WINTERS (CBS13) — Wind and colder temperatures added insult to injury for almond growers who are still assessing the damage when highs and then lows froze blossoms.
It’s a big deal when you think about how almonds can only grow in five places on Earth. One almond orchard is a far cry from the fast-paced world Jasleen Guleti is used to.READ MORE: Blood Moon Total Lunar Eclipse Just One Of Mother Nature's Wonders In The Sky Right Now
“I was for 20 years in corporate America,” she said. “I worked for Hewlett Packard for many years in their HR department as a senior HR manager.”
Guleti now manages nearly 400 acres of almonds outside Winters.
“You are actually producing something,” she said. “You see it every year. It’s more fun, more rewarding.”
With reward always comes some risk, and this year, Mother Nature has not been kind.
“This year is potentially not looking good,” Guleti said.
Warmer temperatures forced an early almond blossom bloom, but when temperatures fell into the twenties for several days in late February, she says she lost 70 percent of her crop.READ MORE: Fire Damages Mobile Home In South Sacramento
“We tried whatever we could do,” Guleti said. “I was told to water the orchard and keep soil moist and keep temperatures down, but you never know what works.”
Lisa Shipley works with the Solano County Farm Bureau. Growers are concerned about drastic drops in temperatures this year.
“And then we have this wind which is not helpful either. We are working in conjunction with the ag commissioner,” Shipley said. “We have a survey out to the growers, so we are expecting something back which is more representative of the actual loss probably in the next week to ten days.”
Each almond tree can produce around 20,000 blossoms depending on size and variety. And each flower is receptive to pollen for about one to three days. So timing is everything.
The next month will be critical to ensure nuts that are forming do not face even more frost. In the meantime, Guleti still has to pay for bees, fertilizer and labor to prep for harvest.
“We do harvest because even if it’s 20 percent of the crop you have to get that nut. If it’s damaged or it’s brown inside. You got to get it off the tree,” she said.MORE NEWS: Man Dies After Being Shot In Stockton; Homicide Detectives Investigating
Fewer almonds, of course, drives up cost to consumers, but there is another reason to care about the almond bloom. USDA research shows a compound in the nectar and pollen of almond trees can reduce honeybee viruses and parasites that threaten bee health and colonies.