Saturday was a happy day for Ripon as the self-proclaimed Almond Capital of California celebrated the reason behind its moniker. The red-letter day marked the city’s 56th year celebrating the peak of the almond blooming season.
But while the town was happily marking the occasion with the annual parade and festival, almond farmers had a rude awakening in the morning. Many of the delicate blossoms were frozen, with some blossoms encapsulated in icicles. It was great for a photographic safari, but a big headache for the almond growers.
Temperatures have been in the upper 20s and low 30s in the last few days, prompting the farmers to turn on the misters or micro sprinklers in the orchards in hopes of raising the temperatures and avoid catastrophic loss come harvest time.
Unfortunately, the weather-related problem is far from over for the farmers. According to the forecast, temperatures will continue to dip into the low 30s in the next few days.
The multi-million dollar almond crop is consistently in the top 10 of San Joaquin County’s top crops. In 2015, it ranked No. 1 at $433M above milk, grapes, and walnuts, according to the San Joaquin County Agricultural Commissioner’s reports. In the 2016 figure, almonds went down to No. 3 at $349M, ranking below grapes, which nabbed the top post at $426M, followed by milk at $362M.
It has been the No. 1 crop for decades in the greater Ripon, Manteca, and Escalon areas.