In the Heat of the Summer

Late July and August bring Lake County’s signature hot, hot temperatures to the farm. When it’s 98 degrees the olive trees stop growing in a kind of summer heat hibernation. Weed growth also slows down, which is good. The fields were completely mowed two weeks ago and are very dry and golden brown.

We still work in the cooler hours of the morning, mainly devoted to orchard care. We are doing quite a bit of suckering and light pruning. Some of the suckers are bigger than the new trees we put in a couple of months ago. Apparently we didn’t get to them last year and they’ve gotten a bit out of hand.

The other day, as we moved down the rows with our pruning shears, we found a nest with three eggs in it. We wondered whether the parents were hovering nearby, waiting for us to finish with their tree and move along.

Fruit fly prevention is on the calendar for July and August too. We’ve placed yellow sticky traps with olive fruit fly biological lures attached in about 50 places throughout the orchard. We use a good magnifying glass to identify fruit flies that might be present on the yellow cards. Many varieties of fruit flies stick, so we have to be sure before we spray with a molasses/biological control substance. If we let a fruit fly infestation get the better of us, the fruit can be too damaged to use for oil.

Last week 300 gallons of seaweed fertilizer rolled in to the farm. After many frustrating tries, we got the pumps working and fed the very fragrant brown liquid to our trees via the drip irrigation system. The organic fertilizer mixture provides the trees with nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. The bubble tank used to mix the 300 gallons of fertilizer with 400 gallons of water has been in heavy use in the County. We saw it just the other day at Mostin Orchards down the road, where David Mostin grows pears.

We were at David’s orchard operation, hearing him and Rachel Elkins, our local pomology farm advisor, talk about the many advantages of cover crops: in particular, increasing soil PH and organic matter in the soil. Dr. Volder from UC Davis added that over time cover cropping would help the soil to become more efficient in sequestering carbon

Now that it is so hot and dry we watch for any sign of fires in Lake County. We remember that last year at this time, the Mendocino Complex fire was raging out of control to the west and north of us and came within three miles of the farm. Already there have been a few fires in the County, but fortunately were put out quickly.

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July 2019 orchard.jpg
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Burn area 2019.jpg

The burn area on 175 is still a reminder of the fires in 2018.