SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — While California’s drought is causing concern for farmers for another year, the biggest concern for one farmer has been how cold it hasn’t been.
Farming for six generations, the Waltz family knows their crop lives and dies by what the weather does.
“All we can do is prepare for the worst and hope for the best. And trying everything we can to make it work along the way,” said almond farmer Joe Waltz.
The drought has been one of the bigger challenges for the family in the fields in recent years. Lately though, the concern has been temperatures, and how relatively warm they’ve been at night.
“I mean great to work in but not for the crops,” he said.
Crops like prunes, apricots and almonds in his fields need a deep sleep in cold weather before they start to produce a nut. They need chilling hours between 45 and 32 degrees.
But the pleasant weather lately has meant fewer chilling hours this winter. The fewer the hours, the weaker the tree.
Waltz says if a tree is weak, it will do everything it can do survive. That means prioritizing its own health, and producing crops takes a backseat.
“If it’s not strong enough to keep the number of nuts that are bloomed and pollinated, then it will just drop them off the tree,” he said. “And you’ll end up with less of them out there or they can be smaller in size.”
Waltz says it’s too early to worry quite yet, because there is still another month of cold temperatures before the sleepy trees will wake and bloom.
“All we can do is sit back and hope we catch up on our hours, and hope we catch up. All we can do is rely on Mother Nature we have no control over it,” he said.