How farmers are using greenhouses to protect their tropical fruit from the cold

The Valley might not seem like a tropical paradise but some farmers have been able to grow pineapple, guava and papaya.

But recent cold winter conditions have put some of those crops in jeopardy.

Without a plastic covering, Fresno farmer Bentley Vang says his lemongrass would die in the cold.

To protect against the freezing temperatures, Vang planted several crops inside of greenhouses. One had several papaya trees full of fruit.

"It's very warm in here... I think something like 80, 85, 90," said Vang.

Some of the papaya was already ripening while others have a ways to go.

The overnight cold burned several leaves and damaged several pieces of fruit that normally would be dark green.

But everything inside, even the pineapples, were doing okay.

Outside, it's a different story. Some of Vang's snowpeas showed frost damage.

Plastic protection is common at many farms which grow winter vegetables.

"They need to be covered or they will die," Vang said.

Tony Bounthapanya was talking about a popular seasoning herb.

"Some of the herb that they brought from Laos because in Laos it's always hot and humid," Bounthapanya said.

The days may be warm enough to draw bees to the mustard plants.

But at night the freezing cold will return so the plastic doors must be rolled shut again to provide frost protection.

Inside those greenhouses, farmers say it still drops to the fifties inside.

But during the day - even in winter - it is easy to work up a sweat just by walking around.
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