Weather

A low-pressure trough and its associated cold front were moving east, out of Central California at the start of the week. Temperatures were generally cooler than normal in the wake of this system, but no significant precipitation fell on Monday. During the rest of the week, California’s weather was subject to the effects of several weak cold fronts moving across the state fairly quickly. The most significant system consisted of a low-pressure system which came ashore Wednesday night, over the south-central California coast near San Luis Obispo County. This front managed to generate some light showers across the length of the state. Behind that system, weak high pressure rebounded, allowing temperatures to finally climb to normal levels. A final cold front came in on Saturday and cooled temperatures back to below normal levels.

Field crops

Winter forage fields continued to be cut for silage in Merced and Tulare counties. The first cutting of alfalfa continued and alfalfa weevil spraying was complete. In Fresno County alfalfa growers began their summer-long cycle of cutting, windrowing, raking and baling for the production of alfalfa hay. Early planted corn and cotton started to germinate and emerge. In Stanislaus County land preparation was being done for upcoming rice planting; oats were being harvested. Mustard seed was in full bloom. Sugar beet fields continued to grow well and were being fertilized, irrigated, cultivated and treated to control weeds and diseases. Safflower fields were in various stages of growth. High prices for crops and fuel continued to cause consternation about the variety and volume of crops to be planted. High winds in the Imperial Valley the past two weeks caused irrigation schedules on some wheat fields to fall behind and hot spots have shown on some of the heavier soils. Early wheat started to fill and flag leaf. In Kern County potato crops were growing well.

Fruit crops

Fruit growers increased irrigation practices due to the continued dry spring. Grape growers were tying vines and applying treatments for insects and weeds. Grape vines continued to leaf out. Stone-fruit growers were also treating their vineyards for weeds and insects. Apple, cherry, pear, pomegranate and prune trees were still blooming in some areas. New orchards were still being planted. Suckering and thinning of early nectarines began in Tulare County. Spring strawberries and blueberries were blooming. New blueberry bush plantings continued. Some citrus growers were treating their groves for fungus, insects and weeds. Foliar nutrients were also being applied. The harvests of oranges, lemons, mandarins, minneolas and pummelos were ongoing. Valencia harvest was picking up speed. Navel harvest was estimated at 65 percent complete in Tulare County. Field juicing of Navels was underway for fruit not suitable for the fresh market. Olive trees were being trimmed.

Nut crops

Bloom continued in walnut and pistachio groves. More trees were leafing out. Male pistachio trees were putting on pollen sacks in Kern County. Walnuts were sprayed for blight in some areas. Almonds were growing well in the warm, dry conditions with nutlets developing rapidly. Little evidence of fungal disease was seen in almond groves. Clean-up from damaging January winds that blew over trees was ongoing.

Vegetable crops

Spring harvest of broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, spinach and Romaine lettuce crops continued. Asparagus and endive harvest continued. Herbicides were applied to onion and garlic fields with ongoing cultivation and irrigation. High winds caused some Imperial Valley melon vines to be damaged and pollination was impeded due to lack of bee activity. Emerged sweet corn was growing well. Transplanting of bell peppers and tomatoes for the fresh and processing markets was nearly complete. Farmers’ market vegetables such as amaranth, basil, bok choy, beets, head and napa cabbage, cilantro, choy sum, daikon, dandelion, dill, fennel, head and leaf lettuce, leeks, lemon grass, mint, mustard and collard greens, kale, ong choy, parsley, green onions, radishes, rutabagas, tatsoi, tong ho, yam leaf, yams, and yu choy continued to be harvested. Vegetable fields were being weeded, irrigated, fertilized, and treated to control weeds, insects, and mildew. In Tulare County, early planted zucchini continued to bloom and set fruit; picking has started on a limited volume. Cooler weather toward the week’s end slowed down growth and sizing of squash fruits. Planting of cucumbers was steady as was staking and first stringing. Planting of both indoor and outdoor varieties of peppers, gourds, string beans, bitter melons, assorted eggplants, tomatoes and shinqua was in full swing. In Kern County, carrots, lettuce, onion and tomato crops were growing well. Peppers have been planted.