“Beekeepers have been hurrying to get bees out. More almond orchards are in production now than in the last several years. Since beekeepers can’t deliver all the bees right before bloom, they’ve started earlier.
“We have received a lot of sunshine in the previous few days. Even though temperatures are still colder, the bees are becoming more active.
“Growers are beginning to line up bloom sprays, but we will hold off on spraying unless there is a threat of rain in the forecast. If it doesn’t rain, we delay applications until the trees are in full bloom.
“If we don’t end up getting rain, then we can eliminate an application. We really don’t get amped up for bloom sprays unless the predicted weather favor bloom disease.
“Growers finished mummy shaking by January 20 and completed dormant sprays where they were needed. Mummy counts have been lower than they were in the last two years.
“That rain in early December, combined with fog this last month, created better conditions for growers to complete mummy shaking. Drier conditions last year, late rain and less fog delayed the winter sanitation effectiveness last season.”
Franz Niederholzer, UC Farm Advisor Colusa, Sutter and Yuba Counties
“We’ve seen little change in the bloom progress over the last week. The Sonora variety is just starting to show signs of bloom. Buds are finally starting to stretch, but little to no white is showing and you have to hunt for a few beginning blossoms.
“The colder weather this last week seems to be keeping buds at a steady pace and not pushing too fast. The weather has not been consistent with warm or cold temperatures. The air will dry out and then it will warm back up, with neither condition staying in place for a long stretch.
“We have had night lows in the 30s to mid-40s and highs in the mid-50s to mid-60s during the days.
“The forecast appears to continue in the same pattern. With this roller coaster weather, there hasn’t been anything to light the fuse and push fast bloom.
“I think we still have about a week until we see more blooms and we will likely be after the February 14 for Nonpareil bloom. It is shaping up to be an earlier bloom than last year. Growers are lining up bloom sprays and waiting for the timing to fall into place.
“Beekeepers are continuing to deliver bees. They have to feed their bees due to a lack of significant cover crops or blooms. Many cover crops were planted late last fall and aren’t maturing fast enough to sustain the bees right now.”
Aaron Beene PCA, Simplot Grower Solutions, Merced
“Buds have been swelling in the last couple of weeks and are bulking up. A few early varieties or stressed trees have a small number of flowers.
“In the middle to end of next week, we will start seeing more bloom, which is right on track. In the last few years, bacterial blast around bloom reduced the crop load. This bloom looks to be more uniform than in previous years.
“Most growers have preemergent herbicides down. Bacterial blast was devastating in the last few years, especially in the Independence variety.
“We applied an early copper-oil dormant spray and came back with a delayed light copper dormant spray before pink bud, hoping to suppress those early blooms that are more susceptible to infection.
“Next week, we will prepare for bloom sprays, if necessary. If the weather remains sunny and in the mid-60s for highs, we’ll delay treatments. Ideally, we apply the bloom spray at 30% to40% bloom or 50% to 70% if rain isn’t in the forecast. We won’t trigger an application unless the forecast calls for a high chance of rain or an extended rainy period.
“We received an early rain around the end of December, followed by a period of foggy days, which helping moisture levels so we could complete winter shaking. We lined up for excellent winter sanitation conditions, with 80% to 90% of growers in better circumstances than in recent years.
“Early cold snaps helped to lessen leaffooted plant bug signs and we have been fortunate not to see early sightings.
“Walnuts and pistachios growers have completed pruning and are applying preemergent herbicides. With the lack of moisture and an increase in sunny days, a minority of growers are starting to irrigate. If no rain persists, growers will need to ensure deep soil moisture levels before trees begin pushing push buds.