Freezing temperatures have growers working overtime

FRESNO, Calif.

"If we weren't doing frost protection, yes, we would be seeing probably some damage," said Nilmeier.

That protection hasn't come cheap. Nilmeier uses wind machines to prevent his oranges from frost damage. The machines run on 15 gallons of propane fuel an hour. "I've got 6 of them out there and we've been averaging about 8 hours of wind machine running per night. So I'm looking between 16 and 17,000 dollars a night," said Nilmeier.

In addition, Nilmeier uses three water pumps to keep the air around the grove moist. The pumps are powered by diesel fuel - each one uses about 50 gallons a night.

"So you add the two together and we're looking at somewhere between 2,000 and 2,200 dollars a night," said Nilmeier.

The citrus industry is estimated to be worth more than $342 million in Fresno County according to the Agriculture Department. The County's citrus industry loss more than $117 million in the last major freeze in 2007, a financial tragedy growers don't want to see again.

"For those communities that rely heavily on the citrus harvest and if that goes away, they're income is gone," said Fred Rinder with the Fresno County Agriculture Department.

Which is why growers are doing everything they can to keep their losses minimal. "Mother nature is going to do what she wants. All we can do is use the tools that we have and technology that we have and go out and battle with her and do the best we can and hope that that works," said Nilmeier.

If temperatures plunge to the low-twenties, Nilmeier said he'll set these bins of peach pits on fire to heat up his orange grove - a last resort he hopes not to use.

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