APRIL CROP COMMENTS – CALIFORNIA
Stone fruit trees finished blooming and fruit development continued. Early variety apricot, nectarine, and peach harvests were underway. Cherry growers sprayed for worms as harvest began for early varieties. Prune and plum trees continued to leaf out and set fruit. Fruit thinning remained active on stone fruit trees, while reflective foil was placed in orchards to increase fruit color. Grapes bloomed and leafed out; bunches were developing. Grape growers applied fungicides and fertilizers to vineyards. Kiwi vines continued to leaf out and elongate shoots, and flower clusters were forming. Apple bloom continued while pear trees were leafing out. Pomegranate trees bloomed and developed fruit. Blueberry harvest and olive bloom began. Strawberry harvest progressed. Almond growers were fertilizing and irrigating orchards. Nuts continued to size on almond trees. Catkins continued to develop on walnut trees as bloom began. Early walnut varieties were developing nuts. Walnut growers began coddling moth sprays. Pistachio bloom was increasing as trees continued to leaf out.
Citrus tree bloom continued. Nets were placed over mandarin trees to prevent pollination from bees. Citrus trees were topped and skirted. Navel and Valencia orange harvests remained active. Mandarin and grapefruit harvests finished.
The United States all orange forecast for the 2013-2014 season is 7.21 million tons, up slightly from the previous forecast, but down 13 percent from the 2012-2013 final utilization. The Florida all orange forecast, at 110 million boxes, is up slightly from the previous forecast, but down 17 percent from last season’s final utilization. Early, midseason, and Navel varieties in Florida are forecast at 53.3 million boxes up 1 percent from the previous forecast, but down 21 percent from last season. The Florida Valencia orange forecast, at 57.0 million boxes, is unchanged from the previous forecast, but down 14 percent from last season’s final utilization. California and Texas production forecasts are carried forward from April. In the Florida citrus growing regions, high temperatures ranged from the lower to mid 80s. Widespread rainfall continued throughout April, keeping the citrus region drought-free and well supplied with water. The rainfall over the past several weeks has been beneficial. Some of the healthier and well-cared-for trees showed lots of new growth. Trees heavily affected by greening were thinning out or dying. Next season’s crop was progressing well with reports of marble-sized or larger oranges. Hedging and topping was complete in most areas. Growers and caretakers were applying nutritional and post bloom sprays as well as fertilizing, irrigating, and in some cases, resetting new trees. Processing plants were primarily running only Valencia oranges until the end of the season. Several packinghouses have finished for the season with a few still taking small amounts of late oranges.
The subjective forecast for the 2014 California almond production is 1.95 billion pounds. This is 2.5 percent below last year’s production of 2.00 billion pounds. Yield is expected to average 2,270 pounds per acre, down 4.6 percent from the 2013 yield of 2,380 pounds per acre. Forecasted bearing acreage for 2014 is 860,000. The subjective production forecast is based on a telephone survey conducted from April 15 to April 29 from a sample of almond growers.
After the warmest winter on record for California, the almond bloom began in early February. The 2014 bloom was one of the earliest almond blooms in memory. Orchards required irrigation in the winter months due to the lack of precipitation, but rain early in the season offered some temporary relief. Pest and disease pressure has been lower than last year. Overall, the 2014 crop is developing faster than last year and harvest is expected to start early. Water is a concern for many growers this year.
View the Pacific Region Fruit & Nut Review (.pdf).