Southern California - April 29, 2013
This report’s photos for the southern region present the now fully sized nuts of the Fritz in Kern County, followed by a grower mowing the vegetation between the Nonpareil and Sonora and an example of a Carmel tree severely affected by Non-infectious Bud Failure, both in Madera County.
Dry and occasionally windy conditions dominated the weather in the southern region over the past two weeks. Daily maximum temperatures increased daily from the mid 60’s as the period began, peaking in the upper 80’s to just over the 90 degree mark in the warmest locations by Monday, the 22nd. Readings then moderated slightly to the low to mid 80’s in the period’s closing days. Morning lows exhibited a similar pattern, rising from the lower 40’s to the mid and upper 50’s before settling back into the mid 40’s. Observers noted on aberration in the morning temperatures on Wednesday, the 17th, when readings briefly dipped into the mid 30’s, under the influence of the previous day’s drying winds that reduced dew points to very low levels. Winds reached above 20 mph on several days during the period, causing some nuts to be lost and creating some degree of difficulty for growers.
Irrigation, weed control and fertilization dominated grower’s activities during the latter half of April. Observers have reported that orchards in the region are growing well under the generally excellent conditions, with the winds providing the greatest challenge during the period. Observers reported that as in the first half of the month, winds knocked a few more nuts from the trees, disrupted irrigation schedules and simply became a bit of a nuisance.
Water continues to dominate grower’s attention. Irrigation districts in the southern region are all reporting limited delivery seasons and/or reduced supplies. Growers receiving their surface water from the Friant/Kern Canal have had their supply reduced to 35% of contracted amounts, while those drawing from the federal Central Valley Project will receive no more than 20%. Observers have also reported that the Madera and Chowchilla Irrigation District delivery seasons will run for only 55 days. Growers will be forced to rely increasingly on their deep wells to meet the orchards water needs. However, growers have already reported some difficulty with their wells as pumping levels drop. Wells are being lowered to draw on descending supplies and new wells are also being drilled.
Growers are monitoring their orchards nutritional levels, pulling leaf samples for tissue analysis using new protocols developed by the University of California to determine fertility needs earlier in the growing season. Fertilizer materials are being applied, primarily through the irrigation water by growers having drip or micro-sprinkler systems.
On the subject of pest management, Leaf-Footed Plant Bugs have made their presence known along the east side of the southern San Joaquin Valley, migrating into the orchards from the now drying grasslands. An occasional pest, this insect is capable of causing serious crop losses. The insect is particularly fond of the Aldrich, Fritz and Sonora and growers of these varieties are watching their orchards closely. Growers have noted the presence of adults and juvenile stages in the orchards and have treated as required. Observers have also noted the annual appearance of Southern Fire Ants. Growers will monitor populations during the growing season and treat as needed with bait formulations targeted to damaging species prior to harvest. Growers are beginning to treat their orchards with preventative miticides as well as fungicide materials intended to control Scab and Rust. As with the preventative miticides, the materials for Scab and Rust must be applied prior to infection in order to provide control. Treatments are being made to susceptible plantings with a history of infection.
As in the balance of the Central Valley, growers in the southern region with the Carmel variety are all commenting on the degree of Non-infectious Bud Failure visible this year. Many in the region will no longer plant the Carmel due to the variety’s susceptibility to the genetic disorder. There are no methods available to control the problem, which can severely impact yields.
Current weather at the National Weather Service
Photos: Ernie Reichmuth and Gerald Guthrie, 4/29/13
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