During April, apricot, nectarine, peach, plum, and prune fruit continued to develop. Harvest began for a few early peach varieties. Cherry fruit developed as growers continued to spray for the Oriental Fruit Fly. Prunes were past full bloom and beginning to leaf-out in Sutter and Yuba counties. Weed treatments and bloom sprays continued in stone fruit orchards. Grape and kiwifruit vines were growing rapidly as temperatures increased. Pomegranates and persimmons continued to leaf-out. Apples were blooming and leafing-out. Blueberries were being picked and packed in Tulare County. Olive groves were pruned.
Almond bloom finished while trees began leafing-out and nuts continued to develop. Growers evaluated earlier hail damage in the San Joaquin Valley. A heavier than normal drop, possibly due to earlier frost damage, was reported in some areas. Walnuts were in full bloom as blight applications continued. Pistachio bloom finished in the Fresno area. Fungicides were applied to some orchards.
Harvest of Navel oranges, tangerines, tangelos, and lemons continued. Harvest of late variety Navel oranges and early Valencia oranges gained momentum. Orange trees were in bloom in some areas as bees were moved into citrus groves in preparation for full bloom.
The initial subjective forecast for the 2012 California almond production is 2 billion pounds. This is 1.5 percent below last year's record production of 2.03 billion pounds. Yield, forecasted at 2,560 lbs/acre, is down 4 percent from 2011's record of 2,670 lbs/acre. Forecasted bearing acreage for 2012 is 780 thousand. This forecast is based on a telephone survey conducted April 19 - May 1 from a sample of almond growers. Of the 458 growers sampled, 283 reported. Acreage from these reports accounted for 27 percent of the total bearing acreage.
The 2012 almond crop is shaping up nicely. February was warm and dry across the State, creating favorable bloom conditions for almond trees. While the bloom period was shorter than last year, the excellent weather made up for the shorter overlap and bloom load was high. Chilling hours were plentiful. An early March frost resulted in some spotty damage in southern San Joaquin Valley and an early April hailstorm affected orchards in Merced County. Weather in the Sacramento Valley has been near ideal. A heavier than normal drop was reported in the San Joaquin Valley. Low disease and insect pressure were reported.