Long Night for Citrus Growers

December 18, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
It's been a sleepless night for many local citrus growers keeping a constant watch on the frigid weather. About half of the Valley's orange crop is still on trees. Orange growers are hopeful that their crops won't see any damage but they're prepared for the worst. These bins of peach pits are ready to burn when the temperature drops too low. They're part of a three-pronged approach to fighting off freeze.

The first line of defense for Fresno County grower Keith Nilmeier's orchards is water. A steady stream of it has been pouring through the groves overnight. The steam is keeping the trees warmer.

When it dips below 30 degrees in the field, Nilmeier turns to his fans, they'll give him another couple degrees. But it's expensive; $30 dollars an hour for each fan blowing

Constant vigilance is key and it's been a long night for growers

Of course all this effort is to avoid another freeze like in January 2007 when the Valley's citrus industry lost hundreds of millions of dollars worth of crops, devastating the local economy.

It looks like, for now, the farmers are optimistic about this battle.

The peach pits are the last night of defense for Nilmeier, he burned a couple bins overnight near the fans so the fans could blow the hot air throughout the grove.

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