Southern California - October 28, 2013
This is the final report of the 2013 crop year, covering the conditions and observations made between Monday, September 30 and Sunday, October 27, 2013. The next report will be posted on or about Monday, February 3, 2014 prior to the start of the 2014 bloom.
This report’s photos for the southern region present a down-the-row shot of prunings remaining on the orchard floor wait to be shredded, followed by a potassium fertilizer application and irrigation in Madera County and the compost and gypsum piles waiting to be spread in the orchards in Kern County.
Warm temperatures and dry skies reigned over the southern San Joaquin Valley during October, as the continuing dry conditions dominated the region’s weather. Daily maximum temperatures were reported predominately between the mid and upper 70’s and mid and upper 80’s on nearly every day during the period; the lone exception being October 8th, when cloudy skies covered the region as a dry cut-off low spun across the southern state. Morning low temperatures were reported at the greatest levels early in the period with readings dropping only into the upper 60’s. Readings quickly cooled, however, dipping into the upper 40’s and lower 50’s for the majority of the period.
With the exception of a few stragglers working to bring in the last of the Fritz variety, harvest operations have been completed in the southern San Joaquin Valley. While the dry conditions provide cause for concern, growers have enjoyed a nearly trouble-free harvest this year, with no weather related difficulties. Observers are reporting very good crop quality with very low reject levels. However, the small kernel sizes observed in the Nonpareil variety have also been reported in the balance of the crop. With the completion of the field harvest, sheller operations have turned their attention to their stockpile yards and are now running previously harvested product. Observers anticipate that the largest operations will continue to run well into December.
Growers quickly turned their attention to the various post-harvest tasks. Following the extended dry period required during the harvest, irrigation becomes the first order of business. Given the amount of leaf cover and continuing dry conditions, many have also completed a second irrigation.
By the start of the harvest, many had noticed the effects of rising salinity levels in the orchards. The shortage of surface water deliveries forced most producers to use higher than normal percentages of well water for their irrigation needs. In some cases, water from underground sources was all that was applied throughout the growing season. The results of using this 'salty' water were all too apparent in many orchards by the beginning of August. The visual evidence increased as the harvest progressed and the trees were stressed slightly for harvest purposes, as the leaves turned brown at the margins and tips. The problems have been particularly acute along the west side of the region and in the Kern County area. To counter these affects, many plantings have received applications of gypsum to aid in leaching salt from the soils in addition to treatments with zinc and potassium fertilizer materials. Observers have also reported that many growers are applying compost materials to their orchards, both to provide nutrients and to aid in “opening up” the soil to assist the gypsum applications in correcting excessive salinity levels. All that the region needs now is a good soaking wet winter, both to provide the water needed to cleanse the soils and to provide snowpack in the Sierra Nevada watershed for irrigation needs next year.
Current weather at the National Weather Service
Photos: Ernie Reichmuth and Gerald Guthrie, 10/28/13
Click an image to enlarge it