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California Crop Weather: rains saturate agriculture

California Crop Weather: rains saturate agriculture

Weather pattern brought widespread heavy rain and mountain snow, strong winds, thunderstorms, and tornadoes to California the week of March 21; Field crop work delayed due to heavy rainfall in many areas; Pre-emergent herbicides applied in Napa County grape vineyards; The San Joaquin Valley almond bloom continued - bees positioned in late-blooming orchards. 

The California Crop Weather report from the National Agricultural Statistics Service’s Field Office in Sacramento, Calif. released March 28.


A very active weather pattern brought widespread heavy rain and mountain snow, strong winds, thunderstorms, and tornadoes to California the week of March 21. Monday included the remains of a powerful Pacific storm system exiting the state through the southeastern end.

Heavy rains were recorded in southern California as a result while the north had residual light rains. There was a brief respite on Tuesday in between the storm systems.

On Wednesday, a strong cold front pushed through Northern California bringing heavy precipitation. In the cool, unstable atmosphere behind the cold front, numerous thunderstorms developed. A few small tornadoes were spawned in the central Sacramento Valley.

Vigorous weather systems continued to hit California through Saturday resulting in unusually high precipitation amounts across California. River levels ran high. A generous overflow ran through the Sacramento River bypass system into the Delta. Several flood warnings were posted along major rivers across northern California.

Sunday was a relatively calm day as the last of the organized storm systems moved out of California with only light precipitation reported across the state.

Field crops

Field work was delayed due to heavy rainfall in many areas. Wheat fields progressed. Winter wheat experienced some lodging due to the rain and wind in Tulare County. Winter forage development continued along with the barley and oat crops.

The recent heavy rains helped alfalfa fields grow. Broadleaf and grass control continued in alfalfa fields. Irrigation took place in areas not affected by rain.

Dry land crops progressed in areas with sufficient soil moisture. Herbicide applications recommenced on small grain fields as weather permitted.

Drainage work was ongoing in rice fields. The preparation of cotton and dry bean fields continued. Corn seed arrived in preparation for spring planting. Some spring field work continued with tillage and weed control where conditions allowed.

Fruit crops

The Navel orange, Valencia orange, grapefruit, mandarin, and lemon harvests continued in the San Joaquin Valley (SJV). Lemon and grapefruit picking was ongoing in the desert region with some lemons picked in the coastal regions. Citrus plants were shipped across the country from Tulare County nurseries.

Pre-emergent herbicides were applied in Napa County grape vineyards along with ongoing pruning. Shoot elongation showed in most grape varieties.

Blooming continued in stone fruit with some concern for mold and mildew. Cherry and prune orchards were almost in full-bloom. Strawberry plants matured and showed good development. Olive trees were pruned.

Nut crops

The SJV almond bloom continued. Bees were positioned in late-blooming almond orchards. Fungicide applications were ongoing as the weather allowed. Some damage was reported

from wind and spotty hail. Blight sprays and field preparations continued for walnuts.

Vegetable crops

Processing tomatoes were planted with drip irrigation testing in some fields. Field preparations for lettuce planting were underway in Fresno County. Carrots, cabbage and some organic vegetables were harvested in Kern County. Early squash were under hot caps. Bloom was expected in the upcoming weeks in Tulare County.

Broccoli and other winter vegetable harvests though hampered by wet conditions continued in Fresno County. The SJV asparagus harvest continued. 

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