From the Fields - Zack Stuller
By Zack Stuller, Tulare County farmer
We finished kiwi harvest about two weeks ago. The fruit was good size, but we were off 10% to 15% on yield. I think the spring frost in March nipped us a little bit. We also finished harvesting pomegranates. The crop was really good, better than average. We are now picking persimmons and just started harvesting citrus, picking grapefruit and early navels. With citrus, we’re looking at an average crop. The size in general is a little bit off, which may be due to the heat or lack of water. Prices are good for these commodities, and that’s a good thing because the cost of fuel, labor, fertilizer and chemicals is through the roof. It just seems like every time you do something, it costs more than the time you did it before.
I do custom farming for growers in Tulare, Fresno and Kern County. For surface water in the spring, we anticipated very low allocations, and they ended up being low, but they were higher than we expected. The caveat that all of us are facing is the implementation of (the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act). We’ve been involved in it for years now, but the rubber’s now meeting the road. Groundwater pumping allocations are being established, and growers are faced with the reality that we can’t pump as much anymore. All growers here are faced with the idea of fallowing ground, planting different crops and buying neighboring ranches to fallow that so you can keep farming your existing permanent crops.
As we progress later into November-December, we’ll start picking mandarins, and we’ll pick citrus until June. Then in early November, we start getting wind machines ready to do frost protection. That’s another challenge. With the fuel (cost) the way it is, the threshold of what is cold is being discussed.