California Crop Weather update


At the start of the week (May 4), high pressure aloft was beginning to rebuild over California in the wake of a frontal system which brought precipitation to the northern portions of the state, according to the Sacramento, Calif. field office of the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).

Residual showers persisted across the north, while Southern California was dry and mild. High pressure began to rebuild over the state, and a strong offshore flow developed over Southern California, resulting in ideal wildfire conditions along the Santa Barbara region. The hot and dry conditions in that region persisted through May 8.

Northern California enjoyed a fairly benign weather pattern. Another weak frontal system passed through the area and resulted in mild temperatures but little, if any precipitation.

By the weekend, dry conditions in Southern California began to improve as an onshore flow developed and brought higher humidity to the Southland. Across the Central Valley, weekend temperatures warmed to above normal levels as high pressure aloft strengthened over that region.

Field crops

In the Sacramento Valley, recent rains stopped ground work for a few days but preparations had resumed. Weather permitting; rice preparation and planting were in full swing. Herbicide treatments were applied. Geese have been a problem in some early planted fields with a few fields reseeded as a result. Winds were affecting rice stands and water placement.

Alfalfa was being cut. Sunflower and dry bean planting continued with corn, sunflower, and safflower emerging.

Some sugar beet armyworms were observed in San Joaquin Valley (SJV) cotton fields. Overall the cotton crop was off to a good start. Warm weather prompted fast emergence of planted fields. Few mite or thrip insect problems were reported.

Oats were cut and baled. Wheat and other small grains were cut for silage. Non-irrigated grain fields were affected by lack of moisture early in the year with stunted growth and poor seed head development reported in some areas. Poorly developed fields were chopped, cut for hay, or grazed by livestock.

Lima and freezer bean planting preparations were underway. Some rain damage to alfalfa that was cut and lying in fields occurred. Seed alfalfa fields were mowed or treated to produce a more compact plant for uniform seed production. Temperatures in the low 100s were reported in the Imperial Valley. Growers tended to alfalfa and sudan fields. Water availability remained a concern.

The sugar beet harvest was underway and expected to continue for the next 90 days.

Fruit crops

Significant rainfall made irrigation unnecessary in vineyards along the North Coast. In addition, shoot growth progressed favorably setting up good conditions for grape bloom in the region. Vineyards were treated with sulfur. Hand crews in the SJV worked to make sure developing grapes received good sunlight penetration and airflow.

Weed control, fertilizing, and fruit thinning continued in prune, peach, plum, and apricot orchards throughout the state. Strawberry and early Brooks cherry harvests continued. Blackberry vines continued to develop.

Olive trees in the SJV continued to bloom. Figs were sizing well. Pomegranate fruit began to set. Kiwi bloom began in the Sacramento Valley.

Navel orange harvest was wrapping up. Valencia orange harvest increased. Murcott tangerine and Minneola tangelo harvests finished. Lemon and grapefruit harvests continued.

Nut crops

Blight treatments, weed flaming, and irrigation continued in walnut orchards. Almond and pistachio nuts set on trees. Fertilization continued in nut orchards.

Vegetable crops

Processing tomatoes were planted throughout the state. Maintenance activities and ground preparation progressed in Sutter County and the harvests of vegetables for farmers’ markets continued. Treatments for thrips and aphids were also applied to onions.

In Fresno County, organic garlic was irrigated and sprayed for garlic rust. Onions were sprayed with a second application for downy mildew. Carrots looked good and were fertilized, cultivated, and sprayed with herbicide.

The spring lettuce harvest in Fresno was wrapping up, while harvests continued for asparagus, bok choy, broccoli, collard and mustard greens, gailon, garlic, herbs, leaf lettuce, red onions, snap and snow peas, and zucchini.

The planting of summer vegetables including carrots, eggplant, green beans, fresh market tomatoes, and squash was ongoing. Sweet corn, both white and yellow, continued to be planted. Early-planted vegetables were doing well due to excellent weather.

Some cantaloupe and honeydew fields had emerging plants. Growers prepared fields intended for future planting and continuous harvest later in the season. Watermelon beds were prepared and fumigated for transplants.

Carrots were harvested and planted in Kern County; lettuce crops were also harvested. Harvests progressed for asparagus and spring radicchio in Merced County.

Squash quality remained good; cucumbers continued to grow well in Tulare County, where peppers were also being planted.

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