BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — February is going out with a bang. Hitting Kern County with rain, snow and high winds for the last few days is even impacting a big part of the county’s economy, its agriculture.
The most damage is being done to California almond farmers with the cold and wet weather during their growing season, between February and May.
Kern County Almond Farmer Jenny Holtermann is experiencing the brunt of this intense rainfall by the lack of bees pollinating almond blossoms.
“The bees aren’t really flying as much as they should, bees don’t really fly and get out of their boxes if it’s lower than about 55 degrees and it’s been in the 50s or lower for the last week or so,” Holtermann said.
According to Holtermann, prime pollination temperature is about 65 to 75 degrees and if the bees aren’t flying then they aren’t pollinating making this weather potentially detrimental for almond farmers.
“All of it at once can be kind of detrimental to our trees as well if they’re sitting in too much water, if the bee boxes are in water that can be very bad, and almonds have a very shallow root zone so if they’re in too much water and wind at the same time it can cause the trees to fall over,” Holtermann said.
However, Holtermann shares that she won’t know the worst of the impacts from the storm until she begins to harvest.
“The hard thing with storms like this at bloom time is that we don’t really know the impacts and that we won’t know the impacts for a matter of months,” Holtermann said.
However, for fourth-generation Farmer Jason Giannelli, the weather is something he has learned to work with. Giannelli recently planted alfalfa fields and the rain from the storm destroyed them.
Yet, he shares that it is something you learn to adapt to.
“We all prepare for it in a way we know where the water is going to flow so we make adjustments to things, […] it is extra work, but it’s work that I’ll take,” Giannelli said.
Holtermann also remains optimistic when it comes to the storm’s effect on her future almonds.
“We’re going to keep farming them and giving them the nutrients that they need and hope that they bounce back and do it again next year and the year after that and the year after that,” Holtermann said.