Monday, February 25, 2013

Rain, Water, Sun and Field Day Are the Talk of the Valley

 Mother Nature didn’t fool us with the last week’s stormy weather. Even with nearly an inch of rainfall falling in parts of the San Joaquin Valley, we’re still on our way to a thirsty month. The Weather Service says February rainfall is still a half-inch below normal.

In fact, for a couple days this month, it was almost spring-like with the daily high temperatures hitting the low 70s. Of course, the almond trees certainly don’t need a rain gauge or thermometer to tell them this has been a relatively dry, warmish month.

Buds are popping out in the almond trees.
Almond field scout Jenna Horine is seeing buds popping up. Here are some photos she took in some of the local orchards. You also are seeing bee boxes lining the perimeter of many orchards. Speaking of photos, we will be posting photos of the latest developments in the Valley almond orchards throughout the season – from now until harvest.

Hey, doesn’t the saying go a “picture is worth a thousand words.” Let’s see. We have three photos here. That saves you from reading 3,000 words.

Bee boxes are a common sight now around orchards.
Well, we will supply some more words in the future to accompany our photos chronicling the year in the life of an almond: From bud to crack out. We also plan to keep you posted with plenty of photos from the cotton and alfalfa fields this year. So give us a smile if you see us snapping some shots in the orchards and fields this season.

All this talk about rain and lack of rain naturally makes growers wonder about this year’s water allocation. For those in the Westlands Water District, here’s the latest statement released by officials on Friday, February 22:

The Bureau of Reclamation has not yet made its announcement; however, the District’s current projection for the initial 2013-2014 allocation for south-of-Delta Central Valley Project agricultural water service contractors is approximately 25 percent. Although there have been exceptionally dry conditions during January and the first half of February, the primary reason for the current allocation projection is restrictions imposed on export pumping under the 2008 Delta smelt biological opinion. Looking farther out, the District’s projection for the final allocation for the water year is approximately 35 percent, unless it gets very wet and flood flows occur on the San Joaquin River. The district anticipates Reclamation’s initial announcement will come early(this) week.

We will keep you posted on the water front.

Field Day Nears: Don’t forget the free forum about pest and crop management and water issues impacting almond, alfalfa and cotton this Wednesday, February 27 from 2 to 4:30 p.m. at the Firebaugh Community Center, 1655 13th St. in Firebaugh. The speakers are: Brian Leahy, director of the Department of Pesticide Regulation; UC Cooperative Extension Merced pomology farm advisor David Doll (almonds); UC Davis/UCCE entomologist Larry Godfrey and alfalfa specialist Dan Putman; UCCE Kern County entomologist David Haviland; and Westside SJR Watershed Coalition engineer Chris Linneman. See you there.

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