California crop weather report from NASS

The following is the March 30 Crop Weather Report from the Sacramento, Calif., field office of the National Agricultural Statistics Service.

• Weather

At the beginning of the week, a vigorous cold front was exiting California to the east. Residual showers lingered over the Sierra Nevada range and along the northwest coastal region.

By Tuesday, high pressure aloft brought clearing skies while a surface high pressure system settled over the Great Basin. This pattern created an offshore wind across most of California, especially in the southern part of the state.

The high pressure aloft strengthened during the week resulting in very warm temperatures. Overnight low temperatures in the clear, dry atmosphere were below seasonal normal.

The warm and dry conditions persisted through Saturday. On Sunday, a dry cold front brought gusty northwest winds and cooler temperatures to the Golden State, but no precipitation.

• Field crops

Weed spraying in wheat, oat, and sorghum grain fields was ongoing across the state. Winds over the weekend caused lodging in grain fields in the central San Joaquin Valley (SJV) which will make harvesting difficult. Irrigation will be needed if no rain is forecast.

Alfalfa fields were chopped for feed in the SJV. Corn fields were planted in Merced. Safflower and cotton were emerging in Sutter County.

Wheat crops were ahead of the fertilizing schedule in Imperial County. Potatoes continued to be harvested.

• Fruit crops

Grapes leafed out in the Central Valley while the fertilization and irrigation of vineyards began throughout the state.

Peach, prune, nectarine, apricot, and cherry bloom continued. Orchard maintenance was ongoing for new plantings, and methyl bromide applications continued for orchard tree replacements.

The lack of significant rainfall in the SJV began irrigation practices for most tree crops. Some scattered freeze damage was reported to apricots in the SJV. Strawberry and blueberry plants were in bloom in the SJV while site preparation continued in the Sacramento Valley. Kiwi harvest was in full swing.

Cold weather at the beginning of the week forced SJV growers to use wind machines and irrigation to keep temperatures elevated.

Harvesting continued for Navel and Valencia oranges, plus in mandarin, minneola, lemon, and pummelo groves.

• Nut crops

Pollen sacks continued to develop on male pistachio trees. Fungicides were applied to walnuts.

Almond bloom was mostly complete. Almonds began developing on tree branches. Early mite damage to almonds was reported in SJV areas where last year’s water restrictions increased tree susceptibility to water stress. Freeze damage to almonds from early March was not yet quantified.

• Vegetable crops

The asparagus harvest was in full swing along the Central Coast and in the lower SJV. Monterey County also harvested leaf lettuce and baby broccoli.

Fresh market and processing tomatoes were planted in Merced County while tomato beds were prepared in San Joaquin. Stanislaus County harvested broccoli and spinach.

Fresno County lost some tomatoes to frost. Carrots, onions, and garlic were cultivated, irrigated, and treated with herbicide. Tomatoes and melons were planted in Kern County and carrots were harvested.

Snow peas in Tulare County were picked and outdoor plantings of squash and cucumber germinated under hot caps as the first blooms appeared in early fields.

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