Crop Report for the week ending May 18
By Tom Tucker
6:44 am,
May 17, 2024

Small grains and other field crops: Winter forage silage harvest is in full swing. Harvested winter grain fields are being fertilized, tilled, and planted with summer silage crops such as corn and sorghum. Cotton and corn silage fields that have been furrowed and left fallow during the winter are being tilled and planted. Corn silage fields that were planted in mid-April are about knee high. The warm weather is beneficial for plant growth. Alfalfa is being cut, raked, and baled. Tomatoes continue to grow with some fields already producing plants around a foot tall. Row crop farmers are utilizing surface irrigation if infrastructure allows. 

Deciduous tree fruits, nuts, and grapes: Stone fruit harvest has begun, with early season peaches and apricots being packed and shipped domestically. Reflective mylar sheeting is being laid down to speed up the coloring of stone fruit. Apricots are being packed and exported to Mexico. Cherry harvest has begun, and the fruit is being shipped domestically. Plum and peach orchards are being thinned for larger size fruit production. Grape and kiwi early varieties are developing fruit while later varieties are in bloom. Grapes are being pruned and tied in the field. Some bareroot grapevines are heading to other nurseries in California for planting. Pecans are being exported to the Middle East, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Italy, Israel, and Japan. Old walnut and almond orchards are being removed and ground into wood chips Asian pears are developing fruit.

Citrus, avocados, and olives: Late navels are almost done being harvested for the season. As most orange harvesting is now being done for Valencia oranges. Valencia oranges are being packed for both domestic orders and some export orders for Mexico, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and the Philippines. The extra warm early summer weather is presenting some difficulty in storing citrus for long periods after harvest. Olive trees are still in bloom and are being pollinated.

Vegetables, melons, herbs, and berries: Melons are being planted for summer harvest. Blackberry vines are blooming. Zucchini, Eggplants, squash, and onions are growing and developing. Planted strawberry fields continue to grow and local strawberry roadside stands are open. Blueberry harvest is ongoing in various locations around Tulare and Visalia. Some older blueberry fields have been removed and will be planted with newer varieties.

Livestock and poultry: The cattle market remains stable with fall-calving cows and spring pairs being sold. Sheep are being used as weed control for orchards. The fed-cattle price is $184/cwt this week. Irrigated pastures are in good to excellent condition. Non-irrigated pastures are in fair condition due to winter storms. The recent cool wet conditions have been beneficial for rangeland cattle at upper elevations. Non-irrigated pastures at lower elevations and the valley floor are drying out due to the warmer weather. 

Tom’s additional comments: Nursery shipments may begin to slow with the completion of Mother’s Day and the warmer temperatures. Most home gardeners have planted their vegetable gardens for the season. Commercially, maintenance gardeners are purchasing ornamental warm-season flowers and greenery, soil, and mulch. Local wholesale citrus nurseries are shipping citrus trees, graft wood, and seed locally and out of state to Hawaii, Arizona, Texas, the east coast, and international nurseries and growers in Canada and the Bahamas. Snow melt in the mountains is increasing with the warmer temperatures and surface water is flowing in many of the irrigation ditches and canals.

About the Author

Tom Tucker