The California Crop Weather report from the National Agricultural Statistics Service Field Office in Sacramento, Calif., released April 17, 2012.

Weather

A high pressure system brought dry conditions to most of California at the start of the week of April 9. Very dry conditions were reported across Southern California. 

A low pressure system in the Gulf of Alaska slowly edged toward the Northern California Coast. As it approached, it generated some showers across the far northern coastal region on Monday and Tuesday while the rest of the state remained dry with very mild temperatures. Eventually, the low pressure system moved closer and finally brought rain to most of the state by Wednesday.

On Thursday, most of the state was in between storm systems as the first system moved to the east and another low pressure system developed in the Gulf of Alaska. The new system moved ashore late Thursday and spread showers first across Northern California and then into Southern California by Friday. These storms also brought significant snowfall to the Sierra Nevada Mountains. 

Saturday included some residual shower activity across the state as the low pressure moved eastward. By Sunday, high pressure began to build along the West Coast and brought a dry and mild weather pattern to California.

Field crops

Recent rain showers have improved soil moisture supplies for dryland crops. Early planted grain fields grew well with wheat heading at nearly two-thirds complete and some cutting for oat hay underway. 

Wheat conditions continued to improve with recent precipitation as the crop was rated mostly good to excellent.

Seedbed preparations for corn and cotton were halted in some rain affected areas. The main activities included cultivation, herbicide applications, and reshaping seed beds. Some operators started planting. However, the majority of operators were waiting for warmer soil temperatures. 

Rice producers continued preparations for planting.

Fruit crops

The plum, peach, apricot, and nectarine blooms were complete in all but the latest varieties. Trees were almost fully leafed out and showing fruit. Thinning continued in apricots. 

Cherry bloom was nearly complete as bees were moved out of orchards. Prunes were past full bloom and leafed out in Sutter and Yuba Counties. 

Weed treatments and bloom sprays continued in stone fruit orchards. Recent hail storms in the San Joaquin Valley hit stone fruit orchards hard causing significant fruit damage.

Grapevines continued to leaf out while vineyards were pruned and sprayed. 

Pomegranates leafed out. Apples started bloom and leafed out. 

Strawberries were transplanted in Siskiyou County. The harvest of early blueberries began in Tulare County. Olive groves were pruned.

Orange and avocado trees were in bloom in early locations. Navel oranges, tangerines, tangelos, and lemons were harvested and packed for export. The harvest of late variety Navel oranges and early Valencia oranges picked up. 

Nut crops

The almond bloom was over as trees leafed out and nuts grew larger. Freeze damage was apparent in areas hit hard by the March cold spell.

Walnuts leafed out while late varieties were in bloom. Growers applied blight sprays.

Pistachios bloomed and leafed out. Walnuts, almonds, and pistachios were exported. 

Vegetable crops

Kern County reported carrot, melon, pepper, and processing tomato plantings. In Tulare County, squash, tomato, and pepper were planted.

Fresno County reported onion and garlic growing well while treated with herbicides for volunteer wheat. The harvests of asparagus, broccoli, and some head lettuce began.

Some heavy rains made for muddy conditions for the harvests of lettuce and broccoli. Processing tomatoes were planted from seed as well as transplanted. Bell pepper, carrot, cantaloupe, honeydew, and watermelon fields were prepared for planting.

Spring vegetables including beets, radishes, cabbages, turnips, daikon, green onions, spinach, herbs, mustard greens, choys, chards, and kales were harvested. Eggplant and squash were planted. 

In Merced County, fresh market and processing tomato plantings continued. Asparagus harvest continued. Some tomato fields were damaged by frost.

In Stanislaus County, broccoli and spinach were harvested. San Joaquin County reported asparagus harvest.