Growers use technology to protect fruit

FRESNO, Calif.

From his office at Fowler Packing, CFO Jim Bates was able to monitor the temperatures at a mandarin orange grove in in Dinuba. The software also allows him to control wind machines remotely.

"The temperatures are just right there at that level where damage can occur if they're not protected," said Bates. The computer program also makes it possible to automate fans so they turn on when temperatures reach a preset level.

Bates said some mandarin growers have already reported damage related to the freezing temperatures. According to growers, fruit that's already ripe has a higher sugar content that helps protect it, but it's the later crop that's causing concern.

"Some of our later maturing mandarins are providing the greatest amount of heartburn because that antifreeze is not there; it's probably about two degrees more susceptible to a frost event," said Bates.

While growers use fans and water to bring down temperatures, they're also working through the day to get ripe fruit off the trees.

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