What’s Growin’ On?

Modesto Corn Fields

Modesto Area Agriculture

Welcome to What’s Growin’ On! Let us introduce ourselves – we are Wayne Zipser and Tom Orvis of the Stanislaus County Farm Bureau. But we are much more than that! Wayne grew up in the Ceres area on a family farm that grew grapes, peaches and almonds. He currently farms almonds in the eastern part of Stanislaus County as well as being the Executive Manager for Farm Bureau. Tom grew up on the family cattle ranch north of Oakdale. Tom currently is still involved in the family cattle operation and dabbles in his inlaws almond farming. He is currently the Governmental Affairs Director for Farm Bureau. Previously, we hosted the Saturday morning Farm Show on AM840 – The Patriot.

We will attempt to lead you on a monthly adventure of agriculture in Stanislaus County and try to explain to you the things you see as you travel the freeways and back roads. We’ll try to explain why certain things are happening at certain times of the year and how farming plays a role in your daily life. Our motto: If you eat, you’re involved in Agriculture!

In February the annual farming cycle starts to awaken from its winter slumber. The orchards start humming with bees brought in from places as far away as Minnesota, Montana and Texas. You’ll notice the out-of state plates on flatbed trucks with small forklifts on trailers and even big semi trucks with the black netting covering their load. The bees are placed out at an average of two hives per acre to pollinate our almond trees.

That sweet, floral smell of the white almond blossoms signifies the renewal of another season for farmers and maybe the renewal of allergy season for some people! They can be particular about their working conditions – seldom venturing out in the wet weather and in anything cooler than 55 degrees F. Their work is usually done when the blossoms fall from the trees. If you get too close to pollinating bees, you may even exterminate a few on your windshield – leaving the telltale yellow streak! What is that yellow streak? It is the pollen that was headed back to the hive to make honey!

Almonds are the second largest agricultural product in Stanislaus County, producing nearly 200 million pounds – ranking third in the state! California grows 80% of the world’s almonds and last year farmers produced a crop of over 1.5 billion pounds! Do you remember the old advertising slogan for Blue Diamond Growers – “A can a week is all we ask!”? Those were real almond farmers standing in the mountain of almonds! That picture was taken at Blue Diamond in Salida! If you ate a can a week (6oz.) that would make 4 Billion cans – enough for you and nearly 77 million friends to eat a can a week!

Our local crop is consumed right here in California and in excess of 90 different countries around the world such as places as far away as Japan, China, India, Germany and Afghanistan! Have some fun and venture north of the Stanislaus River to Ripon at the end of February for the annual Almond Blossom Festival. It is quite a fun family event!

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