California: Rains Finally Arrive – US-DA

    Crop Progress and Condition for the Week Ending February 9, 2014.


    The remains of a weak low pressure system spread light showers across California at the start of the week. High pressure quickly moved in behind this system to return the dry and mild conditions by Tuesday which continued through midweek.  Towards the end of the week this pattern finally broke down and permitted the storm door to open up a bit for California.

    The first storms were cold and brought relatively minor precipitation to California but by the weekend, a moist subtropical air mass was drawn towards the West Coast, resulting in a classic “atmospheric river” pattern which brought the first really heavy precipitation to the State in over a year.  Periods of heavy rain fell across much of the State, with a particular focus across the Central Coast, the Sacramento Valley and across the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

    The subtropical air which brought the moisture was relatively warm, so snow levels were very high with this storm and much of the precipitation which fell in the mountains was in the form of rain.  Showers decreased on Sunday as the bulk of the moisture shifted away from California.



    Non-irrigated wheat and small grains in the Northern Central Valley showed a positive response to recent rains.  Rice fields were drained and leveled.  Oats showed better growth due to rain, but conditions were still below average.  Alfalfa was sprayed for aphids, but it still required irrigation to maintain growth.  Growers prepared for corn field plantings.


    More and more stone fruit trees began blooming.  Pruning in fruit orchards and vineyards continued.  Canes were being tied in kiwi and grape vineyards.  Blueberry bloom was increasing.  Navel orange, Murcott tangerine and lemon harvests continued in the San Joaquin Valley.  Minneola tangelo harvest began.


    Rain this past week was a relief to nut growers, although more rain is still needed.  Almond bloom began in scattered orchards across the State.  Most trees were still pushing buds.  Pruning remained active in walnut, pecan, and pistachio orchards.


    Fields in Tulare County were prepared and planted with winter vegetables.  Onion, broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage continued to grow well.  Certified producers were growing peas, carrots, and kale.  In Fresno County, harvest of winter vegetables slowed due to wet conditions.  Processing tomato fields were bedded and received fumigation.  Fumigation for carrot plantings was ongoing.  Early asparagus began to emerge in San Joaquin County.  Parsley, onions, spinach, and broccoli were growing well in Stanislaus County.


    Range and non-irrigated pasture continue in poor to fair condition.  Despite the storms, drought conditions continued across most of the State.  Livestock supplemental feeding of hay and grain continued.  Bees are in place for almond pollination.

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