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Does this stretch of wet weather spell trouble for almond growers? Not necessarily

Almond Trees
Posted at 5:25 PM, Feb 05, 2024
  • Following the wet, windy stretch of weather, 23ABC was curious to find out if that would have ill effects on almond growers in Kern County as they look to get their season started. The answer is mostly no.
  • Daniel Palla, Grower Relations Manager for JSS Almonds, said the water in the immediate and the bolstered snowpack will provide a boost, however for many farmers the downed trees in their fields will be a pain to deal with. He noted that thankfully the bulk of almond trees in Kern County are not flowering. If the trees were flowering the high wind could have knocked them off, or water could have caused a disease to fester in them, and growers would see a significantly reduced yield, come harvest time.
  • In rural parts of Kern County, you've likely seen, or felt, an influx of bees. Many farmers have put bees in their orchards to help pollinate their crops, but according to Bryan Castro, owner of Bryan's Bees which helps serve parts of Kern County, those too should see little impact. Castro said the wind and rain would have posed an issue for pollinators because they have trouble flying in those conditions. However, since very few flowers were on the tree, most of them were likely hunkered down staying fed on the honey the hive had already produced. Castro did say the rain that Kern County received is likely to benefit the bees because it will create more nectar for them to work on. Castro did note, however, that an extended rain event could create issues, because the bees would not be able to get out of the hive, run out of honey and eventually starve.

If Punxsutawney Phil was right, we shouldn't be having an early spring but with wet and windy weather that we just had over the weekend. What are farmers thinking? Well, according to them, everything's right as rain for the time being.

23ABC spoke with Daniel Palla, grower relations manager for JSS Almonds who noted this time of year is kind of the sweet spot for a storm, very few trees are flowering, and a storm like this can bolster the mountain snowpack which benefits Ag producers later on this year.

“It's always great God gives us this clean water it does great things for our soil without any salts in it," said Palla. "We came out on top with the water. The water is great for our soil, but we do have some cleanup to do and some downed trees. That will will hurt some people.”

Palla said the bulk of the good fortune for these almond farmers is the result of these trees not being in bloom yet. If they were in bloom:

“Now, if this hit in two weeks, this would have been a big problem," said Palla. "The flowers will be opened up, start knocking off flowers with that high wind, then also disease. The flowers are very susceptible to disease and the moisture from the rain will cause outbreak of disease.”

Driving around Kern County, you may have seen or felt a familiar presence in and around orchards over the last week or so. Bees are back as farmers work to pollinate their crops. But does this weather system spell trouble for them? The answer is it can, but it likely won’t at this stage.

We spoke with Bryan Castro, owner of Bryan’s Bee’s and he said while the wet and windy weather isn’t ideal for pollinators right now, it does have a benefit for them and the farmers, as long as the storm doesn’t last for an extended period of time.

“This rain is important. The more it rains, the more nectar that’s going to come from the flowers. So the bees are going to be happier: as long as it’s a short window. Again, if it’s a two, three week storm, that would be a different story. But as it is, as long as it can dry up enough in the next couple of days, it’s going to be a really good season,” said Castro.

While the wet and windy weather were less than ideal, the general consensus is there's little cause for concern.

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