Central Valley farmers keeping close eye on cold temperatures

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- For Central Valley farmers, keeping a close eye on the chilly temperatures is nothing new, but it's a task that can make all the difference for the variety of citrus they're growing.

In some cases, the cold weather is a good thing.

"That just cold enough temperature is really good to keep the food on the tree nice, healthy and tasting good," says Casey Creamer, President & CEO of Citrus Mutual.

But it can also pose problems..

"Citrus, in particular, is really vulnerable this time of year to frost damage," says Tulare County Farm Bureau Executive Director Tricia Blattler. "A lot of times, it can't be fully assessed until it reaches the packing house."

To help deal with temperature drops, growers have wind machines on stand-by.

"Usually around 29 degrees is when we start to raise an eyebrow and really make sure we do all we can to protect the crop," says Tulare County Farm Bureau President John Guthrie.

In Fresno County, some growers put the machines to work Wednesday morning, helping warm up the temperature by a few degrees.

"Growers will be looking at the sensitivity levels for their variety and what their concern levels are, risk tolerance and when that temperature gets below a market they set, it will turn on just for that period of time," Creamer said.

As growers make their rounds and prep, officials with the Tulare County Farm Bureau say they also have to be cautious of criminals who may want to target them or their equipment, especially with a recent uptick in armed robberies in rural communities.

"If you are a resident that lives near orchards or rural communities, keep your eyes and ears open," Blattler said. "You may really help save a farmer from personal harm or property theft and damage."
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