Central California - March 17, 2014
This report covers conditions and observations made between Friday, March 7 and Sunday, March 16, 2014. The next report is scheduled for Monday, March 31, 2014. However, in the event of any significant occurrences prior to that date, this site will be updated as soon as possible.
Taken in San Joaquin County, this report’s photos for the central region present the developing nuts of the Nonpareil and Carmel near Escalon and the Butte near Manteca.
Warm temperatures and bright skies with generally light cloud cover typified the weather in the northern San Joaquin Valley during the period, interrupted briefly by light rain on Monday, March 10th, which dropped trace amounts to as much as 0.15 inch around the region. Morning lows remained at safe levels, ranging predominately between the lower 40’s and lower 50’s, with readings on Saturday, the 15th dipping into the upper 30’s. Daily maximum temperatures rose during the period, increasing from the mid 60’s on the 7th and 8th to the mid and upper 70’s as the period concluded.
The overall pleasant weather conditions have provided good support for the developing crop in the northern San Joaquin. As may seen in the photos accompanying this report, nuts of all varieties are now well into the differentiation process and are segregating into several sizes. Larger nuts are also breaking free from their protective jacket, while smaller sizes are withering and falling to the ground.
Observers are reporting that the orchards are in good condition, with only traces of the fungal disease, Shot Hole visible in a few plantings. Some growers in San Joaquin County have reported damaging infestation levels of Oblique Banded Leaf Rollers feeding on the developing nuts and have treated accordingly. This potentially serious pest feeds on the small nutlets of all varieties, but can be particularly damaging in tightly clustered varieties such as Avalon, Butte and Carmel. Some have also noted that the expression of Non-Infectious Bud Failure in the Carmel variety is particularly evident this year, with more orchards expressing the disorder for the first time. This genetic disorder is endemic in the Carmel and is not transmissible between trees.
As the crop develops, growers have noted that the weakness of the Nonpareil bloom documented in previous reports has apparently been carried into the crop. While still early in the growing season, many have commented that the Nonpareil crop appears to be the weakest of all varieties. Given last year’s outstanding Nonpareil production, this is not unexpected.
Water continues to be the main topic of discussion by all in the region. Local irrigation districts drawing their supplies directly from Sierra Nevada reservoirs are still formulating their plans for the year and are expected to announce the start of their delivery season within the next few days. Several delayed the start of their deliveries as a result of the rain received during the bloom. At this point in time, growers in the South San Joaquin Irrigation District, which serves growers in the Escalon, Ripon and Manteca area of San Joaquin County, are expecting full allocations for the 2013 season. However, growers in all other districts are facing severe cutbacks in the amount of water they will receive. Those along the I-5 corridor on the west side of the region will receive no water from the Federal or State Water Projects and must rely on alternative sources, where available. Most with water available from private wells have refrained from drawing on their personal supplies. However, rising temperatures forecast for the next week will increase pressure to begin the irrigation season.
Growers have kept busy during the period managing weed populations and working to support the developing crop. Fertilizer applications are being made and trees are being tied to support the crop. Beekeepers can also be found collecting hives for movement to the next crop requiring their services.
Current weather at the National Weather Service
Photos: Mel Machado, 3/17/14
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