Monday, March 2, 2015

Winter Wonderland Blossoms Across the San Joaquin Valley

From afar, the scene resembles a winter wonderland – snow covered tree tops and fresh white powder dusting the ground below.
No, the late-winter storm that passed through the Valley over the weekend didn’t transform almond orchards into a Sierra-like landscape for skiers or snowshoe hikers. It’s the acres and acres of almond trees in full white bloom across the Valley. 

“We have a lot of bloom and a lot bees out in the orchards,” field scout Jenna Horine says. It looks just like snow with white pedals dotting the orchard floors. It’s a sight to behold.

Right now, we’re at the height of the pollination period.  The bee boxes placed at the orchard margins expect to be out there for another couple of weeks. 
The small amount of weekend rain was welcomed by all. These days no one is complaining about free water from Mother Nature. Jenna is quick to note that any amount of the wet stuff gives growers a break from turning on the irrigation faucet. At the same time, she adds that the rainy weather shouldn’t create any pest or disease problems or interfere with pollination.

It’s hard to believe we’re at the start of another almond season. In the coming weeks, Jenna will start setting out traps in the orchards to monitor for troublesome pests, including navel orangeworm.  It won’t be long before she’s making her rounds again through the orchards, providing a second set of field scouting eyes for almond growers.

Field Day Alert: Circle Thursday, March 12 on your calendar for the San Joaquin Sustainable Farming Project’s first event of 2015. Learn about pesticide and pest management issues in almonds, alfalfa cotton at this free event scheduled from 10 a.m. to noon at the Scout Hut, 1910 Marguerite Street, Dos Palos. Our speakers are UC IPM extension advisor Dr. Pete Goodell, state Department of Pesticide Regulation environmental scientist Brandi Martin and Chris Linneman, program manager and engineer with the Westside San Joaquin River Watershed Coalition.  For more information, contact program Director Marcia Gibbs at (530) (530) 370-5325. See you there.

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