Windshield Views: July 18, 2013

Garlic! Growers have turned off the water. The stems are drying, nodding and folding over. They rattle in the hot summer thermals.

This time of the year, the roads are littered with bits of paper-thin skins that have skittered out of transport truck cages. The translucent scraps swoop and swirl as they are lifted by traffic.

As you drive down 99, somewhere between Manteca and Madera, you will smell a garlic processing plant in full swing. And if it is just before lunch, you will long for a plate of spaghetti or a strong salsa or some chimmichuri sauce as your stomach begins to growl.

Windshield Views: July 18, 2013

The crucible of change isn’t always easy to witness.

My trip through the Tulare Lake bottoms revealed shuttered dairies and a desolate landscape. 

Westside crops were obviously suffering from drought-deficit-irrigation. Proud corn that should have been broad-leafed, glossy-green, and 12-foot tall, was spindly and dull. Cotton that should have been straining to the sky and as high as my shoulder was shorter than my waist and going into “Cut-out,” which is when environmental conditions tell the cotton plant to produce its last boll. The last creamy flowers were beacons through the uppermost leaves.

We need our policymakers to resolve the water supply crisis. But, I doubt that will happen in my lifetime. A few years ago, I was told that California Central Planners wanted to eliminate a certain percentage of growers in order to have water to support urban growth projections. I didn’t believe that statement then. However, as I drive the fringes, the areas not commonly seen, I see where the dismantling of Ag has begun. I believe it now.


Windshield Views: May 07, 2015

OK! Folks! Weird weather report! Blue norther in Salinas – in May! This simply does NOT happen at this time.
Wet lettuce in the field, wet broccoli in the field is not good. Prepare for higher prices.
Wet wine grapes at this stage? Prepare for interesting wine!

Windshield Views: May 14, 2013

The Central Coast crops look great!
The first lettuce crop has been picked. However, because of heavy December storms, planting was all done at once so that early planting time was compressed.  A lot of produce was cut at the same time and the prices are horrible.
As we slide into the peak of the vegetable season after the “Turn”, the second plantings are starting to increase. Each day, a few more are added, and the planting week with the most plantings will be in late July.
It is a “buggy year” in vegetables with Corn ear worm, Aphids, and Army worm. The broccoli/cauliflower growers are struggling with Cabbage maggot, which is an interesting insect. It is attracted to sulfur compounds in the Cole crops. The adult lays its eggs at the soil surface and the hatching maggot feeds upon the young, tender roots of transplants. You can see how the certain flights hit certain plantings. Grapes are in bloom. It is not 100%, yet. Hot spots of bugs, such as Orange tortrix, have occurred in the wine grapes, too. So far, Powdery mildew pressure is light.
And we are seeing early Stone fruit: the vibrant colors and scents of Cherries, Apricots, Peaches, and Nectarines at the Farmer’s Markets. Cobblers, crisps and pies! Yum-ola!

It was an “I-am-so-lucky” kinda day

I helped a grower with RWQCB mandated photodocumentation of the Salinas River, which was a worhtless exercise – but, I don’t want to discuss that.

Rather, I want to talk about the romance of farming. The mica in the soil that causes sandy soil to sparkle. Or what it is like to get reacquainted with sclerotinia lettuce drop and cabbage maggot and those pesky little weeds: Lambsquarters, Russian thistle, Shepherd’s purse, Fiddle neck, Kochia, and Pigweed.

I saw the “Eliminator” which is a piece of equipment that strings together different tillage implements to reduce the number of passes over a field. These eliminators are Gi-normous and take a lot of fuel: 18 gallons per acre to run (Total fuel consumption per year, to produce a cool season vegetable? About 52gl/acre).

And today, the light on the Santa Lucias stretched them out against the sky! They TOWERED today and I felt minuscule standing in the field with my measly, little, inadequate GPS camera.

Reposted from May 01, 2013 11:03pm Facebook Post