Late-winter rain, cold may significantly affect some California crops

A bloom time freeze in almonds and early stone fruit has growers on edge

Early spring in California can be a time of agricultural beauty as trees awaken from their winter slumber in an explosion of white and pink blossoms.

After enduring much of a dormant season without rain or significant chilling hours, the weather changed just in time for early stone fruit and almond pollination. The effect of freezing temperatures, followed by rain, won’t be known in almonds or early stone fruit for a few months, but chances are there will be some significant damage in places.

Even late-winter row crops like asparagus were affected by the freezing temperatures. Los Banos farmer Joe Del Bosque said he had significant losses in his early organic asparagus, which he classifies as a “high-value crop.”

Ian LeMay of the California Fresh Fruit Association says it’s too early to know the effects in stone fruit and almond companies like Blue Diamond must also wait  to assess the losses from freezing weather during bloom time. Not only did the cold temperatures kill developing nuts, but they kept bees from pollinating the blossoms.

TAGS: Weather
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