Crop Progress and Condition for the Week Ending March 23, 2014.
At the start of the week, a weather disturbance moving through the Pacific Northwest just clipped the northwest corner of California, bringing the only rain reported in the State this week to the extreme northern coastal region. That weather disturbance then shifted eastward and a surface level high pressure cell settled over the Great Basin, bringing a dry and breezy weather pattern for the rest of the week.
Temperatures across Northern California were well above normal, with daytime highs across the Central Valley warming to the 70s. In Southern California, the Great Basin high pressure caused a weak Santa Ana Wind episode to develop, resulting in breezy and dry conditions for the Southland.
By Thursday, a dry low weather disturbance made its way across Southern California. This system brought a slight cooling trend to the South, but no precipitation, and had virtually no effect on the North. By the weekend, sunny skies continued all across the State and temperatures remained above normal.
Alfalfa was cut and baled throughout the State. Fields were monitored for aphids and weevils. Winter grains in Siskiyou County showed good quality due to recent storms. Winter wheat fields have begun to head out. Cotton planting has begun, but less than a quarter of the fields are planted. Fumigation began for potatoes in the North and fields were planted in the Central Valley. Ground preparation for corn continued.
Bloom on peach, nectarine, plum, cherry and apricot trees was decreasing, as trees began to leaf out and develop fruit. Fruit thinning began on early stone fruit varieties. Grape vines continued to leaf out and vine shoots were elongating. Grape growers began applying mildew sprays. Olive tree pruning remained active. Blueberries were blooming and pushing new growth. Navel and Valencia oranges, Murcott tangerines, grapefruit, lemons and Minneola tangelos were harvested. Early bloom was noted in some citrus groves due to the warm weather. Nets were placed over mandarin trees to prevent pollination from bees. Young citrus trees were pruned.
Almond and walnut growers applied fungicides to trees before this week’s rain arrives. Walnut catkins developed. Nutlets continued to grow on almond trees, and trees leafed out. Bud swell increased on pistachio trees.
In Fresno County, processing tomato beds received fumigation in preparation for spring transplant. Spring lettuce received insecticide applications and is growing nicely. Bell peppers were planted. Carrots, onions, and tomatoes were irrigated. Mustard seed blooming was nearly done. Onion fields were sprayed with herbicide. Monterey County reported brassica and lettuce continued to be planted with a few harvested. Tulare County reported winter vegetables were harvested for farmer’s markets.
Cucumbers, baby spinach, onions, and squash were growing well. Producers were preparing fields and greenhouses for summer vegetables. Asparagus harvest peaked in San Joaquin County. Carrot and tomato transplanting were ongoing as field preparation continued in Sutter County.
Range and pastures have not been producing an adequate amount of grass due to the drought. Supplemental feeding of cattle and sheep continues. Some ranchers are reducing herds to lower supplemental feeding costs. Bee hives moving into stone fruit orchards remained active.