Storm Damage Spotty in South San Joaquin Valley

Severe thunderstorms brought heavy rain, strong winds and damaging hail to parts of California’s San Joaquin Valley April 24.

Cindy Bean, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Hanford, Calif., said her office received reports of hail up to 1.25 inches in diameter in the Tulare area. There were no official reports of weather damage from the storm.

Agricultural officials in Tulare and Kern counties likewise did not receive damage reports, though Marilyn Kinoshita, agricultural commissioner for Tulare County said she suspects there could have been some damage to stone fruit due to the wind and rain.

Cherry harvest is almost under way and any rain on cherries at this time could destroy the crop.

Hail damage was seen in a pistachio orchard west of Tulare, where it appeared that heavy rain fell in some areas.

Damage was seen in 160 bearing acres of pistachios. Single nuts and clusters of nuts were knocked to the ground, as were leaves. Some of the leaves remaining on trees were also cut and torn, indicative of the reports of one-inch size hail in the area.

Wind damage in almonds was seen in the Wasco area where one grower reported about 300 trees in a 27-year-old block of almonds was lost because of the heavy winds. The loss was spread out over two separate storm events spread about two weeks apart.

Jenny Holtermann, who farms almonds in the Wasco area with her husband, Tim, said the wind damage will lead them to remove the 80-acre block of almonds after harvest later this year.

“We were considering possibly keeping it in production one more year before this storm hit,” Holtermann said. “Now with so many trees gone this season we’ll remove it after we harvest later this year.”

According to Holtermann, wind damage was relegated to mature almond orchards; younger orchards with smaller trees seemed to weather the storm better than the older orchards with the larger trees.

Aside from the Holtermann almond orchard west of Wasco, almond orchards east of town along Highway 46 were also damaged; work crews could be seen pulling downed trees to the edge of the orchard along the highway for removal.

Source: Todd Fitchette, Western Farm Press

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