Frost and high winds impact local almond crops – CBS Sacramento

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WINTERS (CBS13) – Wind and colder temperatures added insult to injury for almond growers still assessing the damage when the highs and then the lows froze the blossoms.

That’s a big deal when you consider the fact that almonds can only grow in five places on Earth. An almond orchard is a far cry from the hectic world that Jasleen Guleti is used to.

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“I was for 20 years in corporate America,” she said. “I worked for Hewlett Packard for many years in their HR department as a senior HR manager.”

Guleti now manages nearly 400 acres of almonds outside of Winters.

“You are producing something,” she said. “You see it every year. It’s more fun, more rewarding.

With reward always comes some risk, and this year Mother Nature has not been kind.

“This year is potentially not looking good,” Guleti said.

Warmer temperatures forced the almond trees to bloom earlier, but when temperatures dropped into the 20s for several days in late February, she says she lost 70% of her crop.

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“We tried everything we could do,” Guleti said. “I’ve been told to water the orchard and keep the soil moist and keep the temperatures low, but you never know what works.”

Lisa Shipley works with the Solano County Agricultural Bureau. Growers are worried about drastic drops in temperatures this year.

“And then you have this wind that doesn’t help either. We’re working with the agriculture commissioner,” Shipley said. “We have a grower survey, so we’re expecting something that’s more representative. of the actual loss, probably within the next week to ten days.”

Each almond tree can produce around 20,000 flowers depending on its size and variety. And each flower is receptive to pollen for about one to three days. So timing is everything.

The next month will be critical to ensure that the nuts that form do not experience even more frost. In the meantime, Guleti still has to pay for the bees, fertilizers and labor to prepare the harvest.

“We harvest because even if it’s 20% of the harvest, you have to get that nut. If damaged or brown inside. You have to get it off the tree,” she said.

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Fewer almonds, of course, drives up costs for consumers, but there’s another reason to be concerned about almond bloom. USDA research shows that a compound in the nectar and pollen of almond trees can reduce bee viruses and parasites that threaten bee health and colonies.

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