Californian Almond, bloom report, March 2023
The 2023 California almond bloom has been one of the most unique blooms in the history of the almond industry. The initial start of the bloom was excellent, with sufficient bee activity, and the trees were slowly progressing through the various stages of development. Starting at the beginning of last week, a cold front moved into the state, dropping the nighttime temperatures to near or below freezing, accompanied by strong winds.
By Thursday, growers witnessed snow falling in many parts of the valley floor with accumulations of up to 6 inches (15 centimeters) in some areas in the northern part of the state. Rains have continued throughout the weekend until today. Showers are forecasted for parts of the state tomorrow, with the sun expected to break through from Wednesday through Sunday, albeit with very cool temperatures. In other words, the growers have not seen any bee activity for the last 6 days in the middle of the blooming period.
There are hundreds of microclimates throughout the state, so the stages of development of the orchards vary from one area to another. Growers report that some orchards are in full bloom, and others, like Butte Padre, are just getting started. The cold temperatures have slowed the bloom, resulting in one of the longest blooming periods in recent memory. Hopefully, there will be sufficient bee activity to pollinate the crop with the end of rainfall in the days and weeks to come.
It is part of the human condition the growers seek certainty, but with the 2023 almond bloom, the only certainty they have is in the knowledge they do not know the outcome of the bloom today. This has been one of the wettest and coldest blooms in a decade. However, there have been poor cold blooms in the past, most notably 2011, where the growers et record-breaking yields, and others where the yields fell well short of the annual average. Claims of the 2023 crop production being 30% lower than last year, or it will be over 3 billion pounds, are premature and pure speculation.