Monday, February 16, 2015

Almond Orchards Soon to Be Abuzz with Activity

While America’s favorite groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, may have predicted six more weeks of winter, you wouldn’t know it around the San Joaquin Valley.

Groundhog misses mark in the Valley.
First, the major rainstorm that dropped up to 12 inches of rain in remote parts of Northern California a week ago bypassed some parts of our region. Folks in Firebaugh and Mendota reported few, if any, sprinkles from the sky. At most, a few areas of Fresno County recorded less than a half inch of rain, bringing the 2015 total to about three quarters of an inch.
With weather like that, it’s not surprising to see farms abuzz with lots of activity. 
 In almonds, field scout Jenna Horrine spotted some of the first bee boxes to arrive in an orchard located in the northwest section of the Valley. Jenna notes this area near Interstate 5 is normally the warmest part of the Valley. We can expect more beekeepers arrive with their precious cargo in the next couple weeks.

The near-record high temperatures over the weekend certainly will speed things up in the orchards. Temperatures hit the mid-70s, just a few degrees shy of the all-time record. Do you call this winter? Take that Punxsutawney Phil.

First bee boxes were delivered in the west area.

Indeed, “we’re starting to get that push toward bloom,” Jenna says.
Yes, this is a picturesque time in almonds. Right now, orchards resemble an early morning sunrise with trees first lit up with pink buds dotting the limbs. Then orchards become aglow with bright pink pop corn buds. Finally, trees suddenly go into full bloom. That’s when bees go to work.

The pink bud stage. -- UC IPM Photo
Jenna reminds growers to be mindful of spraying their nearby fields during the pollination period. We need to keep bees healthy.

Pop corn bud stage.
Growers should refrain from treating their trees in the morning hours as bees prepare to go to work in the orchard. It’s best to spray in the late afternoon after bees return to the hive.
Anyone who keeps bees in California must register with the local County Agricultural Commissioner annually. This information will help beekeepers deal with neighbors and be notified about local pesticide and herbicide applications. It’s important we keep that healthy relationship between bees and almonds.

No comments:

Post a Comment