April 15, 2018 - By Daniel Bays, Stanislaus County diversified grower - So far, this spring has had its share of ups and downs. This just reaffirms that no two years are the same.
Bloom in the almonds came early. We had great weather for the bees for the most part and a very long bloom.
The apricots bloomed late and flowered throughout March, which is the latest we have ever seen it. There were dime-sized apricots and flowers on the same tree, and everything in between. It will be interesting to see when harvest will be and how uniform the fruit will be.
We have been fortunate so far and have not had much of an impact from the cold weather at the beginning of March, though there was significant damage to the almond crop in neighboring areas.
The dry winter has not helped growers who planted winter crops such as wheat. Few fields were planted this winter due to lower feed prices. The fields that are doing well had to be irrigated, which adds the cost of labor and water and cuts into what little profitability there may have been.
Tomato transplanting has begun in western Stanislaus County. The weather has been cooperating so far, but rain and cool temperatures could change that quickly.
Reliable surface water will again be a challenge for our area in 2018, though the reservoirs are in better shape than 2015 and 2016. Labor is a concern for most growers going into planting season, as well as harvest, and many growers are struggling to find row crops that will be profitable to grow with increased production costs from water, labor and regulation. Permanent crops such as walnuts and almonds have been a savior for many growers around here.
Reprinted with permission: California Farm Bureau Federation