Southern California - March 31, 2014
This report covers conditions and observations made between Monday, March 17 and Sunday, March 30, 2014. The next report is scheduled for Monday, April 28, 2014. However, in the event of any significant occurrences prior to that date, this site will be updated as soon as possible.
This report’s photos for the southern region present the developing nuts of the Nonpareil and Carmel in the Madera area of Madera County, followed by a foliar fertilizer application in the McFarland area of Kern County.
Storm clouds swept over the southern San Joaquin Valley on Wednesday, March 26th, ending a period of nearly cloud-free skies and above normal temperatures that have provided good support for the developing crop. Daily maximum temperatures were widely reported in the upper 60’s to lower 70’s as the period began, then gradually rose to the upper 70’s and lower 80’s by Monday, the 24th. Readings then slipped into the lower 60’s on Wednesday, the 26th as the first storm arrived, then rose gently back into the low to mid 60’s as the period concluded. Morning low temperatures proved to be a bit more consistent, with readings reported predominately in the 40’s. However, there were several reports of minimum values dipping to as low as the upper 30’s and as high as the lower 50’s.
Rainfall was reported in the region on Wednesday the 26th and again on Saturday, the 29th, with total amounts for the period ranging from just a trace in areas of Kern County to as much as 0.6 inch in areas of Madera County.
As may be seen in the photos accompanying this report, the crop in the southern San Joaquin Valley is growing well, with the nuts sizing quite rapidly under the influence of the above normal temperatures. Nuts in all varieties are in the latter stages of the differentiation process with nuts that the tree is unable to carry to maturity having been cut off from the flow of nutrients. These nuts, which can be easily seen in the trees due to their lighter color and smaller size are beginning to fall from the trees and will continue to do so over the coming weeks.
Observers in the Madera County area have noted that the fungal disease Shot Hole has been observed in several plantings and growers have responded by stepping up their monitoring and treatment programs. These operations are being conducted in between the regular orchards tasks such as weed control, fertilization and irrigation. While many in the region normally allow vegetative growth to flourish in the orchard “middles”, the area between the tree rows, mowing to keep it in check, this year many are opting to kill any vegetative growth entirely within the orchards in an effort to reduce water consumption.
Water consumption and the supplies needed to bring the crop to maturity stand as the foremost point of concern for all growers in the region. While growers in the Central California Irrigation District, the San Luis Canal Company, Firebaugh Canal Water District and Columbia Canal Company, collectively known as the “Exchange Contractors” have been notified that they will receive 40% of their contracted amounts due to their superior water rights, growers served by the reservoirs behind the Friant Dam and Hidden Dam on the east side of the valley will receive no water this year in order to meet the Exchange Contractor obligations. Growers throughout the southern San Joaquin Valley have been scrambling to secure available water and to reinforce their supplies of water available from privately owned wells. The recent rains have provided little relief, other than delaying an irrigation in the wettest areas of the region. However, all are hopeful that the potential runoff from the rain and snow received in the northern and central Sierra Nevada watershed will provide some increase in the runoff and that any increase will be captured for use this summer.
Current weather at the National Weather Service
Photos: Ernie Reichmuth and Matt Willson, 3/31/14
Click an image to enlarge it