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From the Fields® - July 12, 2017

By Joe Colace, Imperial County diversified grower

We all know how hot we got. We actually finished up the melon harvest on July 3, and for the last 10 days there was a lot of stress because of the high-pressure system that had built up in the western United States. In the Imperial Valley, we had experienced two days that were pushing 120 degrees. For the most part, the crop was successful. The mild May did promote good crops for both the sweet corn and all the melons.

We are glad we are done here in the valley and now we have moved up into the San Joaquin Valley, where we are shipping both sweet corn and melons.

We have the citrus packing facility in Calipatria and we are targeting to begin our lemon harvest in mid-August. The lemons were progressing very nicely until that heat spell, which caused the trees to shut down for a while. But we are back on target for a mid-August start, which is on the early side for us. Typically, the lemon harvest in District 3, which is the low desert, starts in early September.

The water recovery through the winter has been a beneficial aspect for all of the agricultural sectors here in California and Arizona. So that really puts a positive light on things at this time for the agricultural community.

By Nicholas Miller, Santa Barbara County winegrape grower

So far this year, we've had great growing conditions at our Paso Robles Highland District Vineyard, French Camp Vineyards. The vines have responded well from the winter rains (although we would have liked more) and now they are experiencing even bud break with full, healthy canopies.

The overall disease pressure has been low this year across all varietals grown at the vineyard as well. The beginning of the growing season brought cool weather and now summer is in full swing with warm temperatures.

This means veraison is right around the corner for us, so we should expect to see fruit coming off the vine by the second week of August.

By Jake Samuel, San Joaquin County diversified grower

I grow cherries and walnuts in San Joaquin County. Prior to July 4, most of the husk fly flights began and applications were applied on the early-variety walnuts. Since the 4th, we have worked towards the second flight of codling moth applications for Chandlers beginning on the second and third week of July.

Due to the immense cycles of heat waves last month and this month, some growers are applying Surround for sun block on the walnuts. Crop set seems to be good, and the trees have finished their June drop. Harvest field prep is beginning too, with dead wood removal and ground prep taking place if needed.

Cherry trees are recuperating after a hefty cherry harvest. Some of our fields have already had the first postharvest application for leaf hopper and preventive mite application. Other orchards are already showing signs of mite pressure and agricultural chemicals have been applied.

We have also started our summer pruning, mainly topping and hedging. I see that other growers have been working on minor summer pruning. We are also being cognizant of bacteria blast and other cankers, and looking at removal of infected wood. Fertilizing is also being incorporated into our summer irrigation schedules. Small, micro-amounts seem to be the best recipe for next year's crop.

Our custom shakers are being prepped and our almond customers are beginning hull split sprays and looking at the middle August for first shaking.

By Johnnie White, Napa County winegrape grower

We are starting to see veraison, which is when the grapes turn color, in all of the different varieties. I am starting to see it happen, and it is because of the location and what kind of soil the grapes are in. Everything is starting to get color except for the later-ripening mountain fruit. We won't harvest until the end of August or beginning of September. The yield looks average, about the same as last year.

We are finishing up with canopy work and a last round of fungicide applications. We are either just starting the last round or we have one more round to go. Because we're so spread out from mountain to valley floor, this will be the last application and the other fruit that is further behind will have one more application.

We still have a shortage of labor. Our starting wage continues to increase, but it doesn't seem to attract any new people.

By Luke Reimers, Glenn County diversified grower

The extremely hot weather required extra irrigation hours on our trees in order to maintain adequate moisture these past couple of weeks. Despite the stress caused by the weather, the young trees are growing well.

Our older trees have a good crop of walnuts that look to be sizing well due to the wet spring and good growing weather prior to this past hot spell. We are monitoring for husk fly, codling moth and mites. The pests seem to be under control, but we are watching closely and hearing of some damage from grasshoppers closer to the foothills.

The cattle were moved off of winter ground over the past month, vaccinated and weaned. The calves came off the winter pastures noticeably heavier than the past couple of years. The cows are in great shape, even though weaning averages were up across the board.

The extra rain this year certainly helped everything, including additional grass, to come back in the winter. After a couple of years of reduced stocking rates, it appears that this year we were closer to normal capacity.

By Ken Mitchell, Sacramento County diversified grower

We had a very wet winter, and that really affected everyone. It did no serious damage to us; walnut trees were underwater for awhile and the infrastructure took a couple months to get back to normal.

Turkeys, on the other hand, don't like extreme heat. We had that big heat spell of course, and I lucked out and shipped most of my hens to market before the heat wave. I heard of a few losses, mainly south. Those losses are comparable to dairy cattle.

The poultry industry right now has some cheap inputs, but the industry overall is seeing marginal or minimal growth, or even some stagnation. Breast meat on the turkeys was $1.60, and now we are looking at $1.19. So things have slowed up right now. Competition worldwide is kind of tough.

We are breeding sheep for project lambs this fall, and the heat spell may have impacted them as well.

By Frost Pauli, Mendocino County winegrape grower

The North Coast experienced the same heat spell a couple of weeks ago that hit the rest of the state.

The excessive heat, over 105 degrees for seven straight days, has set pears in particular back at least a week. Most growers I have talked to are thinking pear harvest will be two weeks later than last year.

Grapes in the North Coast look good, with average to above-average crops, very little disease and pest issues to speak of. It has been a difficult growing season with extreme mildew pressure, followed by thunderstorms with hail and rain, followed by extreme heat. Who knows what we will see next.

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