Despite weather concerns earlier in the year and a later than typical harvest, this turned out to be a better season than expected for Fiddyment Farms. The family-owned integrated operation based in Roseville, Calif., grows 630 acres of Kern County, north of Bakersfield, Calif.
“In the spring, the weather was irregular and the summer was pretty cool,” says Thom Dille, the farm’s general manager. “However, we ended up with the second largest crop in the past eight years. It was a wonderful year.
“Everyone’s crop seemed to come on at the same time,” he says. “So it was a little difficult for processors early in the harvest. They got hammered with a lot of loads until they were able to clear the backlog.”
The weather also caused the farms’ nuts to vary in maturity. This forced a two-shake harvest. Crews began the first shake during the third week of September. They went back in on Oct. 7 to shake the trees again to get the remaining nuts.
This was an on-year for the state’s pistachio orchards. Even then, production exceeded expectations. Dille reports yields as high as 4,800 pounds per acre. “That’s pretty darn good and way above average for us,” he says.
The less-than-ideal spring weather impaired pollination resulting in more blanks than normal. And, nut size, 21/25 for the most part, was on the low side for the orchards. Overall, though, the crop was healthy,” Dille notes. “Fortunately, we didn’t have the problems with navel orangeworm that were prevalent in other areas,” he says. “We applied three sprays which kept them under control.”
In his September/October pistachio newsletter, Bob Beede, University of California Cooperative Extension farm advisor for Kings County, reported several large operations sprayed six times for navel orangeworm, and that was before making another ground treatment during the last week in August, just before they began shaking trees. The situation reflected a big overwintering population of the insect and heavy migration of the pest from harvested almonds to the pistachio fields.