The following is the latest California crop weather update from the National Agricultural Statistics Service’s Sacramento office released on Dec. 8, 2008.

At the start of the week, a high pressure ridge lay over California. This, combined with a light offshore flow at the surface, resulted in unusually warm temperatures in southern California, where some locations reported high temperatures in the 90s.

It was not as warm in Northern California, where cool air trapped under an inversion led to widespread fog in the early morning hours. At the start of the week, this fog was light and burned off quickly, allowing temperatures to warm slightly above normal levels.

As the week progressed, though, the fog grew denser and more persistent. In some areas of the San Joaquin and southern Sacramento Valleys, it would not burn off at all, resulting in very cool daytime temperatures.

By the end of the week, a low pressure trough moved through Southern California, bringing scattered showers to that part of the state. This system had little effect on Northern California, where widespread fog and low clouds persisted.

Field crops

Cutting, windrowing, raking, and baling for alfalfa hay was complete. New alfalfa fields continued to be planted. Cotton defoliation and harvest activities were winding down. Sudan hay and sorghum harvests were essentially complete. Harvest of corn for silage was complete in many counties. Rice growers continued to reshape berms and level paddies.

Fruit crops

Grape growers continued to prune, irrigate, cultivate, and remove old vineyards. Limited volumes of table grapes were being harvested.

Pomegranate harvest ended in Fresno County. Post-harvest activities such as pruning and irrigation were underway in stone-fruit orchards. A few persimmons remained to be picked and kiwifruit season was wrapping up. Jujubes were still being picked.

Fall strawberries were being sold and new blueberry bushes were being planted. Raspberry nursery stock harvest had begun.

Navel oranges were harvested but picking was slow in some areas due to moist weather. Growers were still waiting to make gains on color. Thrips were being monitored. Lemons, pummelos and mandarins were also being harvested. Olives were still being picked.

Nut crops

Almond and walnut pruning remained underway. Weed spraying was winding down. Some pre-plant fumigation was underway for new nut orchards in Merced County.

Vegetable crops

Warm temperatures encouraged significant growth of broccoli, cauliflower, and lettuce. However, as temperatures dropped in some areas, winter vegetables began to flourish.

The radicchio harvest continued. Fresh onion harvest was halfway finished and exhibited a lower-than-expected yield, but spinach showed strong potential. Carrots, cauliflower, and fall broccoli also continued their harvests.

Lemongrass fields were covered and groundwork continued as fields were irrigated, weeded, fertilized, and treated to control pests.