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Pictorial Guide to Fruit and Nut Crops Grown in Merced County

Merced County is a great place to take pictures of agriculture.  With a little practice you can identify the fruit and nut crops grown in our area.

Click this link to view examples of the trees discussed below.

Pictorial Guide to Fruit and Nut Crops Grown in Merced County

Launch Image Gallery: Pictorial Guide to Fruit and Nut Crops Grown in Merced County                              

Almond and apricot trees have white blossoms. Apricots are the first commercial
orchard crop to bloom and they are followed closely by almonds. They both have a
rough brown trunk and will have several large branches trained to create a large
spherical shape. Commercial apricot orchards, are common on the Westside but are rare
on the east side of the county.

Peaches and nectarines being the same species (a nectarine is simply any variety of
peach without fuzz) bloom next and have two types of blossoms. Some have showy
pink blossoms and some varieties have inconspicuous reddish-pink flowers that are so
small that you need to walk up to them to see their colors. We call these non-showy
types. You can tell the non-showy types are blooming because the whole orchard will
have a dark reddish color. Peaches are shorter than almonds and are trained to an
open vase shape with a flat top.

Some cling peach orchards are pruned to a cordon
system similar to the wine grapes in the area. This system, while expensive to
develop, allows the tree to be pruned, thinned and harvested without ladders – A
feature that both the farmer and workers like very much!

Plum trees bloom with the peach trees, but have compact white blossoms. The
trees are shorter than peaches and have very few side branches coming off the upright
scaffolds. The older trees will have a gnarled trunk.  There are very few plums in Merced County.

Prune trees look just like plums since they are so closely related. Most of the prunes
are southeast of Merced and on the Westside of the county.

Walnuts are much larger than the fruit trees and have white smooth bark down to
the graft union where the Persian walnut scion wood meets the dark rough California
Black Walnut rootstock.

Pistachios are found in the southern portion of Merced County as you get near Chowchilla.  They look a little like a small walnut tree but are planted closer together and the leaves are different.

All of our fruit and nut trees along with many of the grapes
are grown on rootstock, which are resistant to soil pests and diseases such as
nematodes, drown and root rot, oak root fungus and others. This allows the farmer
to grow imported varieties without chemicals to kill these pests. Walnuts are windpollinated
and do not need showy flowers to attract insects. In fact, walnuts have
separate male flowers (catkins), which release the pollen and female flowers
(pistillate) to catch the pollen.

Kiwifruit (a few in north Merced County) will resemble grapes because they are a vine.  They will be trained on a trellis that is about six feet tall.

A few blueberry fields can be found in North Merced County on very sandy soils.

There are no commercial apple or pear orchards in Merced.  We have only a couple Asian pear blocks.