Warmer temperatures help farmers assess freeze damage

FRESNO, Calif.

"It expands and bursts, these vesicles like I'm doing to do with my knife, you'll get a lot of that juice roaming around in here," citrus grower James McFarlane said.

Citrus grower James McFarlane hasn't seen a great deal of freeze damage in his navel oranges so he remains optimistic. McFarlane said some of his groves that were not protected by wind machines were more damaged compared to those that were protected.

"There are some exposed areas out in what we call the flatlands, which we are kind of in right here away from the hills, that really got nuked and it's easy to walk away from already," McFarlane said.

Fresno County Ag commissioner Les Wright says his inspectors have already rejected 90 tons of citrus due to freeze damage.

"There have been a couple of packing sheds that have closed their doors for a few days to actually get a better handle on the freeze damage and they're trying their very best to provide consumers with the best fruit," Wright said.

Some people enjoy the warmer afternoons but the sun is also helping speed along the inspection process.

"The warm weather will make the damaged fruit show its damage sooner," Wright said.

McFarlane saw temperatures dip down to 25 degrees in this grove. He says his oranges and mandarins prefer the seasonal cold instead the brief warm-up.

"It's probably not optimal. You'd rather kind of keep it in Mother Nature's storage," McFarlane said.

Fresno County Ag commissioner les wright says the citrus industry will have a better handle on the extent of the damage in another week.

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