Farm Focus: Rain!

After the driest December on record in the history of California, we are jubilant that we’ve finally received some rain. Last week, we measured 3.5 inches of rain at the farm, and we needed it. Though the majority of our trees don’t have leaves this time of year and are not in an active growth phase, they still need water. They are highly susceptible to sunburn without enough moisture.The trees are the most at risk in the winter months when they are leafless and unprotected from the sun, which can be plentiful in Brentwood. If the cambium layer dries out as a result of dry weather and soil, scorching can occur. Sunburn creates cracks in the bark that leave the tree vulnerable to insect and pathogen damage, which of course we want to avoid at all cost. With much reluctance Farmer Al was preparing to irrigate our trees. In the 40 plus years, Frog Hollow has been in operation, we’ve only irrigated in winter months during 2015 in 5 year the drought. We hope to avoid any winter irrigation this year. Our average annual rainfall in Brentwood only averages about 11-13 inches, with the majority of rain coming in December, January, and February and sometimes in March. Winter rains also help us build fertility and regenerate our soil. We apply a lot of compost as a top dressing in the orchard rows during this time of year. The winter rains contribute to creating a healthy moist habitat at the interface between the soil and the compost which helps all of the microbes to thrive and move down into the soil profile. Once in the soil these microbes establish a relationship with our tree roots and provide the nutrients our trees will need come summer to grow our legendary stone fruit.