May Crop Comments – California
In Napa County, sulfur applications on grapes and the suckering of grape vines continued. In Fresno County, rain and cloudy weather prolonged the bloom period for grapes. Growers continued to monitor the grape crop for powdery mildew and proactively applied fungicide programs as needed. Grape bloom was completed by mid-month. Cherries and apricots were being harvested and peach orchards were being thinned. Pesticide sprays on almond and pistachio orchards continued. Canopy management including shoot separation, shoot thinning, and leaf removal was completed, in order to improve the canopy microclimate. Walnut orchard irrigation continued. Sprays were administered to eliminate the weeds. Other controls such as mowing were also being utilized to manage weeds. In Madera County, applications of fungicide and micronutrients were applied to grapes. Vines were at full bloom or setting berries. Pesticide sprays were applied to tree fruit orchards. Fungicide and miticide applications on almond orchards were completed. In Stanislaus County, stone fruit continued to be thinned and orchards were irrigated. Early varieties of apricots, peaches, nectarines, and plums were harvested. Reflective plastic was placed in some orchards to help promote color. Summer pruning was started in some stone fruit orchards. The cherry harvest was going strong early in the month with small amounts being exported. Leaves were pulled from grape vines to improve air flow and sun light. Almond trees were showing rapid growth. In Tulare County, apricots, early peaches, and nectarines were harvested. Later varieties of stone fruit continued to be thinned and irrigated. Olive bloom was completed by mid-month. Pistachios and stored almonds continued to be packed and shipped to domestic and foreign markets. Almond trees showed rapid nut development. Cherry harvest slowed down significantly throughout several counties. In Merced County, husk fly traps were placed in almond orchards. In Sutter and Yuba Counties, almonds were developing quickly. Pistachio orchards received nutrient sprays.
Navel and Valencia oranges continued to be harvested. Navel oranges were being packed for the domestic market, with late varieties exported to Asia and Central America. The Valencia orange harvest accelerated. The Navel crop continued to mature with the warmer weather with some quality issues reported. Most Navel oranges were packed for the domestic market with late varieties being exported. Cara Cara oranges, grapefruit, and lemons continued to be harvested, packed, and shipped to foreign and domestic markets. Seedless tangerines remained netted to prevent cross pollination. Citrus groves continued to be irrigated. By month’s end, Cara Cara orange harvest was almost over, with shipments primarily being domestic due to quality concerns.
In the citrus growing region reported, daily high temperatures were about average for this time of the year. All reporting stations had highs varying from the upper 80’s on most days to over 90 degrees a few days. Morning lows were mostly in the 60s and 70s. Rainfall was well above average in most of the citrus growing region. Five of seventeen monitored rain stations had totals of over ten inches of rainfall. The most precipitation fell in the Western Region. Joshua (Desoto County) had the highest amount at 11.74 inches, followed by Vero Beach (Indian River County) at 11.31 inches. According to the May 31, 2016 U.S. Drought Monitor, all citrus growing counties were drought free.
Weekly Valencia orange harvest is relatively over for the season. Growers are now turning their attention to next season’s crop. Most healthy trees are holding fruit golf ball size or larger. Many citrus growers are replacing trees or entire groves severely impacted by greening. As caretakers are taking out old non-productive trees, they are leaving younger healthy trees in hope of a productive crop for next season. Other grove activities included topping and hedging after harvest, irrigation, fertilizing, spraying, mowing, and brush removal.
2016 California Dried Plum (Prune) Forecast
The 2016 California dried plum (prune) crop is forecast at 45 thousand tons, down 58 percent from the 107 thousand tons reported to the California Dried Plum Board as produced in 2015. Total 2016 bearing acreage is estimated at 45,000, six percent below the previous year. The French prune variety accounts for virtually all dried plum acreage grown in California. The production forecast is based on a survey of dried plum growers conducted by the USDA, NASS, Pacific Regional Office from May 12-31, 2016.
The 2016 dried plum season appears to be very difficult. Storms, with cold, wet, and windy weather, created problems during the bloom and adverse conditions for bees during the height of the pollination period. If the forecast is realized, this year’s crop would be the smallest on record since official estimates began in 1920.
Pacific Region Fruit & Nut Review (.pdf) full report.