The current warm weather forecast is ideal for fostering growth in the fruit’s current stage of development. However, we are currently two weeks behind last year’s progress, which suggests that our anticipated harvest start date will also be delayed by two weeks. At this point, it is difficult to determine the size of the fruit. Despite the uncertainty surrounding future development and field conditions, the warm weather provides a promising start for a healthy harvest. To provide context for the timing difference between this season and last, the image on the left shows the Spring Princess peach at this time last year, while the image on the right depicts our current Spring Princess.
Thinning in our peaches and nectarines is finally underway. Thinning removes excess, under-sized, or damaged fruit from our trees while it is still in its juvenile stage. This ensures that nutrients are directed to fewer pieces of fruit, resulting in better size and flavor. It also protects the tree from damage due to too much weight on the limbs. Our official start date for thinning this year is 12 days later than 2022. Thinning is indicative of harvest timing, so we are still anticipating a start date two weeks later than last year. In fact, the closest year we’ve had to our current projected start date is 2010. Now the only concern is sizing. Warm weather can move the fruit up a few days, but sizing may be affected if that happens. All in all it looks to be a good crop, and we are optimistic for the 2023 season.
Even though it would seem our fears for historic flooding are finally at ease, they are not. Parts of the valley are still flooded, and a majority of the water is coming this summer. This is officially the largest snowpack on record for the Central and Southern Sierra Nevada mountains. The Department of Water Resources electronic readings from 130 snow sensors placed throughout the state indicate the statewide snowpack’s snow water equivalent is 61.1 inches, or 237 percent of average for this date. To put this into perspective, there is enough water in the mountains to completely fill our already full reservoirs anywhere from two to four times this summer.
With temperatures in the 90’s, timing may move up a day or two, but we still predict the crop will be 12 -14 days later than last year. There is an adequate stone fruit crop with some inconsistent sets that vary block by block. The freeze in January did affect some of our early season varieties, but it is very sporadic. The image above shows the difference in the amount of fruit on the top of the tree versus the bottom where the freeze affected the set.
Ag is always in the news for one topic or another. While some tend to focus on the negative, we like to bring to light all of the positive aspects of agriculture. Please click here to listen to a podcast with Hernan Hernandez, the Executive Director of the California Farmworker Foundation. HMC Farms has been a proud supporter of CFF since the beginning, which was developed to provide concrete solutions for many community-wide issues such as housing crises, food insecurity and healthcare. They believe in helping farmworkers become leaders, and empowering individuals to become advocates for themselves and their communities.