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.
Take a look at a before and after of tree fruit thinning in one of our peach orchards, pictured below. Thinning is a process in which we remove under sized or over crowded pieces of fruit from our trees. This allows our trees to provide better nutrients to the remaining fruit for better sizing and flavor. It also protects tree limbs from breaking due to the heavy weight of too many pieces of fruit. During this process, our crews are also able to remove unnecessary new growth to save time and costs by not taking another pass through the orchards to prune this growth later.
We are in the midst of planting new grape varieties on our farms. Once the ground is prepped and the irrigation lines are set up, planting locations are marked and new vines are planted. It’s important for the irrigation to be set up first in order to irrigate the land before and after planting, allowing the vines to ease into their new environment. As you can see here, each new vine is given a bamboo stick for support and training purposes and a carton for protection. After the vines are planted, we work on installing our V-trellis system, which has begun with the stakes visible in the photo below.
Our stone fruit orchards are coming along nicely. The early-season peaches pictured above, which are right outside our office, are just about the size of ping pong balls. As you can see, they are already gaining a blush color. Over the coming weeks, they will grow quite a bit as they prepare for harvest, which will begin soon in our orchards. With temperatures in the mid 80s, we should have a very good quality and taste to start the season. Last year, we had lower than normal temperatures and rain for much of May, which impacted our quality. This year’s crop looks exceptionally good, and we should have great tasting fruit by mid-May, with a harvest schedule similar to last year.
Harvest is beginning in our peach orchards this week! Yellow nectarines, white peaches, and white nectarines are scheduled to begin harvest next week. We anticipate being in full volume harvest by the week of May 20.
Around this time of year, each grape berry reveals a tiny flower called bloom. The clusters of grapes have an excess of berries, so we need to thin them during the bloom. Because thinning grapes by hand would be quite time consuming and costly, we complete grape thinning by spraying. This process allows room for each berry to grow to an appropriate size, resulting in better quality grapes. The timing of this spray is crucial to its success.
Precipitation has crept back into the weekly forecast. We will continue to monitor the weather closely as we approach potential thunderstorms.
Harvest is rapidly approaching for our peaches, followed by nectarines and then plums in the coming weeks. From this point forward, our tree fruit will continue to grow and deepen in color until harvest. Keep in contact with your HMC salesperson for harvest updates.
This week’s forecast calls for warm days and cool lows. We are nearing the end of weather concerns, and heading toward hot, sunny days. Our tree fruit thinning is more than half complete, and bunches continue to form on our grape vines.
Our peaches, plums, and nectarines continue to grow as summer approaches. As pictured, our peaches are beginning to gain a little bit of blush color. The anticipated sunshine and warm weather ahead will help our fruit continue to grow and deepen in color and flavor. Things are shaping up for harvest to begin a couple of days later than last year’s start date, which may shift slightly depending on the weather over the next couple of weeks. Keep in contact with your HMC salesperson for harvest updates.
Hot days are upon us, but a chance of precipitation lingers in the forecast. We are in the final weeks of historically-based weather concerns. Our tree fruit thinning is approximately halfway completed, and grape bunches are forming on our vines.
Reedley College has revealed the location of the future McClarty Center for Fine and Performing Arts. The land on the northeast corner of the campus which is the future home of the new building is not just an important piece of the school’s future, but also an important piece of local history: the place where the town of Reedley was founded. The McClarty Family Foundation made a sizable donation to support this effort, which is a cause near and dear to Harold’s heart. Ground-breaking is anticipated to begin in about a year, and the building itself is slated for completion in approximately two years.
Thinning continues in our tree fruit orchards, and our table grape vineyards remain in the shoot development stage of growth. We received a dusting of rain early this week, with warm and sunny days in the forecast.
When the baby fruit on our trees is just under the size of a ping pong ball, we proceed with thinning in our orchards. Thinning involves removing under sized or over crowded pieces of fruit from our trees, which has multiple benefits. By removing excess and under-sized pieces of fruit, the tree is able to provide nutrients to the fruit that remains and the sun will be able to better reach the fruit, both resulting in good sizing and flavor. Additionally, removing excess weight prevents branches from breaking, and having evenly sized fruit results in fewer harvest passes through the field, reducing labor costs.
As mentioned above, tree fruit orchards are undergoing thinning at this time. Our table grape vineyards are in the shoot development stage of growth. This week’s forecast shows warmer days with no likelihood of precipitation.