Farmers fight freezing crops for a second night


Temperatures plunged to dangerously low levels over night, but it didn't last long and growers think they survived, but they face another challenge tonight.

Action News caught up with Madera County citrus farmer Jeff Hallenberg before dawn. He had been hustling non stop to keep his crop warm enough.

"Zero -- 24 hours no sleep at all," said Hallenberg, "It's been a long 24 hours trying to keep these oranges from freezing. "

He used wind machines to keep the cold air from getting a grip on the grove.

"Sitting somewhere between 24 and 25 degrees and that's a problem. Anything below 26 or 27 is going to be a real problem," said Hallenberg.

In Fresno County, citrus grower Keith Nilmeir kept warming fires going through the night. Temperatures in his grove dipped below freezing, but not for long. "We had a spike down to 28 throughout the night, but at 5:30 it was still sitting on 30, so that's a good thing."

Despite ice on some trees the loss from one cold night isn't expected to be a major problem for growers.

"I don't think it's going to be enough right now to really significantly affect the whole market overall, but some growers it's gonna hurt em, some growers it may get a little bit and some growers may get nothing."

But growers are expected to be up again tonight, trying to keep things just warm enough to head off more damage.

It will take up to two weeks to determine the extent of the damage, but growers are optimistic they will get through this cold spell.

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