HMC News – June 2024

The hot days tend to slow the rate of tree fruit maturity, leading to a delayed or extended harvest on varieties we are currently picking, or will pick within the next week. We are adding nutrient applications to our plum orchards to help protect them from sunburn and heat stress. Grapes are growing rapidly and are vulnerable to sunburn at this stage of maturity. We are doing our best to grow the canopy as much as possible for protection for the berries.

So far, this year has been excellent for surface water deliveries. We had a better than average winter,
and we’re still seeing some of the benefits of the prior winter’s deluge. The reservoirs near HMC are at or
past capacity, Millerton 101%, Shaver Lake 93%, Pine Flat Dam 99%. We are receiving a 100% allocation
in most of our irrigation districts. In some districts, we are receiving “uncontrolled season flow” surface
water, which is essentially bonus surface water for growers. With this bonus water, we fill the ditches
and canals to recharge our ground water supplies for years when the rain is less abundant and our
allocations are less substantial.

Within a week prior to harvest on each variety, we color prune our stone fruit orchards. Color pruning allows for more sunlight deeper into the tree canopy, which promotes better fruit color and quality. More sunlight also promotes bud health and fruitfulness for the following season.

California leads the nation in both the quality and quantity of peaches, plums, and nectarines due to a unique combination of water, soil, and climate. Our varieties are bred for flavor, cosmetic appeal, and postharvest quality. Because our Valley historically creates a climate in which summer rain typically doesn’t exist, our varieties are not usually selected with rain tolerance considerations. This is why the very rare precipitation events are so concerning.