Southern California - February 7, 2013
This report covers observations and conditions just prior to the start of the 2013 bloom. We anticipate posting the first of the daily Bloom Reports late in the week of February 10, 2013.
Our photos for the first report of the 2013 season present the green tip stage of the early-blooming Neplus in Kern County, followed by cut-away buds of the Sonora and Nonpareil in the Chowchilla area of Madera County.
The storm systems that graced the northern half of California with ample rainfall during the late fall and early winter all but missed the southern San Joaquin Valley, leaving the southern region in a very dry condition. Locations all around the region are now reporting rainfall totals at 50% or less of seasonal normal levels, with wettest conditions reported in the northern areas of the region. Accordingly, growers within the region who have water available have already begun irrigating, while those drawing their supplies from irrigation districts must wait until water deliveries begin.
Cold temperatures during the final days of December and much of January dropped to very cold levels, with readings reported in the mid and upper 20’s in all areas of the region. This has apparently slowed bud development within the region’s orchards and delayed the start of the 2013 bloom by a few days, in spite of more seasonal temperatures experienced over the past few weeks.
A fringe benefit of the dry conditions has been almost unlimited access to the orchards. Growers have taken advantage of this and have been working throughout the period to complete fertilizer and soil amendment applications, pruning, shredding, herbicide applications and dormant season disease treatments. However, the relatively dry weather and resultant lack of fog have made for challenging conditions for those needing to complete winter sanitation. Shaking of mummy nuts required a concerted effort and observers are reporting that a number of orchards around the region still hold an undesirable number of overwintering mummies within the canopy. Growers around the region have also been busy planting new orchards and replacement trees within existing orchards.
Observers have noted the arrival of bee hives throughout the region since the first of the year. Beekeepers can be seen in all areas of the region delivering hives to the orchards in anticipation of the approaching bloom. The pace of deliveries will increase dramatically within the next two weeks as beekeepers work to assure that the bees are in place at the start of the bloom.
Current weather at the National Weather Service
Photos: Ernie Reichmuth and Gerald Guthrie, 2/7/13
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