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  • Almond harvest looks early this year

    Jul 27th, 2015

    Almond farmers who planned a mid-summer getaway may need to put those plans on hold.Already the nuts are at the phase of hull split, which comes just before its time to shake the trees.Butte County Agricultural Commissioner Richard Price said all crops are early this year.The reason is simple: the weather was great for growing.Price has been the Ag Commissioner for 27 year, and has worked in agriculture more than 40 years. He said he has never seen an almond crop come this early.He estimated people will start shaking the earliest varieties by the end of next week. Nonpareil varieties, which are the most popular, may see harvest begin the second week of August, he estimated.The bloom in February was during good weather and most of the trees bloomed at nearly the same time. This created good overlap for pollination.“Once the nuts set, it was warm at night and on track,” Price said.The statewide projection is for an overall almond crop about 4 percent lighter than last year and 8 percent lighter than the year before that, he said.However, Price said he believes yields in Northern California will be better than the statewide average.As for the drought, Price said an important time when lack of water impacts yield is in the fall. That’s when trees promote bud development, he explained. For this reason farmers will apply water very soon after harvest. 

    Walnut Wait and see

    If you look at walnut trees right now, the nuts are encased in a green hull which looks like the size of a small apple. Walnuts are slightly different than other nuts because they need a small amount of moisture in the air to trigger the tree to let go of the nuts, Price explained. “We’ll see what happens,” when it comes time when rain would normally occur.One issue walnut farmers are battling is sun protection, price said.People who drive by walnut orchards might notice what Price calls “snow” on trees long the edge of the orchards.The sun protection is actually a gray color, and some might mistake it for soot or dust on the outside row.

    The trunks of trees might also be painted white for sun protection, he pointed out.