The following is the latest California Crop Weather report from the National Agricultural Statistics Service’s Sacramento, Calif., Field Office:
A series of weather systems swept across California the week of Dec. 7, providing a variety of unusual conditions. The first system, moving south from Canada, brought light to moderate amounts of precipitation mainly to Northern California and cold air. Temperatures across the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys fell to record levels. Morning lows in the Northern Sacramento Valley fell to the teens.
The cold air mass remained over the north through Thursday when a warmer Pacific storm swept through and brought widespread precipitation and warmer temperatures to California. Snowfall across the Sierra Nevada was impressive with over 2 feet falling at the higher elevations.
The bulk of the storm’s precipitation fell over Southern and Central California with the far northern portions of the state reporting smaller rainfall amounts.
On Sunday (Dec. 13) another storm surged across the north bringing more precipitation to that portion of California. In the South, a few showers lingered over San Diego County but conditions were dry elsewhere.
• Field crops
Wheat, oats, and barley were planted yet field work was slowed due to rain. The recent rain delivered much needed moisture to planted grain fields. Early planted seed continued to emerge.
Harvested fields were prepared for next year.
The cotton harvest was finished, and fields were shredded and disked. Ground preparation, weed treatments, and fertilization continued for next year’s crop.
The recent frost marked the end to this year’s alfalfa season for most growing regions.
• Fruit crops
Satsuma and Clementine mandarins, Navel oranges, and grapefruit were picked in the Central Valley as the table grape harvest was essentially completed. In citrus orchards along the coasts and in the Central Valley, helicopters and wind machines increased air circulation to combat freezing temperatures.
Growers also used orchard heaters and ran irrigation water to limit the drop in temperature. The extent of damage in both regions was assessed.
Lemon harvest continued normally in the desert region. Normal maintenance continued which was primarily orchard pruning.
• Nut crops
Post-harvest pruning and maintenance activities continued plus some herbicide applications.
• Vegetable crops
Near freezing temperatures in the early week left vegetable growers evaluating whether crops were damaged. Preliminary reports indicated that no major harm was done. Artichoke growers in Monterey were able to pack product after below freezing temperatures. Later in the week, vegetable growers welcomed the needed rainfall.
In Stanislaus County, the harvest of early-planted broccoli and cauliflower began. In Fresno County, lettuce was harvested. Fresh tomato beds were prepared. The carrot harvest was projected to begin in a week.
In Kern County, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and chard progressed well. In Merced County the radicchio harvest continued. Sweet potato fields received fumigations. Spinach, broccoli, and cabbage harvest continued in Tulare County. Preparation of planting beds for winter vegetables continued as weather permitted.