Chilly weather welcomed by some farmers

FRESNO, Calif.

The storm which dumped snow in the mountains also sent a chill though Valley farms. Overnight, running water helped release the sun's warmth captured in the ground. Wind machines then moved the air around citrus groves to raise temperatures.

It dipped to 26.8 degrees at Peter Andersson's Sanger ranch but not long enough to cause too much concern over damage. Andersson said, "It's the first real frost of the season so we're wary and starting all our machines and running water."

Growers who raise crops like almonds, tree fruit and grapes welcome the low temperatures. Mitch Sangha grows grapes and cherries. He said, "I'm the opposite of an orange grower. We want the cold. They need to protect their crop. Our crop's not hanging out there."

Sangha hasn't been able to prune his Thompson grape vineyard in Sanger because the weather's been too mild. Sangha explained, "You want the canes to actually be dormant. I don't think they're dormant. We've got some green leaves here. We're December 19th they should all be on the ground."

Dormant trees and vines need a large amount of chill hours over 45 degrees so they can build up energy and push out blossoms and buds in the spring. Otherwise, you end up with a light crop.

Sangha said, "Yeah they need to chill out. They need to really go to sleep. The cold puts them to sleep."

Andersson added, "Chill hours are good. The tree fruit guys like that and we like that too for color development and balancing out the sugar acid in the fruit."

Still, Andersson will be up all night running water and wind machines to protect his citrus from the cold.

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