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California Crop Weather: freezing temps chill desert vegetables, citrus

California Crop Weather: freezing temps chill desert vegetables, citrus

Freezing temperatures impact vegetables, citrus in Southern California; Icing conditions in fields slow the lettuce harvest in Imperial County; Freezing temperatures may have damaged budding lemon trees in the desert region; Placement of bee colonies in almond orchards for pollination underway across California. 

The California Crop Weather report from the National Agricultural Statistics Service in Sacramento, Calif., released Feb. 6.


The remains of a fast-moving storm system brought showers to Southern California at the start of the week while Northern California enjoyed dry and mild conditions. The showers were the only significant precipitation across the state for the week.

After the storm system exited the region a high pressure ridge developed off the California coast. This pattern persisted for the remainder of the week with generally dry and mild-to-warm conditions reported all across the state.

An exception was the Central Valley, particularly the San Joaquin Valley (SJV), where morning fog persisted and kept temperatures on the cool side for much of the week. Elsewhere, a developing offshore flow brought Santa Ana winds to Southern California by midweek with dry and relatively warm conditions across that part of the state.

Warm temperatures also developed across the Central Coast and the San Francisco Bay regions, plus the northern Sacramento Valley. The weekend saw the offshore flow develop across most of the state with record high temperatures reported across Northern California during the weekend.

Field crops

Winter wheat, barley, oat, and forage fields emerged and developed. Alfalfa re-growth continued and fields were treated for weeds. New fields were planted for the upcoming season. Cover crops also emerged.

Garbanzo beans and safflower were planted. Cotton plow down was nearly complete in Fresno County. Field work has resumed in most areas due to favorable weather. Seed beds were cultivated, and fertilizers and herbicides were applied as conditions allowed.

Fruit crops

SJV Navel orange, mandarin, lemon, pummelo, and grapefruit harvests continued though wet conditions slowed picking and increased fruit decay.

Lemons and grapefruit were picked in the desert region. Freezing temperatures may have caused some damage to budding lemon trees in the desert region.

Netting was placed on some stone fruit trees to protect new blossoms from birds. There was good bud growth in early season blueberry fields. Bees were used for pollination. Wet weather delayed pruning, spraying, and planting in orchards and vineyards.

Nut crops

Pruning, spraying, and tree removal in almonds and walnut orchards was conducted as field conditions allowed. Placement of bee colonies in almond orchards for pollination began across California.

Vegetable crops

Tulare County reported the preparation of seed beds and the planting of early squash and cucumbers.

In Fresno County, the harvest of beets, cabbage, turnips, daikon, green onions, herbs, the choys, chards, and kale was in full swing. Fall-planted garlic and onions grew well while some onion farmers reported a two-week delay in planting new fields due to wet soil conditions. Asparagus and carrot seeds fields were planted. Spring lettuce emerged and grew well.

In Sutter County, ground preparation for processing tomatoes continued. Icing conditions in lettuce fields slowed the harvest in Imperial County.

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