Sunday, April 10, 2016

More Interesting Crop Sightings in the Imperial Valley

So I know I have spent quite a bit of blog time on my trip to California last month.  But I still have some pictures left, so show 'em if  you got 'em.  Like this orange here. What's up with that?  Disease? Bug bites? Dried up from drought?  Wrong, wrong and wrong.  It's supposed to look like that.  This is a Sumo Citrus.  It was developed in Japan as a cross between a Mandarin and Navel orange.  Took 30 years to develop, and they were introduced to the market here just a few years ago.  Now I had never heard of a Sumo Citrus, much less picked one off a tree and eaten it.  I read that it is called Sumo due to the "top knot" appearance at the top.  Like a Sumo Wrestler.  Clever.
So big deal, a bumpy orange, so what?  Well the loose skin makes it very easy to peel, which is one of the downsides of regular oranges.  But there's more.  They are extremely sweet.  It is said that a bad Sumo is better than a good orange.  Well that may be extreme, but they're right.  So don't be repulsed by appearance in the store.  Buy some and eat them.  You probably will want to keep them for all for yourself as they are expensive.  So that was an interesting crop sighting.
Driving around you can see all sorts of food growing.  We weren't sure what this was, but I guess some sort of spinach maybe?  How embarrassing for three agronomists not to know this.  But I'll bet it's good.  Someone reading will probably set me straight.  
Here is some young green and purple lettuce.
And a field of onions.  All this within a couple miles of each other. 
And a field of sugarbeets too.  Actually there are around 25,000 acres of sugarbeets in the valley.  You may recall the visit I made to sugarbeet plots back in a post on February 28, 2014.  I described how they are grown and harvested then.  We had the highest yields in those plots, and hope to do some more when they do fertilizer plots again.  Plus now we have a Retail Partner in the area.
But I had not seen a set-up like this, with mini irrigation pools at the end of the field.  They must be for irrigation, but how do they work?  Fortunately there were some workers in that onion field that was next to this beet field.  They were happy to explicare.
Here is a pool that has been drained as the water went into the field.  See all of those wooden stakes?
Well, when the pool is full and it is time to move the water into the field, someone moves the stake to the side which allows the water to go into the furrows between the row.  Now how cool is that?   Just move the stakes in the appropriate pool and let the water flow.  Close when through and fill it up again for next time.  So that was an interesting crop sighting.
And what's this across the road from the sugarbeets?  It's a field of recently harvested sugarcane of all things.  How could there be sugarcane here in Southern California?  Even sugarbeets seem kind of out of place, although they have been here over a hundred years.  But sugarcane is normally grown in Louisiana and Florida (and until this year, in Hawaii).  You know places with lots of rain.  Well there is lots of irrigation water. But it turns out that this is an experiment where the sugarcane is used for ethanol production, not sugar.      
But I never thought I would see sugarbeets and sugarcane growing right next to each other.  So maybe this will be yet another Imperial Valley crop.  Now that was a real interesting crop sighting.