California Crop Report

WEATHER

An upper level high pressure ridge had developed over the California coast at the start of the week and grew stronger as the week progressed, bringing fair skies and dry conditions to the State. Cold weather systems passing well to the north and coast of California did set up a strong low level pressure gradient, which resulted in a fairly strong offshore flow, bringing very dry conditions to Southern California. This offshore flow also affected Northern California and brought an end to the persistent Central Valley fog. It also brought fairly warm conditions to the central coast region. The high pressure ridge remained in place until the weekend, when its axis began to shift slightly east, as a Pacific storm system began to approach the coast. Still, the weekend’s weather was the warmest for much of the State. No significant precipitation was recorded in the State this week.

FIELD CROPS

Work in the San Joaquin Valley continued with plowing, disking, planting, and spraying in fields. Rice fieldwork in the Sacramento Valley continued with the drainage of fields and incorporation of rice straw into the soil. Saturated lowlying areas have dried and affected crops were recovering. Dryland grain fields received adequate winter precipitation and established good stands. Forage mixes, as well as winter wheat, barley, and oats, continued to mature as temperatures warmed to spring levels. Grain fields in the Central Valley received their first irrigation of the season. Alfalfa field maintenance continued with established fields being treated for weeds, while new fields were planted and emerging for the upcoming season.

FRUIT CROPS

The navel orange, mandarin, lemon, pummelo, and grapefruit harvests continued in the San Joaquin Valley. The pace of harvest has quickened to limit fruit losses due to rind break down. Lemons and grapefruit were also picked in the desert region. Pruning, spraying, and planting in orchards and vineyards resumed as conditions improved. Peach and plum trees were budding and beginning to show color. Early blooming has started for some fruit trees.

NUT CROPS

Pruning, spraying, and tree removal in pistachios and walnut orchards was performed as field conditions allowed. Placement of bee colonies in almond orchards for pollination continued across the State. The almond bloom has begun and with more bloom expected soon, most farmers were getting ready for bloom spray. Meanwhile, the forecast was calling for rain around the critical spray period.

VEGETABLE CROPS

Kern County reported planting of spring vegetables. Tulare County reported mustard greens, cabbage and oriental cabbage being grown for farmers markets. In Fresno County, winter broccoli harvest continued, and harvest of beets, cabbage, turnips, daikon, green onions, herbs, the choys, chards, and kales were in full swing. Fall planted garlic and onion were growing well, while some onion farmers reported a two-week delay in planting new fields because of wet soil conditions. Asparagus and carrot seeds fields were planted. Spring lettuce was emerging and growing nicely. Merced County reported continued harvest of radicchio.

LIVESTOCK

Rangeland and pasture conditions continued to show improvement, though the lack of recent precipitation was slowing growth in drier soils. Supplemental feeding of livestock continued to decline. Cattle and sheep grazed on idle farmland, rangeland and semi-dormant alfalfa fields. Calving and lambing continued to wind down in some locations. Bees continued to be brought in to the State for overwintering. Some hives were placed in blueberries, plum and almond orchards for pollination.

*Information from the USDA Crop Report distributed February 14, 2011.