Crops withstand weather extremes | capitalpress.com

The weather in California so far this summer has been a study in extremes, though most crops seem to be taking the fluctuations in stride.

A brief heat wave in early June gave way to milder temperatures and then a four-day rainstorm June 23-27 that would have been impressive even in February. The system dumped as much as 8 inches of rain in parts of Shasta County, said Jim Mathews, the National Weather Service’s lead forecaster here.

Now the summer heat has returned, with afternoon highs in the northern Sacramento Valley expected to remain in triple digits through most of July, according to AccuWeather’s long-range forecasts.

“It looks like we’re in for a prolonged heat wave,” Mathews said, noting that temperatures were expected to peak at 106 in Sacramento and 108 in Redding.

The federal Climate Prediction Center anticipates the summer will be warmer than normal throughout the West, where drought conditions are expected to persist. Precipitation is expected to be below normal in the Pacific Northwest and far Northern California, according to the agency.

The conditions come after low pressure over the northeastern Pacific Ocean produced a soaker that set records for this time of year in some areas. The 0.11 inches that fell at the Sacramento airport on June 25 was enough for a record for the date, Mathews said. Shasta Dam recorded more than 3 inches from June 23-26, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation spokeswoman Sheri Harral said.

“Basically we are operating everything as normal,” Harral said, adding the storm didn’t prompt additional releases from Shasta Lake. The lake was at 80 percent of average storage for this time of year as of June 28.

Crops have withstood the conditions. For instance, the rain was a benefit for olive trees, providing “a little refreshment to knock the dust off the trees,” said Adin Hester, president of the Olive Growers Council of California in Visalia.

Not enough rain fell in the Central Coast region to bother strawberries, said Chris Christian, vice president of marketing for the California Strawberry Commission in Watsonville.

“No one was expecting any real impact from it,” she said. “Now that we have unseasonably warm weather, we expect that production will pick up here quite quickly.”

Likewise, the heat could hasten development of nut crops, said Joe Connell, a University of California Cooperative Extension farm advisor in Chico.

“With almonds being used to a hot, dry climate, it probably will advance hull split, and it could accelerate pest populations,” Connell said. “As long as the growers irrigate well … we think we can handle the heat.”

2012-2013 rainfall totals

Here are the June and seasonal rainfall totals and comparisons to normal for selected California cities, according to the National Weather Service. The season ends June 30.

Redding: Month 1.58 inches (normal 0.67 inches); season 28.46 inches (normal 34.6 inches)

Eureka: Month 0.43 inches (normal 0.72 inches); season 32.31 inches (normal 40.3 inches)

Sacramento: Month 0.22 inches (normal 0.21 inches); season 15.2 inches (normal 18.52 inches)

Modesto: Month 0.07 inches (normal 0.12 inches); season 9.09 inches (normal 13.11 inches)

Salinas: Month 0.04 inches (normal 0.09 inches); season 8.97 inches (normal 12.83 inches)

Fresno: Month, trace inches (normal 0.21 inches); season 5.67 inches (normal 11.5 inches)

Reservoir levels

Here are the percentages of capacity for California reservoirs and comparisons to their seasonal averages as of midnight June 27, according to the Department of Water Resources California Data Exchange Center:

Trinity Lake: 75 percent of capacity; 86 percent of average

Shasta Lake: 66 percent; 80 percent

Lake Oroville: 73 percent; 88 percent

New Bullards Bar Reservoir: 77 percent; 89 percent

Folsom Lake: 69 percent; 81 percent

New Melones Reservoir: 52 percent; 83 percent

Millerton Lake: 78 percent; 98 percent

Pine Flat Reservoir: 37 percent; 53 percent

Lake Isabella: 16 percent; 29 percent

San Luis Reservoir: 22 percent; 32 percent

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