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Southern California - September 30, 2013

This report covers conditions and observations made between Monday, September 2 and Sunday September 29, 2013. The next report is scheduled for Monday, October 28, 2013. However, in the event of any significant occurrences prior to that date, this site will be updated as soon as possible.

Our photos for the southern region show a shaker moving through an orchard and the previously shaken Monterey drying in Madera County, followed by a view of stockpiled product being stored at the sheller for processing later in the year n Kern County.

The end of summer delivered noteworthy changes in the southern region’s weather. Maximum temperatures rose from the lower 90’s as the period began, peaking at just over 100 degrees by September 7th. Readings then dropped steadily, bottoming out into the lower 70’s by the 25th, then rose back into the mid 80’s as the period came to an end. Morning low temperatures declined steadily during the period, dropping from the upper 60’s and lower 70’s in the period’s opening days to the upper  40’s and lower 50’s as the period ended. The most notable feature of the period came in the form of a Pacific storm system that passed mainly to the north of the region, but scattered sporadic rainfall across Madera and portions of Fresno County on September 21st. While light and sporadic in nature, with total rainfall amounts limited to 0.1 to 0.2 inch, enough rain was received to slow the pace of activity in the orchards.

Harvest operations are now entering their final stages in the southern San Joaquin Valley with observers reporting that the harvest is now 85% to 90% complete.  Growers moved quickly through the Nonpareil and into the various pollenizers during the month, delivering a significant proportion of the field run product to stockpiles for shelling later in the season. While growers normally send large quantities of the crop to stockpiles, the compressed nature of the 2013 harvest quickly exceeded the ability of the region’s huller/shellers to absorb the harvested product, causing growers to send a greater proportion of their crop to stockpiles. Observers have also reported that the quickly filling stockpile yards at the huller/shellers have required growers to stockpile product on their own property.

As the crop has been shaken, growers are reporting that the nuts dried quickly on the orchard floor up to the point that the storm’s passage. However, the cooler days following storm, combined with the decreasing amount of daylight available has slowed the rate of drying, requiring that growers leave the crop on the ground for a longer period of time.

Growers are now shaking the few remaining Butte and Padre plantings yet to be harvested and the last to harvest Monterey and Fritz varieties. Those who have completed their harvest have moved quickly to make their critical post-harvest irrigation, both to replenish soil moisture levels depleted during the harvest and to provide nourishment required to support the next crop’s developing flower buds. Some orchards have also received applications of gypsum as growers work to reduce the impact of salts that have accumulated in the soil during the growing season.  Observers are reporting increasing injury in the orchards as a result of rising salinity levels in their irrigation water. All in the region are hoping for adequate amounts of rainfall during the coming winter to leach excessive salts from the soil profiles. Further above normal snowpack levels in the Sierra Nevada watershed are required to ensure adequate supplies of water for the 2014 irrigation season. Growers receiving their water from the federal Central Valley Project have already been informed that a normal run-off season will result in no water allocations for the 2014 season.

Current weather at the National Weather Service

Photos: Ernie Reichmuth and Gerald Guthrie, 9/30/13
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