainfall during the harvest.