California Crop Weather: late-winter rains a blessing

California Crop Weather: late-winter rains a blessing

Recent late winter storms have helped support small grain growth and recharge soil moisture supplies.  Grapevine pruning was finished. More grape varieties started to bud. Almond bloom was coming to an end while leaves came out and nuts began to form.  

The California Crop Weather report from the National Agricultural Statistics Service Field Office in Sacramento, Calif., released March 26, 2012.


A high pressure ridge moved across California at the start of the week of March 18; pushing clouds and showers out of the area and bringing dry and mild conditions to most of California.

A low pressure trough then developed off the West Coast. A series of weak weather disturbances brushed northern California in the southwest flow which resulted from the trough’s position.  These weak storms brought some light to moderate precipitation to the North Coast, northern mountains, to the northern Sierra, and northern interior valley areas.

A low pressure center developed in the offshore trough later in the week producing a more organized frontal system which pushed ashore late in the week. The cold front was oriented almost South to North and moved eastward very gradually. 

It brought the most abundant rainfall of the week even to Southern California with some interior locations getting over an inch of rain in a 24-hour period.

Field crops

Recent late winter storms have helped support small grain growth and recharge soil moisture supplies. Wheat, rye, and oats matured and were in fair-to-excellent condition.

Many areas had to halt planting preparations due to widespread storm events. Planting resumed in drier areas of the state. 

Alfalfafields greened well following pest and weed control applications.

Rains hindered some rice paddy draining, but ground preparation, fertilization, and draining continued as conditions permitted.

Fruit crops

Plums, peaches, apricots, nectarines, andcherries bloomed. Early varieties began to leaf out. Bees were moved into cherry orchards. Prunes approached full bloom. Damage to tree fruit orchards from recent storms is still unknown. 

The pruning of grape and kiwi vineyards was finished. Vineyard spraying, irrigating, fertilizing, grafting, and repair work continued. More grape varieties started to bud.

Pomegranateorchards were pruned. Blueberries bushes bloomed as bees pollinated. Strawberry growers prepared fields for spring production.

Navel oranges,tangerines, tangelos,andlemons were harvested. The Cara Cara orange harvest was wrapping up. The late harvests of Navel and Valencia oranges were expected soon. Seedless tangerine groves were netted in preparation of the coming bloom. 

Nut crops

Almondbloom was coming to an end while leaves were coming out and nuts began to form. Bees were pulled from almond orchards. Walnuts were just beginning to leaf out.  Pistachios were breaking bud.

Vegetable crops

In Tulare County, ground preparation continued in vegetable fields as certified producers planted tomatoes using heat caps. Italian squash and cucumber seedlings were planted and tented under plastic. 

In Fresno County, processing tomato transplants were planted at a rapid pace. Carrot planting continued and onions were fertilized.

Merced County reported fresh market tomato planting and asparagus harvest. 

In Stanislaus County, broccoli, asparagus, and spinach were harvested.

San Joaquin County reported asparagus harvest. In Sutter County, field preparation continued as onions and carrots flowered.  

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