North State celebrates National Almond Day with early bloom

Feb 17, 2016 5:36 PM by News Staff

The almond blossom is in full bloom around the North State. It's one of the most beautiful times of the year.

National Almond Day, for local farmers in Butte County is time to take stock of this year's crop and get an idea of how much they will produce.

Greg Sohnrey's family has been farming in Butte County since his grandfather moved here from Kansas in 1919. He and his extended family grow almonds, rice, walnuts and prunes.

"It's really important to me,” he said, “farming is a way of life."

Almond trees in Durham are four years old, but the 33 acres of prime ground first had almond trees planted here in the 1950s. In that time, there have been good years and bad years.

"It depends on the world economy, the world markets, how strong our dollar is,” Sohnrey said. “The health of other countries, if they can afford to buy our product."

Sohnrey said this year's crop looks to be "average to good." North State growers might do better than some others.

"In Southern California you're going to see not a good crop,” he said. “They had a lot of damage in some of the orchards from the poor quality water and lack of water these last few years."

Before the almonds are harvested in the fall, the tree is already developing the buds that will turn into next year's crop. Sohnrey said the south didn’t get too much water this year.

"They didn't get the development they should have because of the lack of water," Sohnrey said.

The weather is perfect at the right time this year: sunny, warm conditions for the bees that pollinate the flowers. But, farmers would trade the ideal temperatures for some drought relief.

"When we have had rain on and off, we've set good crops, so I'd rather see us getting a little bit of rain," he said.

While the weather and the economy are always changing. This fifth generation farmer will continue feeding the world.

"I've had people offer to buy us out, but what would I do,” he asked. “This is my life, we pass it down generation-to-generation and we enjoy doing what we're doing. We can't think of anything else we'd want to do."

Take a drive, and your allergy medicine, through places like Durham and you can take in the almond blossoms for the next week or so.


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