Monday, March 11, 2013

Almond Bloom: A Kodak Moment Across the Valley

Almond blossoms add color to the Valley.

 This is one of our favorite times of the year. As you travel across the San Joaquin Valley, the landscape is ablaze in bright whites and pinks with tens of thousands of acres of almond orchards are in bloom.

The driest January and February on record in California offered that perfect Kodak moment: Breath-taking views of almond blossoms shimmering in the winter breeze and flickering in the bright morning and afternoon sunlight.

Things are really buzzing around bee boxes.

Rain has been a rare sight so far this year.
Warm temperatures, including a near-record high of 81 on March 2, have really pushed bloom of early almond varieties. In fact, some orchards start to bloom as early as mid-February. Now the bees are abuzz in the orchards as we see petal fall in some areas with greening emerging in the early varieties.

Although we recorded .21 inches of rain last Thursday, growers shouldn’t expect much wet stuff the rest of the month, weather forecasters predict. In fact, almond growers were worried about the dry weather in February and lack of significant rainfall on the horizon that they decided to do some wintertime irrigation, according to the USDA National Agricultural Services.

Petal fall and greening are starting in early varieties.
Because of this good weather, our almond expert, Walt Bentley, who holds the fancy title of UC IPM emeritus, advises growers to follow a less intensive disease management strategy. Of course, that would change if Mother Nature rains down on us and growers need to look out for rot and other diseases.

Walt also says bloom time is a good time to head into the orchard and check the lower interior of the leaves where there were mite problems last season. This gives you a good idea if mites are moving in early.

Indeed Jenna is already canvassing almond orchards in the San Joaquin Sustainable Farming Project and doing some early scouting for mites. She’s also collecting traps from last year. It’s still winter, but things are certainly buzzing in farm country.


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