Freezing temperatures cause some citrus damage


After enduring five consecutive nights of subfreezing temperatures, Valley citrus growers are now out assessing any possible damage to their crops.

"I haven't assessed any actual ice into the fruit, and that's what I look for at the time frost is actively happening," said citrus grower Keith Nilmeier.

Nilmeier spent sleepless nights running his water pumps and wind machines to protect his naval oranges from the low temperatures. "If I wasn't doing that, yeah, we would have been in the low 20's and we definitely would have had some fairly significant frost damage -- and that just takes away from the bottom line."

While Nilmeier hasn't seen any evidence of frost damage, other growers weren't so lucky. Inspectors at the Fresno County Ag Commission were slicing oranges, tangerines, and lemons to determine the severity of the freeze. Inspectors have detected some signs of frost damage, especially in the more vulnerable crops.

"Lemons and the tangerines are more susceptible to frost damage. The lemons of course have less sugar and a very thin rhine," said Fred Rinder, Fresno County Ag Commission.

The samples were randomly picked from various groves throughout the county. Inspectors say they haven't seen any significant amounts of damage that would trigger an alarm, but growers say they're not out of the wood just yet.

"There will be some damage out there, hopefully it's not too excessive. I don't think it's really going to affect the industry on a whole, so there will be a good supply of oranges to the consumer -- and not really inflate the price too bad," said Nilmeier.

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