This report covers conditions and observations made between Monday, May 26 and Sunday, June 29, 2014. The next report is scheduled for Monday, August 4, 2014. However, in the event of any significant occurrences prior to that date, this site will be updated as soon as possible.
Providing a view of the conditions observed in the southern region, the first of this report’s photos show the developing hull split of the Nonpareil and the effects of excessively salty water applied to the Fritz variety, both in Madera County, while our final image shows an orchard that has received inadequate irrigation in the Wasco area of Kern County. You may also note that the foliage in the second image has been infested by web-spinning mites.
Warm to hot conditions accompanied the transition into the summer season in the southern San Joaquin Valley. Daily maximum temperatures rose steadily from the low to mid 80’s in the period’s opening days, peaking at 108 degrees on June 9th. Readings then oscillated between the mid 80’s and 100 degrees for the balance of the period. Minimum values followed the pattern set by the daily high’s ranging between the lower 50’s and lower 70’s for the duration of the period. Wind speeds were less of an issue than in the balance of the Central Valley, but still reached speeds in the mid and upper teens on the windiest days.
Water supplies and quality continue to reign over growers’ thoughts and activities during the period as they worked to support their crops. Observers have reported that growers in the Madera County area have experienced significant difficulties as water levels have dropped and their privately owned wells have failed. As previously reported, surface water in the area is largely unavailable and growers have had to rely on their own wells. In spite of the difficulties, nearly all growers have found a way to get by, with neighbors helping neighbors and well drillers and pump service companies scrambling throughout the countryside.
While orchards can be found in good condition, many plantings throughout the southern San Joaquin Valley can be found in obvious distress. The most serious stress levels result in defoliation of the orchard. However, the most prevalent symptoms include little or no spur development in plantings that have been deficit irrigated all season long and growth that has stopped in plantings that received adequate water earlier in the growing season and have now been cut back. Wilted trees can be observed in many areas as water consumption exceeds the amount applied. As can be seen in the second of this report’s photos, in plantings that have been irrigated with poor quality water, leaf burn and defoliation is the prevalent symptom. Observers have noted that growers have had to treat many plantings for infestations of web spinning mites, which have prospered under the dry conditions.
Observers have reported that growers have begun treatments to control Navel Orange Worm in plantings where the hull split has begun. Treatments will follow the path of the hull split as it progresses throughout the region. Poor conditions for the removal of mummy nuts during the past winter have made hull split treatments especially important this year as growers work to reduce the level of infested kernels in the harvested crop. Bait applications targeted at rising ant populations have also begun.
Growers are anticipating that they will start the harvest by shaking the first of the Nonpareil in the most stressed plantings along the region’s west side during the week of July 20th. In the meantime, growers will be spending the upcoming weeks preparing the floor of their orchards for coming harvest, controlling weed growth where needed and preparing their harvest machinery.