HMC News – January 2021

Man pruning dormant fruit trees with a pole pruner

Our crews have begun pruning our high density trees, and we are continuing to realize the benefits of our new orchard design. The new design allows our employees to prune the trees without using ladders, which greatly increases worker safety and efficiency. To reach the higher areas of the tree, a pole is attached to electric pruning shears, allowing employees to make the proper cuts with the simple push of a button.

We are in the midst of planting cover crops in our orchards and vineyards. Cover crops are planted beneath the trees and vines for the benefit of the soil, not for harvest. Below ground, fibrous roots from the cover crop feed beneficial soil microbes. Once the cover crop is decimated those roots decompose, creating channels for better water infiltration. Above ground, the cut cover crop breaks down to create organic matter, putting carbon back into the soil, feeding beneficial soil microbes, and assisting with light textured soils like ours. We do not use any irrigation for cover crops, so we have to wait long enough for rain to create moisture in the ground, but plant early enough to ensure that rains will persist to help them grow. Learn more about this topic on our YouTube channel!

Rain has descended upon our farms, with precipitation estimates reaching beyond 2″ in one day alone. For reference, the total precipitation recorded in Fresno in 2020 was just over 6″ and the average rainfall per year in the Central Valley is around 11″. While today is expected to provide the peak of this week’s rainfall, We expect rain through at least the end of the week, with more to start next week.

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