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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Bloom Spray

With the onset of rain in our forecast we are happy to be getting the water and man do we it. It is due to rain tomorrow and Saturday, but better yet it is supposed to snow in the mountains! Snow pack is really what we need to store the water for later months. We are happy to have the water, but at the same time, the almond blooms are open and being pollinated. The Almond bloom blog discussed pollination in more detail. If water gets in to the blooms then we could have fungal diseases on the almonds. This could result in infected almonds and crop lose.

So with the rain coming we are doing a bloom spray. This bloom spray consists of fungicides, which are mostly copper based.  Fungicides are used to prevent fungus from growing or to block the fungus from infecting the almond.  These fungicides act as a layer of protection to keep the fungus from forming on the almonds. With bloom spray we will be able to protect our crop from any fungal diseases and enjoy the rain!

Tractor pulling sprayer through the field

This is the sprayer we use to protect our crop.

Until Next Time,
Almond Girl

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Land optimization

With land prices increasing and resources becoming even more scarce it is getting harder and harder for the farmer to expand their business. Farmers are looking for other ways to maximize the amount of farmable acres in our fields. We thought of an opportunity on the last field we purchased. They previously farmed hay on the property and flood irrigated their crops. When we planted almond trees we installed a drip irrigation system. Drip irrigation is a more efficient way to irrigate trees, and when there is such little irrigation water we always turn to efficiency.

Four years later, we still had this tail pit on a corner of the field from the flood irrigation system that we weren't using anymore. We have a large reservoir we use on the other side of the field and no need for a small pit as well. 
 
Filling in the tail pit
Crane lifting out parts of the flood irrigation system




To make the area usable we needed to remove the infrastructure from the flood irrigation system. We removed the electrical service, the pump and the cement structures used to operate the system. This was the more labor intensive project, we brought in a crane to lift the cement chunks and pump parts out. Slowly, when there was extra dirt around from odd projects on the farm we would take the dirt to the tail pit to fill it in. Once we filled in the pit we leveled the soil, made tree mounds, planted young trees and extended the irrigation hose.  Now we have 40 additional trees in the orchard and optimized our land usage!

Land optimization!
 Until Next Time,
Almond Girl

Monday, February 17, 2014

Almond Bloom and Bees!

Last week the bees arrived!  The bees come into the orchard when the blooms are starting to push open. We want the bees to be in place and acclimated by the time the orchard is in full bloom so they can start getting busy and spread pollen.
This orchard is about 75% full bloom, perfect for the bees to get to work!
Bees are an essential tool to pollination of the almond blooms. Almonds are self incompatible meaning they require cross pollination between varieties. For this reason each almond orchard has at least two different varieties of almonds to ensure pollination. Almonds are dependent on bees to take pollen from one variety to another. You will commonly see orchards in which every other row is a different variety or some times there is also three varieties in an orchard. The varieties are picked by the almond farmer based on pollination compatibility and yield.


Farmers generally use two bee hives per acre. The hives are generally set on the ends of the orchard rows so the beekeeper will be able to check on his hives throughout the pollination process. At a cost from $150-$200 an acre, they are a costly but necessary expense. Bees are subject to disease and colony collapse, making the bees more and more scarce. But without the bee, the almond tree wouldn't be pollinated.

Until Next Time,
Almond Girl

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day- Let's thank a farmer!

Many people think of Valentine's Day as a romantic, gushy holiday. While some of you may be dreading today because you may not have a lover, or you may be waiting at the door for the flower delivery truck, others are working hard to delivery you those roses on time. From a person who worked as a florist through college, it is nice to be on the receiving end instead of the arranging end.

But did you ever look at Valentine's Day from a rose farmers perspective? Rose growers are farmers too, just maybe ones who don't pop in our minds as often. Kern County and more specifically Wasco, produces the largest amount of roses in the United States. Wasco grows garden roses and one of the biggest garden rose companies is right here in my backyard. Rose plants, trees and transplants can be seen along Highway 46 and 43 which runs through the town. Roses used to be one of the biggest agriculture crops in Wasco, but now you wont be able to spot as many as years ago. Roses are becoming harder and harder to grow in Kern County. With land prices rising and water as scarce as it is, farmers are turning to more high dollar crops that give them a larger return on their investments.

I am thankful for my amazing husband and the roses he sent me today. But we also have to remember and thank the farmer who grew the roses! So next time you think twice about what to buy for Valentine's Day, support a farmer and buy roses!

Until Next Time,
Almond Girl

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Rural Housewives

When I first entered the blog world I was welcomed with open arms by many. I quickly realized there was a little community of people that I was missing out on for so long. Through my adventures and discovering other agriculture bloggers I came across Housewives of Rural America. I was given the opportunity to be a blog contributor for them and today was my first blog! I am beyond excited to join some awesome women from across the country who share my passion for agriculture! Check out the link and 'It's not the destination, it's the journey'!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

How is the CA drought going to affect you and what can you do?

News this week, the Department of Water Resources has lowered the state water project allocations to zero percent. This is the first time in recorded history that farmers and municipals will receive zero percent of water they paid for. Some farmers and cities do have ground water supply, local reservoir sources or a balance due to them but this isn't enough. There are plenty of farmers who have no other source of water.

What does that mean to you?  According to CDFA, if California were a country, we would be the fourth largest agriculture producer with $44.7 billion in revenue. California is the sole US producer of almonds, artichokes, figs, dates, raisins, kiwis, olives, clingstone peaches, pistachios, plums, pomegranates, sweet rice, and walnuts. Wow thats a lot of crops, farmers, laborers and consumers depending on California and our water!

As a consumer, you will see shortages of California grown crops. Some crops we may not be able to produce. Less crop, less supply. Less supply, higher cost to the consumer. Are you prepared to pay more for your food? The Huffington Post info graphic to the right is actually a great way to show how this is going to have an effect on consumers.

Farmers and ranchers throughout the great state of California are joining together and asking you for one thing, to pray. Pray for rain and snow! If you eat food and wear clothes, this drought will effect you. Pray for rain in the valleys and snow in the mountains. Not just a one time rain, we need lots of rain. The DWR press release quotes "It would need to rain and snow heavily every other day from now until May to get us back to average rainfall and snow levels. Even then California would still be in a drought'  We need a miracle and everyone banning together to make this work.

A fellow California Women for Agriculture farmer and rancher put her great efforts of communications and social media together to ask us all to pray and take some time out of your day tomorrow to reflect, pray and harvest our faith together! Harvesting faith is one step we can all participate in to draw attention on the great things that are possible when people come together for the greater good.

Pray for rain!

Until Next Time,
Almond Girl