This post was written by Kern County almond grower Jenny Holtermann and originally appeared on her blog, You Say All-mend, I Say Am-end. This is the third in a series of guest posts from Jenny about the pollination process.
The final and most gorgeous B of our pollination series is Bloom!
This time of year we see all kinds of photographers and city dealers coming out to any almond orchard trying to capitalize on the beautiful sight. It is my favorite time of year for just admiring the beauty our crop showcases and how lucky we are to enjoy this beauty every day. And I can't lie, it is a good time for almond farmers to take beautiful family pictures as well! How doesn't love a good photo op?
But bloom is not just a time for pretty photos, it's the time of year farmers look to a crop prediction. Bloom is a time when almond brokers stop selling and almond buyers stop buying. They patiently wait to see what the bloom set will be. Bloom set is the predictor of how many flowers are viable for almond production and an estimate to how many pounds of almonds the trees will produce this year. To a farmer, bloom is when every one weighs in on who is going to have the biggest crop or who's bloom was too late or too early.
Next to harvest, bloom really is the most important time of the year. If it rains during bloom, we could have mold build up on the flowers which would kill the flower and potential of the nut. If we get a big wind storm during bloom, it could blow off all our flowers leaving nothing to be pollinated. If we get temperatures too hot, bloom will happen too fast and won't give those bees enough time to pollinate all the flowers. If we get temperatures too cold, the bees will be unhappy and stay in the hives. What is perfect? Sunny afternoons between 60 and 80 degrees.
So really, farmers are praying for the perfect conditions during bloom. The bees will arrive when the orchard is about 10-15% bloom. This will give the bees time to get acclimated to the orchard prior to getting to work with full bloom.When the orchard is in full bloom we want those bees to know where they are going and to be able to work most efficiently. Those flowers won't be open forever before they decide to start making an almond.
You had no idea an almond had so many steps did you? I hope this pollination series helped you to understand why those blooms are so important and why we need to save those bees! Make sure to take some time to stop and enjoy the almond bloom!
Until Next Time,