Valley citrus growers battle freezing temperatures

It was another sleepless night for Valley citrus growers. They are taking extra precautions on these very cold nights and are up monitoring the temperatures through most of the night.
December 5, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
It was another sleepless night for Valley citrus growers. They are taking extra precautions on these very cold nights and are up monitoring the temperatures.

The fans were going all night at one Clovis citrus grove in the hopes of adding a few degrees that could make the difference in whether a crop has damage. Wednesday night was the first of several critical nights for citrus growers. One of the tools crews used as the temperature drops is burning peach pits. The burning pits are placed around the orchard so the heat can fight against the cold night air.

It is important for the growers to protect their delicate crop as about half of California's citrus fruit is still on the tree. The citrus industry in California is a $2 billion business. If the crops are severely damaged in cold weather it could mean a small crop, and fewer jobs for those who pick and pack this fruit.

Farmers also drive around their properties to monitor the temperature -- turning on wind machines to mix some warmer air around the trees. They also use irrigation systems. The water flow can bring temperatures up 2-3 degrees, which can make all the difference during a hard freeze.

The freezing overnight temperatures will last for several days, so growers will be on the offense all night long -- and then back to the usual farming during the day.

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