Vern Crawford, PCA, Wilbur-Ellis Co., Shafter: "This is one of those years for the record book. We've just gone through another series of heavy rains. I've lived here all my life and don't recall this kind of weather pattern so consistently in this time of the year. If the weatherman calls for a 30% chance of rain, we'll get anywhere from 7 tenths to an inch or more. People who didn't get another shot of fungicide out last week (week of 3/21) have been scrambling this week to put on some protection. Everybody is trying to come up with materials or approach that will give them shot hole protection, finalize any brown rot out there and also take care of jacket rot, alternaria and scab. And with all this rain, we've got orchards too wet to spray by ground, so treatments will have to go on by air.
"Some varieties that were pollinating during the cold weather, like the Nonpareils, look disappointing. But some of the earlier varieties appear to have pollinated pretty good. And that group of varieties following the Nonpareils had beautiful weather for 10 to 14 days. They look wonderful now. We did have areas where hail knocked off some forming nuts, but it's way too early to figure out what our cumulative losses will be from all the factors we've been dealing with."
Jim Hall, PCA, Hall Agronomics, Fresno: "We've got 3 fungicide sprays on most everything and are gearing up to do number 3 on hardshells, provided the weather lets us. We've probably gotten close to 2 inches of rain out west in the last couple of weeks. Last weekend (3/19-20) at my house we got over 2 inches. We're doing some fertilizing. We were looking at first irrigation before all this rain started. The weatherman is calling for more rain tomorrow (3/26). By next week, though, the forecast says things will dry out, so maybe we'll move into a more normal pattern.
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"We picked up some mite in our 2-year trees and were gearing up to treat before the rain started. The mites are still there. We'll evaluate them again next week. They usually don't like the rain and cool temperatures, so we'll see if they make it through. Bloom is pretty much done except for a little still in the hardshells."
Franz Niederholzer, UC Farm Advisor, Sutter/Yuba Counties: "We got a lot of rain and a lot of wind. I'm hearing that in the mature orchards that guys lost about 1% of their trees to the wind. That's a very preliminary estimate, I need to emphasize. Losing trees at this point creates 2 problems. The most obvious is that you lose that portion of your production. But beyond that, you've got to stop everything else and get those trees out of the way so they don't block tractor movement down the rows when it's time to spray. Overall, it's been too wet and rainy this week to find a treatment window. We've gotten one storm after another. The forecast at least calls for some clearing next week."
John Moore, PCA, Growers Crop Consulting, Bakersfield: "The wind created lots of firewood this week. Our most advanced nuts are now at 0.5-inch. Hardshells are at petal fall. New herbicides are looking good on fleabane. Most growers have 2 to 3 fungicide applications on now."