This is the final report of the 2014 almond crop year, covering the conditions and observations made between Monday, September 29 and Sunday, October 26, 2014. The next report will be posted on or about Monday, February 2, 2015 prior to the start of the 2015 bloom…….Mel Machado, Assistant Director of Member Relations.
Weather in the region transitioned into more Fall-like conditions during the period, while still providing ample opportunities for the completion of the 2014 harvest. Daily high temperatures varied widely during the period, with readings in the first half of the month ranging from the mid 80’s to upper 90’s, before dropping into the upper 60’s to lower 80’s in the later part of the month.
Rainfall briefly taunted the region’s growers at mid-month. However, no measurable rain was produced until the closing days of the period when a fast moving weather system brushed past the region, producing scattered showers that dropped just a few hundredths of an inch of rain.
The 2014 almond harvest in the Sacramento Valley has been completed, with only the last few late-harvesting Fritz and Monterey plantings in the central region remaining to be picked up. In the north, observers are reporting that while yield levels ran a bit lower than what growers were hoping for when compared to the 2013 crop, quality levels were generally quite good, in spite of reports of excessive amounts of Navel Orange Worm damage some growers endured.
Nonpareil growers throughout the central region have reported variable quality levels in the balance of their varieties, with damage caused predominately by Navel Orange Worm. Yield levels have also been variable when compared to the 2013 crop, while generally running stronger than the levels recorded in the Nonpareil.
Further south in the San Joaquin Valley, this year’s early maturity, combined with beneficial weather conditions provided for one of the most trouble-free almond harvests in memory. While the pace of the harvest was virtually unimpeded, it was not necessarily trouble free. Yields have run below last year’s levels, while quality levels have been mixed, due primarily to feeding by Navel Orange Worm. Some growers have opted to send shakers back into the orchards for a “second shake” in an attempt to remove nuts that failed to drop from the trees during the “regular harvest”. Taking advantage of the dry conditions, these growers are attempting to remove as many nuts as possible from trees. Given that complete removal of the nuts remaining in the trees is the best method of controlling Navel Orange Worm, the thought is to clean the trees with a second shake.
With the completion of harvest operations in the orchards, huller/sheller operators have turned their attention to the previously harvested product stored in their stockpile yards or along-side the orchards. Facility managers are reporting that the crop has been running quite quickly through the shellers and nearly all expect to complete shelling the crop prior to the end of November.
Throughout the region, almond growers have moved quickly into a post-harvest mindset. Smoothing the orchard floor after harvest, along with fertilization and gypsum applications, are among the first of the normal post-harvest tasks to be completed, with pruning and brush shredding following closely behind. At the same time, older orchards are also being removed and lands are being prepared for the planting of new orchards during the upcoming dormant season.
While the past month’s weather has brought some moisture to the region, the rainfall has not met the orchard’s needs. Irrigation districts ended their delivery season in the open days of the period. Growers with water available from private wells will continue to irrigate as long as required in order to provide adequate support for the developing flower buds needed for the 2015 bloom. The vast majority of the region’s orchards are still carrying heavy leaf cover and the mild to warm conditions have allowed the trees to continue to transpire water.
During the coming months, growers will complete pruning, shredding and orchard sanitation operations as they prepare for the 2015 bloom. Sanitation will be a focal point for many in light of the elevated damage many sustained this year from Navel Orange Worm. Reducing the number of mummy nuts that remain in the trees after harvest is the best way to reduce the potential for damage in the subsequent crop. However, this process is greatly aided by wet winters, something that all in the region are hoping for this year.
Return to our website on November 12th for the latest insights on the California almond market.