California: Wheat Benefits from Rains, Snowpack Builds – USDA

Crop Progress and Condition for the Week Ending January 24, 2016.


For most of the State last week, temperatures averaged 5 to 9 degrees above normal, except in the south where temperatures dipped 2 to 4 degrees below normal. Lows were in the 10s to 30s in the mountains, 30s to 40s in the valley and desert, and 40s to 50s along the coast. Highs in the mountains ranged from the 30s to 50s, 50s to 60s along the coast and the valley, and 60s to 70s in the desert.

Early in the week, most locations in the State received rainfall, except scattered locations in the desert. Up to 6 inches of rain fell in the mountains between Eureka and Redding. Most areas from Fresno southward received around half an inch to one inch of rain. Rainfall amounts were generally lighter as the moisture source changed from the tropical Pacific to the northern Pacific by the end of the week.

In the Sierra foothills, much of the precipitation fell as snow. Ample snowfall continued in the mountains, with 2 to 3 feet falling in some locations. Snowpacks remain well established in the Sierras, northern coast ranges, and across the mountains of the northern tier. Snowpack cycling was in effect as daytime highs reached above freezing and overnight lows dropped below freezing with new snowfall reported multiple times. This allowed for a recharge of rivers and lakes across the area as drought recovery continued.


In Tulare County, winter grains and field crops benefited from more rain. The overall growth of grain and field crops continued to do well. In Riverside County, potatoes were harvested. In Fresno County, weather was interfering with some wheat fertilizer programs.


Postharvest pruning and orchard replanting continued in deciduous tree fruit orchards, weather permitting. In Yuba County, peach and prune orchard pruning was going strong. Dormant applications were made where insects and disease were causing problems. Pomegranates and kiwifruit were picked and shipped. Harvest was ongoing for citrus including Navel, Cara Cara, mandarin, and blood oranges.

The grapefruit, pumelo, lemon, and tangelo harvests continued. Muddy groves were impeding the applications of needed fungicidal treatments. In Tulare County, exports of citrus fruit halted because of heavy rainfall. Blueberry bushes were still planted, when weather permitted.


Post-harvest cultural maintenance continued when the soil dried out enough to get in the orchards. Almond, walnut, and pistachio orchards were pruned, shredded, and cleaned. Growers applied herbicides and dormant sprays. Almonds, pistachios, and shelled and in-shell walnuts were exported.


The rainy weather made harvest difficult and interfered with preparations for late winter and spring plantings. Fieldwork was halted due to wet conditions. In Tulare County, some winter vegetables were well established. In Fresno County, water was pumped off onion fields. The last processing tomato beds preparation was completed. Soil was sampled for spring carrots. Strawberry fields were reported to show ideal growth.


In Tulare County, recent rains continued to benefit the lower elevation pasture growth, reducing the need for supplemental feed. Sheep continued to graze in alfalfa fields. Bees were shipped and placed in orchards. Rangeland conditions were good, but some dairies were struggling with muddy conditions.

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