The Tehama County Department of Agriculture is seeking a disaster declaration for almond orchards from the state of California, following a spring freeze. This declaration pertains to damage suffered following four days with lows around 26°F and 28°F. Agricultural Commissioner Rick Gurrola estimates the damage at $19,536,084, with farms in the county experiencing from 30% to 49% crop loss.
The Tehama County Department of Agriculture requested a declaration of disaster from the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services after the almond crop damage report showed a 40 percent loss. The request was sent by Agricultural Commissioner Rick Gurrola. According to the official request form, the damage has been estimated at $19,536,084.
California was experiencing a warm winter until recently, when cooler temperatures and rain brought about a cold start to spring. While this has caused a slowdown in the production of numerous current crops, growers of spring crops are waiting to see as to what extent their crops have suffered. Almond and cherry growers seem to have been the worst hit, and growers will be assessing the damage over the next few weeks.
Early spring in California can be a time of agricultural beauty as trees awaken from their winter slumber in an explosion of white and pink blossoms. After enduring much of a dormant season without rain or significant chilling hours, the weather changed just in time for early stone fruit and almond pollination.
Whipsaw weather changes up and down the Golden State, including warm spells in January and early February, followed by Central Valley cold snaps in mid to late February, have almond growers and state agriculture officials concerned about freeze damage. How much damage has been done to California’s lucrative almond crop won’t be known until harvest time comes, August to October.
A cold snap in the heart of California's agriculture industry could be devastating to the almond crop and ultimately lead to higher prices. It follows three-straight nights of bitter-cold temperatures this week in the San Joaquin Valley — the hub of almond production — where temperatures sank to the low-20s overnight starting Tuesday.
Chile's almond harvest is now over and, this year, growers have reported a dramatic decrease in production after frosts and droughts hurt crops across the country. “We will have the exact figures by area and variety in the next three weeks, but according to estimates, the total volume of almonds has decreased by 15% to 25%, and the calibers are also smaller,” stated Jorge Andres Ovalle Madrid.
Thanks in large part to the California almond industry, pollination fees for Northwest honeybee hives continued to climb at a good clip in 2008. According to Oregon State University's Pacific Northwest honeybee Pollination Economics Survey, the average rental rate for a colony of bees in Oregon and Washington in 2008 was $81.15, up almost 15 percent from the year before. In the last 10 years, average rates have jumped a little over 250 percent. During the last 19 years, average pollination fees have increased by 440 percent.
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