Monday, February 27, 2017

Lots of Rain, Wind and Sun: Ingredients for an Interesting Year for Valley Growers

Lots of bees are flying around the orchards.
We’ve had rain. We’ve had wind. And we’ve had sun.

Rain, wind and sun. Rain wind and sun.

And so it’s been around the Valley as well as mostof the entire soggy Golden State this winter.
Here we are at the end of February and we may be looking at more stormy days and nights if the ground hog’s foreshadowing earlier this month of more winter weather ahead of us holds true.

If growers had their way, they’d dispense with the winds and wet stuff today. That’s especially true for almond growers.

“The pollinators are out in full force. Bees are everywhere,” field scout Jenna Mayfield says. Yes, you certainly can say orchards are buzzing with activity as bees work their magic throughout the hundreds of thousands of acres of almond orchards across the Valley and state.
Soggy orchard floors require aerial spraying of trees.

In some parts of the Valley, younger trees are showing signs of blossoming. The older ones are nearing pink bud, Jenna says. The pollination season is in full swing for almonds.

Of course, the bees certainly can do without the steady rains that have left orchard floors swampy and 60 mph winds that uproot trees in recent weeks. Jenna notes some trees that were stressed by years of drought developed shallow roots and were easily toppled by the strong winds.

Meanwhile growers are looking to apply fungicides to their trees because of the rains. However, the soggy ground has made it impossible to bring spray rigs into the orchards. As a result, larger farming operations have relied on helicopters to spray the fungicides.

Jenna notes that the smaller farms can’t afford to spend money for expensive aerial applications. “We’re probably going to see a lot of disease and fungus problems at the smaller farms.”

These almond trees are close the pink bud.
We always say farming is very unpredictable from year to year. It will be especially true this season on the pest and disease management front. 

“We don’t really know what is going to happen with pests and diseases in the orchards,” Jenna says. What five years of drought followed by a very wet winter will bring is anyone’s guess right now.

 Already, the string of rainy days followed by sunny days is causing weeds to literally grow like weeds in almond orchards.

 “You’re going to see different kind of weeds, different kind of bugs that we haven’t seen around in quite a while.”

 Well, we can say one thing will be certain for 2017: Uncertainty.

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