Growers are optimistic about another good growing year, but several pitfalls remain ahead of them during the next three months, according to Alex Ott of the Fresno-based California Apple Commission.
"We’re always concerned when we don’t get a lot of wet weather and when it’s unusually warm in January and February,” he said.
He said the key weather events growers are looking to avoid are late rains and freezing temperatures in March.
Rainy weather late in the growing season causes bees to become less active. The bees are necessary to pollinate the apple tree flowers and can greatly affect yields.
Unseasonably cold temperatures, meanwhile, can cause blooms to freeze and fall off.
“This is always the part of the season when we get a little nervous about the weather,” Ott said. “Once you get past March and April we will have a better understanding of the crop.”
He said the harvest generally lasts from July to October. Among apple growers, the Mother Lode region is considered a microclimate, which is ideal for growing red apples and Granny Smiths.
California orchards produced 120 million pounds of fresh apples last year, Ott said.
The incidence of blight was low in the foothill region last season
due to cool springtime temperatures and low rainfall during the
blooming period, according to an annual report by the Apple Commission,
released earlier this month.