Warm weather causes early bloom

Valley farmers hope to see a few showers moisten the soil left dusty by the drought but the warm weather has also created a strange sight in some orchards.
January 29, 2014 12:00:00 AM PST
Valley farmers hope to see a few showers moisten the soil left dusty by the drought but the warm weather has also created a strange sight in some orchards. Some fruit trees are already blossoming.

Peach orchards near Selma were pretty in pink but growers said the bloom has come much too early this season. The warm winter weather has caused the blossoms to pop in many trees.

Jon McClarty of HMC Farms explained, "Lately it's been much warmer than the seasonal average so that's kind of told the trees to wake up a bit earlier than they usually do."

Fruit and nut trees need a certain amount of chill hours where they go dormant and store up energy.

The early blossoming stone fruit orchards had some Valley growers worried.

Fresno County Ag Commissioner Les Wright said, "I don't know if it will affect production at all. It didn't get the chill hours. I'm not sure how the fruit's gonna be on it. Whether it's a light crop or small crop or whatever. Time will tell."

Bees were drawn to the blossoms because the lack of rain hasn't produced any wildflowers so they can forage for food.

A few showers would help growers who've had to pump groundwater to irrigate their crops. Farmers welcome whatever rain they can get.

McClarty said wet weather won't damage the blossoms which have come two weeks early in some orchards. "I think the main concern is you're still exposed to more time late January and February for colder weather to come in and ruin the blossoms."

Blooming fruit trees are more susceptible to freeze damage and hail storms.


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