Southern California - June 3, 2013
This report covers conditions and observations made between Monday, April 29 and Sunday, June 2, 2013. The next report is scheduled for Monday, July 1, 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 southern region present the heavy set of the Monterey in Kern County, followed an example of the tell-tale gumming produced by the feeding of the Leaf-Footed Plant Bug on the Avalon variety in the Chowchilla area of Madera County. Our final image shows the results of the insect’s feeding, which has destroyed the affected kernels.
Windy conditions and variable, but generally mild temperatures dominated the weather in the southern region during May. Daily maximum temperatures reached their greatest values in the period’s closing days when readings reached just over 100 degrees. Otherwise, maximum temperatures varied between the mid and upper 70’s and the low to mid 90’s for much of the period as pulses of moisture passed over the state, dropping several hundredths of an inch of rain around the region. Morning minimum temperatures were equally mild, with readings reported predominately between the lower 50’s and lower 60’s. Observers noted that daily winds continued to influence grower’s activities during the period. Wind speeds on many days reached well into the teens, increasing moisture consumption and hindering grower’s pest management efforts.
Growers in the southern San Joaquin Valley enjoyed the break from the increasing temperatures normally experienced during May while working to provide for the needs of the developing crop. Observers have reported that kernels of all varieties are now fully solidified, signifying the possibility of a normal start of the harvest.
Weed control, fertilization and irrigation were prime activities during the month; however, pest management became a dominant task for many in the region. While mowing excessive vegetation, growers were also monitoring their orchards for the presence of Leaf-Footed Plant Bug, LFPB, which infested many orchards around the region. Growers with Fritz, Aldrich, Sonora, Monterey and Butte were particularly vigilant given the insect’s preference for those varieties. As shown in the photos accompanying this report, feeding by the adult insect causes a clear exudate on the hull and kills the kernel if attacked prior to solidification. Later feeding can cause gummy kernels and Brown Spot, both of which are classified as rejects. Growers have also been watching rising populations of web-spinning mites. Elevated temperatures earlier in the season promoted development of insect and mite pests, while windy conditions have made proper treatments difficult. Additionally, winds have covered trees with dust, reducing the efficacy of preventative miticide applications. While growers were reluctant to employ an insecticide to control LFPB that would also disrupt beneficial insect populations, increasing infestations forced many to treat. Fortunately, observers are now reporting that the LFPB has diverted its attention towards pistachio plantings now that the almond shells have hardened.
Growers have been also monitoring more traditional pests such as Navel Orange Worm, NOW, and ants. Growers and Pest Control Advisors are reporting that trap catches in the newly employed pheromone traps for NOW have been quite high. However, all are working to interpret the numbers from the new traps and their comparison to the more traditional monitoring methods. Growers will begin treatments to control NOW within the next few weeks. Growers will also begin applications of bait formulations targeted to reduce populations of Southern Fire Ant and Pavement Ants that typically feed on almonds during the harvest.
Water management continues to be a prime activity. Growers have been forced to rely increasingly on their deep wells for water this year as they work to supplement deliveries from local irrigations and have noted that pumping levels within their wells are dropping. Water deliveries from the Madera Irrigation District will begin within the next week, while supplies from the Chowchilla Water District will be available in mid-June. As noted in previous reports, deliveries from the federal Central Valley Project remain at 20% of contacted amounts. While the cooler temperatures experienced during May provided a relaxation in water consumption, this was partially offset by the windy conditions.
Forecasters are calling for the return to more normal, seasonally warm temperatures during June.
Current weather at the National Weather Service
Photos: Ernie Reichmuth and Gerald Guthrie, 6/3/13
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