California Crop Conditions Heading into July

Brian GermanAgri-Business, Industry

A recent report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) shows that temperatures are heating up. The California Crop Progress and Condition report from USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service also points out that there are still several inches of snow water content in the Sierras. The report also shows that farmers in the Central Valley have been busy with the wheat harvest and cutting alfalfa for hay and silage.

Crop Conditions

Corn fields have seen rapid growth, with producers applying herbicides and fertilizers to ensure healthy development. With the anticipation of excessive heat over the weekend, farmers have been preparing their fields accordingly. Meanwhile, in the Sacramento Valley, rice fields have been receiving applications of herbicides and fertilizers. In the San Joaquin Valley, cotton fields are starting to bloom, although moderate insect pressure has been reported, leading to treatment for lygus bugs.

California fruit growers have also been busy. Grape vineyards have undergone thinning to enhance sunlight exposure, while wine grapes have been sprayed for weed control. Stone fruit harvest is in full swing, with nectarines, plums, and peaches being picked. Field crews have been thinning trees to ensure proper fruit development, and some growers have used reflective tarps on orchard floors to enhance fruit color. Apricot and cherry harvests are nearing completion.

Citrus groves have been treated for pests and weeds, and some trees have been pruned. Valencia orange harvests are ongoing, and lemons, grapefruits, and mandarins continue to be harvested and packed. Kiwi vineyards have been tied and irrigated, and pomegranates are progressing well, with bloom tapering off and fruit starting to set. Apples are also in the developmental stage, the report noted. Strawberry harvest in Tulare County concluded due to high temperatures at the end of the week, while olive trees have undergone trimming.

In the nut crop sector, almonds have been progressing well, with meat fill already complete. The maturation of pistachios, walnuts, and pecans is also underway. Pest and disease pressures have been relatively low in most areas. However, walnut growers have taken precautions by applying sun protectants on field edges ahead of the expected extreme heat.

The vegetable crop industry has seen significant progress as processing tomatoes continue to grow across the Central Valley. Sweet potatoes, sweet corn, garlic, and onion harvests have either begun or are in progress. Summer vegetables have been planted, and various crops such as broccoli, celery, lettuce, mushrooms, and cauliflower have been harvested in the Salinas Valley. The report also states that carrot harvests in Kern County are ongoing.

In the livestock sector, the extreme heat has resulted in the drying of rangeland vegetation. Foothill rangeland and non-irrigated pasture have been reported to be in good condition. Bees have been diligently pollinating melon fields, while cattle continue to graze on lower elevation ranges. Movement of stock upslope has been ongoing. Additionally, sheep have been grazing on fallow fields and retired farmland.

Brian German
Ag News Director / AgNet West