Cold weather causes valley Ag damage

FRESNO, Calif.

The sun brought afternoon warmth on Monday but it couldn't undo the damage done on Chia Lee's Fresno farm.

Lee said his greenhouses and small plastic tunnels can protect his crops to about thirty degrees. "Oh I feel hopeless for those because temperatures go very low."

Even with the plastic covering Lee found most of his bittermelon crop burned by the cold weather. He said the plants which kept some of its green color will be stunted with very few vegetables. "The bittermelon I estimate about 20-thousand for those for the loss after harvesting those."

A check of the cherry tomatoes was just as bad. Lee sells his vegetables at farmer's markets in the Bay Area but it doesn't look like he'll have much of a cherry tomato crop.

The cold weather also damaged some almond blossoms. But it was warm enough on Monday to bring bees out to pollinate the blossoms.

Fresno County Deputy Ag Commissioner Fred Rinder said it's too early for almond growers to determine the extent of their crop damage. Rinder explained, "It's gonna be a few days before start seeing whether the little nutlets will turn black and drop and I'm sure that's going to vary from location to location."

Rinder said growers were very worried about another storm headed our way. The cold and rain has kept bees from their duties. Blossoms which don't get pollinated don't produce almonds.

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