March 2021

At the end of February and most of March one of the great things about the San Joaquin Valley is to experience the bloom time for the various crops that are grown, almonds, stone fruit, citrus etc.  All the wide array of crops present different bloom timings and appearances.   Even grapevines have a “bloom” in May but most probably wouldn’t notice because the “flower” part is relatively small and pollination doesn’t require bees.   It sure is enjoyable to see the “snowball” bloom in the almonds where the trees are completely covered with flowers. However, some years the trees just don’t have many flowers and a lot of early leaves, a disappointing early sign for the upcoming harvest.

For those that grow most tree crops, it is first sign of the new season to come. Everyone hopes for some calm, warm afternoons for the bees to get out and pollinate the flowers during the approximately 2 ½ week period.   As flower petals slowly fall the green leaves start to emerge and in a few weeks one can assess what type of crop might develop.  It is a time of looking at the potential of the years harvest and one hopes it looks promising.   Although there is a long time until harvest, it gives a glimpse into what “could be” in the field.  This estimation of the crop is used to adjust the fertilizer and other inputs that are needed.  If it looks like a big crop is in the making, more fertilizer is needed to support the crop, if it looks small, one can cut back accordingly.  As more regulations are placed on the farmer regarding fertilizer use especially nitrogen, you are faced with adjusting to the plants needs throughout the growing season.  Only feed to the needs of the plant, not over, the experts will tell you.  Although this sounds very methodical and scientific, in the real world, how does one account for a midseason crop disaster from weather such as hail, frost, heat, pests and/or disease infestations.  All these things can significantly affect your crop.  Even soil types can play a large role in the crop that develops.  The predictions are all based on ideal conditions in a controlled environment, however the farmer has to deal with all the of the interactions of weather, pests, disease and miscellaneous other factors that ultimately determines what is actually harvested.  Most farmers will tell you they have been surprised many times as what came out of a particular field. It is never easy to get a crop to harvest, bloom is the just the beginning.  Hope everything is looking promising.

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