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Do you always need sunshine and heat to grow produce?
I have always been taught that to grow produce you need lots of sunshine and warm temperatures. Not always so, according to an article in the Capital Press. Capital Press is an independent newspaper published every Friday covering agriculture in the West and across the country. Experts say that many fruit and nut trees in California have already achieved the chilling hours — or hours below 45 degrees. And that they’ll need to blossom and set a good crop. Certain nuts that need to chill out are pistachios and walnuts.
According to the experts, trees need a certain number of hours under 45 degrees before they’ll begin to store heat and start to blossom. For example, some types of walnut trees need about 700 hours under 45 degrees. And in Tehama County, CA, the trees have already seen about 690. As the article states, “growers use a scoring formula on the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources website that factors in how many hours an area spent under 45 degrees as well as how warm it got during the day or how cold it got at night”. To get a good crop, the article explains that you need 400 chilling hours in December and 400 in January to get the 800 needed.
Deciduous Trees and their sustainability in Winter
Deciduous trees are shedding trees and shrubs that lose their leaves seasonally. These trees go dormant in the cold winter to protect itself from the cold. The plant needs to stay dormant while the weather is freezing. And also then know how soon after it gets above freezing it can safely start growing. Interestingly, the plant has a process, refined over millions of years of evolution that tells it when to start growing in the spring and that process accounts for the amount of above freezing temperature (chilling hours) it needs.
However not every blossom does well in the cold. Mid-February is blossom time for almond nut trees in California, but the cold and rainy weather that could come this month could interfere with bee activity. Bees need temperatures above 55 degrees, low winds and no rain to get busy. And apparently the wet weather causes infections to the flowers which give illness to the bees.
You can trace the almond tree’s origins back to the Mediterranean. This tree loves warm sunny weather. Sun is definitely a crucial element for the tree to grow and produce fruit. The almond tree is of a medium size. It is deciduous and can grow up to 20 to 25 feet tall. It bears dark green leaves and the colors of the blossom vary from white to pale pink. When the flowers have blossomed the fruits start to appear which become the almonds.
The next time you enjoy a bag of mixed nuts, you will have a little more knowledge about where they came from!