Freeze threatens unique tropical farm

The challenge this week is to save crops you might not think can be grown locally.
December 4, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
Freezing temperatures and tropical fruit certainly don't go hand in hand but Valley farmers are always willing to take a gamble. The challenge this week is to save crops you might not think can be grown locally.

The hope is the bitter cold won't destroy the island paradise we found inside a plastic covered hoop house in Fresno County.

Pang Chang has been able to grow bananas, papaya, mangoes and guava inside where you can capture the sun's warmth to sustain the tropical trees.

Small farm advisor Michael Yang said of the temperatures inside, "Right now I'd say maybe about 75 or 78 right now. Yeah, pretty hot."

But if it hits 32 degrees inside the hoop house, Yang said the trees will suffer major damage.

Pang Chang's tropical farm spans one acre. It is an amazing sight but he's concerned about what it might look like after the weekend. "I'm very worried about the trees. I don't know, it depends on the weather. If it's not too cold it might survive."

The heat of the sun is captured in the ground. When the temperatures dip Chang irrigates his trees. The water then releases warmth from the ground and raises the humidity inside. He explained, "If we irrigate, put some water it will help a couple of degrees."

Yang added, "With a hoop house like this I think it will be able to sustain it but you'll see damage here and there as we walk along here."

Every degree at this point is crucial to the survival of the fruit trees. Chang said all he can do is hope. The tropical farm survived the first frosty morning with minor damage but the real test will come through the weekend.


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