Central California - April 29, 2013
This report covers conditions and observations made between Monday, April 15 and Sunday, April 28, 2013. The next report is scheduled for Monday, June 3, 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 central region present a Butte and Padre planting under irrigation in the Tracy area of San Joaquin County, followed by a cut-away nut of the Nonpareil showing the clear gel within the kernel and an example of the degree of Non-infectious Bud Failure that has affected many Carmel plantings, both in the Salida area of Stanislaus County.
Dry conditions prevailed over the central region during the latter half of April. Daily maximum temperatures warmed during the period, rising from the mid and upper 60’s as the period began to peak in the mid and upper 80’s. Morning minimum temperatures generally followed a similar pattern with readings rising from the upper 40’s to the mid and upper 50’s as the period concluded. However, the morning of Wednesday, April 17th provided the coldest minimum temperatures when readings dropped into the mid 30’s after a day of dry, north winds, which dropped dew point readings to very low levels. Winds were a major factor in the period’s weather, though generally to a lesser degree than was experienced during the first half of the month. Wind speeds of 10 to 15 mph were common during the period with speeds topping out in the lower 20’s on the windiest days.
Observers are reporting that the 2013 crop has benefited greatly from the generally warm temperatures the region has received since the completion of the bloom. Morning temperatures have remained above damaging levels while daily maximums have reached above normal values on the vast majority of days. This has produced strong growth rates and relatively advanced maturity levels. While many orchards are still shedding nuts that will not be carried to maturity, the winds that the region has endured over the past month has generally scrubbed the trees clean. Close examination of the cut-away nut in this report’s second photos shows that the kernels of the Nonpareil are just beginning to solidify. Growers are now waiting for the first and best indication of maturity, which will be noted when the first nuts have become fully solidified.
Growers have been busy irrigating and fertilizing the developing crop. Many have incorporated newly developed protocols for early-season leaf tissue analysis used to determine proper fertilization requirements. These new procedures, developed by the University of California are designed to help growers use fertilizer materials more efficiently, potentially reducing the amount required while maintaining optimum nutrition levels.
Water supplies dominate discussions in the region. Growers along the west side drawing their water from the federal Central Valley Project will be receiving no more than 20% of their contracted amounts, forcing them to rely on privately owned deep wells. Growers on the east side of the San Joaquin River who receive their water from Sierra Nevada snowmelt via local irrigation districts have larger allocations, but still face limits on the total amount of water available. Growers are very concerned about their ability to meet their orchards water requirements should they experience a repeat of the abnormally high temperatures that struck the region during July and August 2012. Well drillers report that they are very busy reconditioning existing wells and drilling new ones.
As mentioned in previous reports, most noticeable within the region’s orchards is the amount of Non-infectious Bud Failure evident in many Carmel plantings. The impacts of this genetic disorder, which can severely impact yields, can be easily seen in the third photo accompanying this report.
While the beneficial weather has produced very low bloom and post-bloom disease pressure, the degree of Rust and Scab observed during the past two years has inspired growers to treat their most seriously infected and susceptible orchards, many of which carry the scars of infection lesions on new woody growth. Treatments for these debilitating fungal organisms must be completed prior to infection and growers who have endured the most serious problems have been treating to prevent additional infections this year.
Some observers have noted increased gopher activity in orchards planted in sandy soils. In addition to disrupting the orchard floor, gophers can cause significant damage to root systems, enough to kill young trees and cripple older, mature trees.
Current weather at the National Weather Service
Photos: Mel Machado, 4/29/13
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