HMC News – January 2023

This month California was in a drought and a flood at the exact same time. We are ending the year with 40% more precipitation than last year, but unfortunately our state does not have the infrastructure to capture all the water that is rapidly falling upon us. On average, a “normal” rain day in California is 0.25″-0.75″, but these atmospheric river storms are bringing 2″+ of water at a time. While our vineyards and orchards are equipped to handle the weather, many places are not. The reservoirs are currently at half capacity and snowpack is already up to 200% of average, and we still have several months of weather ahead of us. Even though a lot of water will be lost to the ocean rather than being captured, the reservoirs and groundwater will get a much-needed recharge which is a big positive.



Pruning continues in our California vineyards. All acreage is pre-pruned with a machine that removes top half of the last season’s growth mechanically. The final pruning cuts are then made by hand with crews that have been trained to leave the precise amount of wood to ensure the optimal health of the vine and growth for future crops. These cuts form “spurs” (the positions on the vine from which this year’s growth will come) along the “cordons” (the main lateral limbs coming from the trunk). Because grapes are a vine, the growth each year is rapid. A fully
mature vine will be pruned back to essentially the same place every season.

Grape shipments from Peru have resumed at normal levels. Last month’s social unrest created a delay in shipments, which caused tight supply conditions this month. As we move into February, we should see the situation change, with ample supply of both Peruvian and Chilean grapes.


The storms have ended for the time being and bloom is right around the corner. Things here are wet, but the fields need it and the sandier soils in our area are draining nicely. The charts above show that while we received a historic amount of rainfall, a lot of the water was unable to be captured in reservoirs and instead drained into the ocean. In 2014 Proposition 1: The Water Quality, Supply, and Infrastructure Improvement Act, a $7.5 billion bond dedicated $2.7 billion for the public benefits of new water storage projects, was passed. Since then, nothing has been built to improve our water infrastructure. The drought combined with the floods are shedding a new light on the legislative issues that have contributed to our current water crisis.


The conditions this winter have been ideal for growing tree fruit. Our orchards are currently tracking at 963 chill hours for the season. This is a 190-hour increase from this time last season. Chill hours can have different definitions, but we calculate our hours by measuring the time the temperature is 45 degrees Fahrenheit or below. Fruit trees need a specific number of chill hours each winter to regulate their growth. If a tree doesn’t experience enough chill hours in the winter the flower buds might not open at all in spring, or they might open unevenly Fortunately, we have already received plenty of chill hours for the season and any cold weather is appreciated until the buds break and blossoms emerge.

HMC News – December 2022

It is no secret that California is in dire need of rain and snow this winter. The current drought from 2020 to 2022 is now the driest three-year period on record, breaking the old record set by the previous drought from 2013 to 2015. At the beginning of this month, we recorded 1.21 inches of rainfall out at our farms which brings our rainfall total for the year to 3.36 inches. Unfortunately, we are still 9.47 inches below the historical yearly average. To ease the need for water in 2023 we will need to receive several inches above our 12.83-inch annual average. Fortunately, rain is in the forecast again and our hope is the storms will continue & replenish our depleted reservoirs.

The recent political turmoil in Peru has created uncertainty in the California to Peru table grape transition. With seven presidents in the past six years, this most recent political crisis has seen highways and airports seized, making the movement of fresh produce from farms to ports impossible in the southern growing region of the country. The situation in Peru’s northern growing region remains normal. A higher-than-normal number of Peruvian grapes have already arrived in the U.S or are in transit. Coupled with ample supplies of California storage fruit, we are optimistic that with careful coordination we will minimize any impacts the situation in Peru has on the transition.

Happy holidays from our family to yours! We hope you have a wonderful time celebrating with family, friends, and loved ones. This winter at HMC Farms, we collected gifts for the Marjaree
Mason Center Tree of Hope. These gifts will be given to families affected by domestic violence in Fresno County. The Center’s goal is to support and empower adults and their children who
have been affected by domestic violence, while striving to prevent and end the cycle of abuse through education and advocacy. Last year, the Center provided services to over 9,600 adults and children including over 89,000 nights of safe housing, 4,800 hotline calls, and 3,900 counseling sessions.

HMC News – January 2022

We’re starting the new year with a good amount of precipitation on the books already this winter, and a gorgeous view of the snowy Sierra Nevada mountains from our office. September-December of 2021, we received 7.52″ of rain on our farms, compared with only 1.89″ in the same timeframe in 2020. We have already blown past the 7.07″ total for Sept 2020-June 2021, and more rain is likely on the way over the next couple of months. In December alone, we received just over five inches of much needed rain on our farms, which is a big step forward from the 1.45″ of precipitation we measured in December of 2020. We are close to wrapping up pruning in our stone fruit orchards, and pruning more heavily in our table grape vineyards during this break in the rain. The weather has been cold, which is perfect for pruning and for accumulating necessary chill hours for our trees and vines. 

dormant grape vineyard with puddle of water, blue sky with clouds above

With the rain we’ve had this winter comes another weather event: Tule fog. Tule fog is a radiation fog that forms in the Central Valley when the ground is damp and temperatures are low. The fog is so dense that visibility is measured in feet, and when visibility is too low our local schools have a late-start “foggy day schedule” to allow the fog to lighten up a bit before school buses can safely operate. Once we’ve finished pruning our trees, we will go back through our traditional orchards to repair any damaged roping, which helps keep the trees in a vase shape and supports the weight of next season’s crop. We are almost ready to plant new trees in the blocks we prepped over the past few months.

satellite image of California with thick white streak of Tule fog through the middle

January is National Blood Donor Month, and HMC Farms recently hosted an employee blood drive in partnership with Central California Blood Center. Our participants ranged from multiple first time donors to a member of the five gallon club. All of the blood collected at our event will be put to good use in life-saving measures in the Central Valley.

Man with HMC Farms hat looking down - first time blood donor sticker on shirt

We are done pruning trees in our stone fruit orchards, and through the majority of our grapevine pruning. We are finishing up the final touches on new irrigation systems in our prepped blocks, and we will plant new trees once installation is complete. Field activity will slow down over the next couple of weeks as our trees begin to bloom. By mid-February, the Central Valley should be full of orchards covered in pink and white blossoms.

Dormant peach orchard - trees with no leaves or fruit and blue sky

Noticias del HMC - Enero de 2020

Bienvenidos a una nueva década! Aunque sea invierno en nuestras granjas, todavía hay mucho que hacer...

El tiempo reciente ha proporcionado algunas horas de frío cruciales para nuestros árboles y vides. Las horas de frío se producen cuando la temperatura está entre 32°F y 45°F mientras nuestros árboles y vides están inactivos. Cada variedad y tipo de fruta tiene diferentes necesidades de horas de frío, que pueden oscilar entre 100 y 800 horas aproximadamente. Actualmente tenemos más de 700 horas de frío registradas en nuestras fincas. Esto supone unas 200 horas más de las que teníamos a estas alturas del año pasado. Las precipitaciones de enero en nuestras explotaciones están en la media del Valle Central. Una vez que se han alcanzado las horas de frío y el tiempo empieza a ser cálido, nuestros árboles y vides empiezan a salir del letargo, señalado por los brotes y las floraciones.


El tiempo en el Valle Central de California tiene sus propios atributos. Una de las cosas que nos distingue es la niebla de tule. No es una niebla ordinaria, la niebla tule es una niebla de radiación, que se forma cuando la humedad es alta y el suelo está frío con poco o ningún viento. Esta densa niebla terrestre se forma a menudo en los días siguientes a la lluvia en el Valle Central, provocando tramos de muy baja visibilidad - a menudo 1/4 de milla (.4 km) o menos. Esta baja visibilidad conduce a "horarios de días de niebla" en nuestras escuelas locales, ya que los autobuses escolares y los padres esperan a que la visibilidad aumente para que las condiciones de conducción sean seguras.


Los árboles de nuestros huertos de alta densidad han crecido hasta un punto que abre la puerta a un nuevo método de poda de árboles utilizando una plataforma en lugar de escaleras. En comparación con el uso de la escalera, la plataforma ahorra tiempo y aumenta la seguridad de nuestros equipos de campo al eliminar la necesidad de subir y bajar una escalera y luego moverla unos metros para comenzar el proceso de nuevo. La plataforma es beneficiosa para muchas actividades agrícolas en nuestros huertos de alta densidad, incluyendo la poda, el aclareo y la cosecha. Estamos muy contentos de ver cómo este nuevo equipo aumentará nuestra eficiencia a lo largo del ciclo de la fruta del árbol este año.

Noticias del HMC - 4 de diciembre de 2019

La poda tradicional es bastante laboriosa y siempre buscamos formas de mejorar el proceso. Este año, estamos utilizando una prepodadora para preparar la poda de nuestros viñedos. La prepodadora elimina el exceso de crecimiento y realiza un corte básico en las vides, reduciendo significativamente la cantidad de tiempo que los equipos necesitan para podar. Esto debería permitir a los equipos acceder más fácilmente a las vides para realizar una poda específica, haciendo que el proceso general sea más eficiente.

Actualización de los cultivos:

Durante las vacaciones de Acción de Gracias, finalmente se produjeron algunas precipitaciones en nuestra zona, lo que nos permitió completar la vendimia justo antes de que empezara a llover. La falta de lluvias tempranas este año ha sido muy inusual, pero parece que hemos vuelto a la carga. Estamos retirando las cubiertas contra la lluvia en nuestros viñedos de uva y podando en nuestros huertos de fruta de hueso, tomando descansos para disfrutar de las "vacaciones del agricultor" durante el bienvenido tiempo de lluvia.

Noticias del HMC - 20 de noviembre de 2019

La poda está en pleno apogeo en nuestros huertos frutales tradicionales, como se ve en la foto de arriba. Como se puede ver, los árboles están desprovistos de hojas, lo que permite a nuestros equipos distinguir entre la madera más vieja y la madera fructífera. Pronto comenzaremos la poda en nuestros huertos de plantación de alta densidad, que es un proceso ligeramente diferente. La poda nos permite preparar la siguiente temporada manteniendo la forma y la estructura de los árboles.

Actualización de los cultivos:

La cosecha de uva de mesa de HMC Farms está terminando rápidamente. El tiempo ha seguido cooperando con nuestra cosecha, ayudando a mantener una excelente calidad de la uva. Parece que finalmente podremos ver algo de precipitación a mediados de la próxima semana. El pronóstico muestra temperaturas altas en los 60s con algunas bajas nocturnas frías para comenzar la semana de Acción de Gracias.