From the Fields® - October 23, 2019

By Jake Samuel, San Joaquin County diversified grower

We are well into walnut harvest, with most if not all of the earlier varieties being at the processor now. We have most of the Chandlers for our custom accounts picked up, with some of the southern part of San Joaquin County to go (including our own fields).

We have had good, cool weather this season, which has helped aid in the quality of the meats of the walnuts. Yet the earlier part of the season, mid-September, being a slow start due to the random heat spells and low humidity, the walnuts weren't able to ripen and so shaking was proving difficult and drying times at the huller and dryer were time-consuming.

Now into the Chandler season, weather has held steady with no rain in sight. Crop size has been down this year, with the USDA objective report being around 630,000 tons. We have seen this to be true throughout the season, since most of everything has been 20-30% below average this year.

In between harvest, we have put on our last irrigations on the cherries and let them start to rest for the winter. Our almonds are working on fall fertilization and final irrigations as well. Tree removal has started on all fronts, and we are looking ahead to start prepping for some gypsum applications as we get into November.

I think I can speak for all of San Joaquin County in that we are excited to see the harvest season coming to a close and working toward another year.

By Grant Chaffin, Riverside County diversified grower

We planted the baby potatoes at the beginning of October. We've had good seedling vigor and emergence and the stand looks good. Lots of whitefly pressure, probably the worst I have seen in a long time.

Cotton defoliation began the third week of October, with picking intentions to begin before Thanksgiving. We had an unusually hot September, so setting fruit on the top proved to be very challenging. We made four insecticide treatments for whitefly this season; it has been really difficult controlling them. California continues to limit our access to new products and to restrict/eliminate using other products. We are running 7-10 days behind in accumulated heat units from planting.

We are in our seventh cutting of alfalfa with yields being about 10% above historical levels. Planting new fields and reseeding existing stands continues to go at full force. Prices are increasing slightly, with significant resistance at the $185-$190 levels.

Our wheat was harvested in June with yields at historical levels, but protein levels were shockingly low.

By Dominic Bruno, Yolo County diversified grower

Rice and walnut harvests are in full swing in Yolo and Colusa counties. Walnuts are looking off a bit in early varieties, but rice is comparable to last season. Quality is looking good overall after a great summer growing season.

With the late spring, there was a lot of overlap with late-planted sunflowers and safflower, but we have worked through those challenges and are now focused on getting the rice and nuts in while the weather is favorable.

As rice is harvested, we have added fish food production to our list of crops for the winter and spring. River Garden Farms looks forward to another "offseason" with Cal Trout, UC Davis and the Rice Commission. The projects are using our fields to grow food for fish, birds and other species, and prove more of the benefits that California agriculture can provide.

By Tom Chandler, Fresno County diversified grower

Our almonds and just about everyone else's almonds in our area have been completed. It was a large crop in our area. All varieties came off the tree very easily. The turnouts from the huller were all excellent as well.

Raisin harvest is also now completed in the area. Our processor appears to be extra picky on quality, which is probably because of the poor market for raisins. Many growers continue to pull out raisin vineyards because of the cheap foriegn raisin imports that are flooding our market.

The crop size appears to be about average for both raisins and winegrapes in our area. Our rubired winegrapes are all we have left to harvest. Hopefully, we will be starting the rubired harvest soon. Sugars have been slow to rise because of the mild weather.

We are in full swing now, putting boron and zinc foliar fertilzer sprays on the almonds and peaches.

The citrus crop size looks light for next year. A bright spot is our pest pressure, such as scale so far in our area has been low.

By Terry Munz, Los Angeles County grain grower

I am finishing up my combining. I should have been done a long time ago, but I was having trouble with my combine and finally got it fixed. I just have a few more acres to go.

It has been a long summer. I got my hay put up fairly easily, and then I brought my combine out and all hell broke loose. I've only got about 100 acres of a barley-oats mix to combine and I grow it mainly for seed. It was so good that I probably have enough seed for three years, and that was just off 100 acres.

It is really plump seed and right when it was filling out it was rained on about six times, so that really helped. And then it was cool weather and it made some really nice seed. This was the first year that I had an above average yield since 2011, so that was eight years.

I heard that all the reservoirs around the state are in good shape for next year.

Basically, I am just finishing up and then I can take a vacation. It was a nice summer, not overly warm, but then Lancaster got down to 31 a few nights ago. I didn't get that because I am at a higher elevation, so it only got down to about 42. They had a little freeze and if anyone had tomatoes out, they might have gotten hit. It is kind of unusual to get a freeze this early. It usually occurs in November.

The weather has been nice, and it is supposed to warm up a little bit, maybe to the mid-80s. I always look at October-November as the nicest time around here as far as weather goes.

I'll wait until we get a good inch of rain before I'll start putting seed in the ground again. Usually, I get a pretty good storm in mid-November. I don't really want any rain right now. I've got a couple haystacks sitting outside and I have all sorts of people knocking on my door wanting to buy hay. I try to get rid of my hay by the first part of November, and after that I will move it into my barns.

My well went out a while back and I had to put a new pump in it. After that happened, it seemed like a Murphy's Law thing was happening for a while, but it is all better now.