Oct 3, 2023Blue Diamond crop report indicates sub-optimal harvest conditions
Blue Diamond released its latest Crop Progress Report on Oct. 2, 2023, which indicated that “less than ideal weather plagued growers in all areas of the Central Valley during September, presenting sub-optimal conditions for the 2023 harvest.”
This report covered both conditions and observations that existed between Aug. 28-Oct. 1.
“Daily maximum temperatures were widely reported in the mid and upper 90’s in the period’s opening days, with areas of the southern San Joaquin Valley reporting readings as high as 100 degrees, Mel Machado, vice president of member relations at Blue Diamond Growers, said in an email. “However, temperatures dipped into the low and mid 80’s as the month progressed, heralding the end of summer transition. Morning lows followed a similar trend, ranging from the mid and upper 60’s down to the mid 50’s by the end of the period.”
Machado also shared that multiple weather events during the month provided the region with occasionally heavy rain showers in the northern San Joaquin Valleys and Sacramento regions, one of which provided about “1.5 inches of rain in the heaviest downpours.”
During September, growers continued harvesting during the challenging weather conditions. “The diverse maturity levels noted in our previous report continued to hinder harvest operations as growers waited for the optimal time to begin shaking. Comparatively high humidity levels have combined with the variable maturity to extend the time required to adequately dry the crop on the ground. The occasional shower has only made problems worse, and the rainfall recorded in the period’s final days will pose additional challenges for those in the most impacted areas. Growers with crop flat on the ground will have to delay sweeping until the nuts dry enough to be safely windrowed and conditioned. Those with crop in windrows will have to condition the product to remove soil and debris in order to prevent fungal growth and dry the crop enough to be hulled and shelled,” Machado detailed.
The last of the Nonpareil and Independence crops were picked during the last week of September. Harvest is underway for Aldrich, Carmel, Butte and Padre. Some growers in both the west side of San Joaquin and Sacramento Valleys have begun shaking the last-to-harvest Monterey and Fritz. Growers in advanced areas with only early- and mid-harvesting varieties have completed harvest and are now in postharvest mode, according to the crop report.
Quality and yield considerations from the report include reject levels attributable to Navel Orange Worm (NOW) continued throughout the harvest and the damage levels have reached double-digit values for many growers.
“Deliveries from huller/sheller operations with the highest reject levels have contained all stages of development, small larvae, large larvae, pupae, and adult moths. Damage from NOW is so prevalent that the mention of Brown Spot, caused by Plant Bugs, which had reached troubling levels in previous years has been knocked out of conversations this year,” the report detailed.
The full Blue Diamond Grower’s report is available online, and also detailed information on stockpiling in-hull almonds, and concerns with excessive moisture promoting fungal growth, and reduced load counts compared to last year’s production. Additionally, the report provided information on huller/shellers and turnout levels, which is also below last year’s levels and has resulted in a lower than anticipated per-acre yield in most Nonpareil plantings.
“Many huller/shellers there are reporting yield levels running 20% or more below 2022 crop totals. This is leading many growers to question the official 2023 crop production forecast,” Machado said in the email.
The next crop report is expected to be posted by Blue Diamond Growers on Nov. 6, 2023.