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Almond blossom ‘snow fall’ underway
almond blossoms
Almond trees around Stanislaus County and the Central Valley are at full bloom this week (JEFF BENZIGER/The Journal).

The most unique and picturesque time of year has once again hit Stanislaus County, as the area’s numerous almond orchards are in full bloom.

There are plenty of opportunities to stroll next to the white and pink blossoming orchards locally, as almonds are the No. 1 crop in Stanislaus County, with 216,265 harvested acres in 2019 at a value of $1,228,536,000.

Statewide there are almost 1.4 million acres of almonds— including 1.25 million acres that are mature enough to bear nuts — producing a crop valued at $6.09 billion. They constitute California second largest farm product behind milk at $6.4 billion. California’s annual almond production alone is larger than the total farm output of Kentucky as well as 26 other states.

Warmer temperatures have spurred flower development at a faster pace in the past week than was occurring when the bloom period started. High winds, thigh, have reduced pollination hours in some areas. Growers have expressed concern that drying winds could reduce the viability of flowers that were already opened.

Blue Diamond Growers in their weekly report on Feb. 26 noted the central region that includes Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties reached peak bloom mid-week last week for soft shelled and early blooming almond varieties. Late blooming and hard-shelled almonds were expected to have reached peak bloom by today.

All of that beauty — as well as almonds the trees will yield when harvest time rolls around in late summer — are made possible by bees.

And there are a lot of bees doing their thing. Usually two hives are placed per acre. A typical commercial hive has 60,000 bees. Given there are 216,265 acres of almonds in Stanislaus County there are some 25.9 billion bees busy at work in the orchards around Turlock, Modesto, Hughson and Patterson. Almond pollination continues to grow along with almond production in Stanislaus County, and is ranked at No. 8 on the top commodities list for 2019.

Most of those bees are expected to be gone by mid-month headed east and north to pollinate other crops.
The almond pollination effort — the largest in the world in terms of mobilizing bee hives — not only starts the nation’s crop pollination season but it also requires half of the commercial beehives in the United States to make happen.

— Dennis Wyatt contributed to this report.