Company Info

Southern California - September 3, 2012

This report covers conditions and observations made between Monday, August 6 and Sunday, September 2, 2012.

The next report is scheduled for Monday, October 1, 2012. 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 show the Nonpareil crop drying on the orchard floor after shaking in the Madera area of Madera County, followed by a shot of the crop being loaded onto trucks during the harvest and the hull split of the Monterey, both in Kern County.

Highest temperatures of the month were reported in the southern region, increasing the pace of crop development and picking up the tempo of the 2012 harvest. Daily maximum temperatures quickly increased from the mid and upper 90’s as the period began, ranging between 105 and 110 degrees during the peak of an approximately two week long heat wave. Temperatures moderated slightly during the latter half of the month with readings reported again in the mid and upper 90’s. Morning lows were also reported at elevated levels, rising from the mid 60’s as the period began to the lower 80’s during the peak of the heat wave.

The 2012 harvest is progressing rapidly in the southern San Joaquin Valley. Growers are moving quickly through their Nonpareil plantings, pausing only a few days after shaking to sweep and pick up the crop for delivery to the huller/shellers or to stockpile yards for shelling later this year. Observers around the region are reporting that the August heat wave has increased the pace of crop development and reduced kernel moisture percentages to very low levels. Further, the impacts of the dry winter, which produced both depleted soil moisture levels and increase soil salinity that irrigations have not been able to compensate for have produced elevated stress levels in many of the region’s orchards. This has resulted in increasing spider mite populations and premature defoliation. The degree of defoliation is also being exacerbated during shaking, with many leaves falling from the trees as the crop is removed from the trees. Many growers are reporting very dry kernel moisture levels, below the desired moisture of 5% and lower than expected yield levels, as well. At this point in time, it has become apparent that this year’s weather conditions have caused some yield reduction in at least the Nonpareil variety.

The heat has also hastened the pace of the Nonpareil harvest. Even “green” or immature fruit has dried quickly over the past few weeks and some growers have reported that they now believe they could have started shaking one week earlier. Additionally, crop that has been shaken is reported to have dried quite rapidly, allowing growers to send harvesters into the fields relatively quickly.

In all cases, after the Nonpareil has been removed, growers are immediately irrigating their orchards in order to reduce adverse impacts on the pollenizer varieties remaining to be harvested and to support the developing flower buds on the Nonpareil. Observers are reporting that given the advanced hull split of the pollenizers, growers are feeling a bit rushed. However, the already elevated stress levels were increased during the Nonpareil harvest, when irrigations were withheld in order to facilitate removal of the crop and growers are urgently working to reduce the stress. Shakers are being back sent into the orchards as soon as conditions allow and shaking has already begun in the Carmel, Price, Aldrich, Sonora, Butte and Padre varieties. As shown in the photo accompanying this report, even the late harvesting Monterey is splitting well and some growers in Kern County are planning on shaking their Monterey during the second week of September.

Observers are reporting widely varying damage levels by Navel Orange Worm, NOW, with the vast majority of crops having very low reject levels and an occasional orchard exhibiting an excessive degree of damage. Excessive temperatures during the period drove insect life cycles ahead, complicating treatment timing and making effective control a bit problematic.

Current weather at the National Weather Service

Photos: Ernie Reichmuth and Gerald Guthrie, 9/3/12
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