“I think that the weather has helped get a lot of mummies out of our trees, at least in places. About 3 weeks ago we had winds at 45 mph, which knocked down plenty of mummies. The forecast for this current system says we might see winds at up to 50 mph. I also have seen a lot of growers shaking, so there’s an emphasis on taking out mummies, at least in my area.
“Growers have commented about bee prices going up. If that’s any indication, there’s definitely not a glut of bees right now.”
Rick Foell, Field Manager, Capay Farms, Hamilton City
“We’re probably at 1% to 2% bloom. We have sprayed some of our early blocks, just wrapping one variety, Sonora.
“We’re not sure how long this current storm will last or when we could get in the orchards again, so we felt like we needed to do something with the early trees. With Sonora, brown rot would be the primary concern this time of the year. This happens to be a warm storm, so heat and moisture would promote brown rot.
“The rain has definitely started. From yesterday afternoon to right now (late morning, 2/2) it’s already rained 2 inches. Over a 4-day stretch, they predicted 2.5 inches, so in one day we’ve already received most of the forecast’s total.
“We were able to shake the majority of the orchards where mummies needed attention. With trees progressing toward bloom, we started poling but intended to pull back on that at about the time the rain began falling. The trees are far enough along that any poling now could knock off some blooms.
“How we approach the full spray will depend on how orchards progress through this storm. We’ll evaluate things on Monday and review the weather models.
“It’s supposed to drop into the mid-20s for lows during one period next week, with highs in the 50s. You’d hope that the trees would stop progressing during that period. But my experience indicates that the weather will slow them down but not completely stop buds.
“Things are tight enough in the buds now that we might see a flash bloom once the weather warms up. It certainly could be a condensed bloom. I hope that doesn’t happen but I’ve seen it in the past.
“Once the rain stops, it still could take 4 days before we can get equipment in the orchard without doing too much damage. That will put us on a tight schedule to make applications, but I do think we can finish that round of spraying sometime in the next 7 to 10 days.
“Our beekeeper estimated that we’d have 75% of our bees. We’re hearing about some issues where hives were in cold storage and maybe some aren’t in the best of shape.
“Our beekeeper anticipates an increase in bee theft this year. There’s already been a report of hives being stolen in an adjoining county. We’ve put extra security on some orchards that have more than one entrance.”
Dan Prentice, Prentice Ag Consulting, Bakersfield
“We’ve already had a little rain and it’s in the forecast over the next 4 to 5 days. So far, I haven’t seen any blooms. But buds are swelling pretty good, so it won’t be long until we do find them opening. It won’t surprise me to see some in the next few days (from 2/2).