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How are Valley orchards faring after wet winter? It’s too early to tell

Orchards sit submerged at the edge of Tulare Lake near Corcoran.
Kerry Klein
Orchards sit submerged at the edge of Tulare Lake near Corcoran.

Listen to this report in the player on this page. Read the transcript below.

ELIZABETH ARAKELIAN, HOST: In agriculture, water is essential. But too much can do damage. As KVPR’s Kerry Klein reports, crop specialists are still assessing what the recent wet winter brought for the trees that are still standing.

KERRY KLEIN: First, there are the pests. Elizabeth Fichtner is a farm advisor with the UC Cooperative Extension in Tulare County. She says one big pest is phytophthora, a mold that can cause oozing sores on tree bark.

ELIZABETH FICHTNER: They produce motile spores. And they swim on top of the water’s surface. And their swimming is completely unimpeded if you have standing water.

KLEIN: Even for fields that didn’t flood, weather that was too cold for bees delayed pollination. And rain delayed access to the fields for routine maintenance. Like removing shriveled almonds known as mummies.

FICHTNER: Those mummy nuts, they can serve as a source of  navel orangeworm. That’s probably the No. 1 insect pest of almonds.

KLEIN: Fichtner says we may not know the full effects on fruits and nuts until sometime in 2024.

For KVPR News, I'm Kerry Klein.

Kerry Klein is an award-winning reporter whose coverage of public health, air pollution, drinking water access and wildfires in the San Joaquin Valley has been featured on NPR, KQED, Science Friday and Kaiser Health News. Her work has earned numerous regional Edward R. Murrow and Golden Mike Awards and has been recognized by the Association of Health Care Journalists and Society of Environmental Journalists. Her podcast Escape From Mammoth Pool was named a podcast “listeners couldn’t get enough of in 2021” by the radio aggregator NPR One.