HMC News – May 2020

Harvest has begun in our stone fruit orchards! At this point, the fruit is a little smaller than normal due to the decreased amount of time between bloom and harvest, and the timing is a little ahead of last year.  

It’s hot!  Last week we experienced rain and peak temperatures around 72°, this week’s record projected heat is as high as 109°. Grapes and stone fruit don’t like this heat any more than people. In stone fruit, extreme heat slows everything down and halts growth, causing some heat damage to the fruit – especially dark colored plums. In table grapes, any of the exposed berries not covered by foliage will burn.

A few months ago, we increased efficiency and eliminated the need for ladders by using platforms in our high density stone fruit orchards. Since then, we have started to experiment by attaching an artificial light to the same equipment to perform “night thinning.” Beginning before the sun comes up, crews are able to finish this crucial process in the cool morning hours. Going forward, we will modify our picking by transitioning this process into harvest, resulting in an optimal product by removing the afternoon heat. This is an efficient operation that benefits the workers and product by eliminating the summer heat.

We are moving rake wire in our table grape vineyards. This process opens up a wire in the middle of the trellis that helps guide and organize the canes and their growth to conform to the V shape of the trellis. There are multiple benefits of rake wire use. It helps get all of the clusters to hang out in the “fruiting zone” underneath the trellis, making maintenance and harvest more efficient. Sunlight is allowed in to hit the bottom of canes, which helps with fruitfulness in next year’s crop. A pocket forms for air to flow and escape, reducing chances of humidity getting trapped underneath the canopy.

HMC News – July 31, 2019

We are just coming off of a jump from temperatures in the 90s to a ten day stretch of temperatures reaching highs over 100 degrees, at least half of which were 105° or beyond. The heat wave peaked on Sunday, as temperatures hit up to 110° in some places on our farms. Extended periods of high heat can have a significant impact on our crops, especially when overnight lows don’t dip down enough to give our trees and vines some relief. We typically like the overnight lows to be in the mid 60s or below during the summer to allow for color and sugar development. A heat wave like this slows our production, increases stress on trees and vines, and reduces our harvest to half days because it’s too hot for crews to harvest.

Crop Update

Harvest remains ongoing for HMC Farms peaches, plums, nectarines, and Flame red seedless table grapes. Ivory green seedless table grapes are on track to begin harvest soon. The forecast shows highs dipping slightly to the high 90s for a few days before popping back up into the 100s over the weekend for another five days.