Valley's valuable almond crop damaged by freeze

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The Valley's valuable almond crop is now forming so growers can actually see how much of a yield they'll get. In many instances, they're not liking what they see.

"That should have a ton of nuts up there," said grower Ryan Jacobsen.

But the tops of the almond trees in Jacobsen's Easton orchard are bare. Many nuts have fallen to the ground.

The crop set illustrates damage done during a rare freeze during the February bloom.

"You can really see that defining line. If you kind of walk the rows here you can see where right above that it was too cold. Right below that, we did just enough to save those nuts."

Growers ran sprinklers during the freeze to release the ground's warmth. As a result, the bottom and middle of some of Jacobsen's trees showed a heavy almond set.

"So this is healthy. This is good. This is what they look like this time of year," said Jacobsen.

Valley growers we talked to estimated crop losses between 10 and 30%.

"Industry wide it's hit and miss as a result of the freeze damage that we saw," said Jacobsen.

Jim Zion from the Meridian Nut Company says certain areas were definitely hit much harder than others.

"It seems to be the farther north you got the worse it was. Madera all the way up to I've heard some of our growers in Arbuckle and Chico got hit very hard. Maybe 35-30% damage."

But Zion believes, overall, the industry hit will be on a much smaller scale.
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