The latest California crop weather update from the National Agricultural Statistics Service’s Sacramento, Calif., field office:
Unseasonably hot temperatures started early in the week as a strong ridge of high pressure that evolved over the eastern Pacific slowly moved across the region. Dry weather persisted throughout the week with clear skies and warm temperatures ranging from the mid 90s to a few degrees above 100 in the valleys.
Gusty and dry conditions provided ideal elements to set off a few wild fires over the northern mountains and Southern California region. A few red flag warnings were issued due to the high potential for fires in those regions.
Clear skies during the night provided good radiated cooling, and therefore overnight lows remained relatively cool. Low temperatures allowed living organisms to cool down and release the heat stress from the diurnal heating.
The coast and higher elevations remained far better places to work in agriculture as temperatures did not reach as high as those in the valley. The week ended with record to near record high temperatures in the valley.
As the new week starts, cooler temperatures are expected with slight chances of precipitation over the mountains due to a low pressure system from the Gulf of Alaska region.
• Field crops
Rice harvest continued with reported yields higher than last year. Harvest has slowed for some growers waiting for lower moisture content.
Cotton fields were defoliated in preparation for harvest. Bolls were maturing nicely as a result of good growing conditions.
Corn silage harvest was over half complete in some areas of the San Joaquin Valley (SJV) while areas farther north have yet to start.
Winter wheat was being planted in Fresno County. Sunflower seed harvest continued. Some land preparation for winter crops took place. Irrigation started for sugar beets planted in the past two weeks. Sudan hay and small grain harvest continued. Alfalfa continued to be cut and baled.
• Fruit crops
Fig, raisin grape, table grape, and wine grape harvests, plus Granny Smith, Fuji, and Braeburn apple harvests continued primarily in the SJV. Sauvignon Blanc wine grape harvest was completed along the Central and North Coasts, as Pinot Noir and Chardonnay varieties continued to be picked. Recent hot temperatures have accelerated wine grape maturation.
The peach, plum, and nectarine harvests were near completion, and the Barlett pear harvest was completed. Some strawberries were picked in Southern California fields though extensive lygus bug infestations were reported. The pomegranates harvest continued with Foothill and Early Wonderful varieties being picked.
The SJV Valencia orange harvest continued to wind down. Navel oranges for the upcoming season continued to develop in size as growers prepared to apply Gibberellin treatments.
Satsuma mandarins were developing well and harvest is expected to begin soon. The lemon harvest neared completion along the coastal region as harvesting began in the desert region.
Normal spraying and maintenance continued in orchards and vineyards which included the initial applications of fall fertilizer for fruit trees.
• Nut crops
The almond harvest continued at a slower pace in the Central Valley. Hulling and stockpile fumigations continued for the almond crop as the late-variety harvest continued to wind down. The walnut and pistachio harvests picked up in the Central Valley. No issues have been reported with either nut crop thus far.
• Vegetable crops
Sweet corn, squash, peppers, melons, and tomatoes continued to be harvested in Tulare County.
In Fresno County, the harvest of processing tomatoes was about complete, and carrots were fertilized, cultivated, and irrigated. Melons, tomatoes, and sweet corn were harvested in Stanislaus County.
In Merced County, harvests continued for basil, fresh market and processing tomatoes, cantaloupe, and watermelon. Worm sprays were applied to tomato fields. Radicchio and winter broccoli planting continued.
Lettuce, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, celery, cilantro, and spinach were in various stages of development in Santa Barbara and San Louis Obispo counties.