Here's how to protect agriculture in freezing temperatures

Brianna Willis Image
Sunday, November 26, 2023
Here's how to protect agriculture in freezing temperatures
A multi-day freeze warning is in effect for parts of the San Joaquin Valley.

FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- A multi-day freeze warning is in effect for parts of the San Joaquin Valley.

Fresno County Farm Bureau CEO Ryan Jacobsen says the valley typically does not see temperatures below 32 degrees this time of year.

"Typically, those freezes hold off until December there, so the only concern with a freeze event this early is that the fruit isn't just quite prepared enough, particularly on the citrus side when it comes to these cold events," said Ryan Jacobsen, CEO Fresno Co. Farm Bureau.

Before the cold front moves in, Jacobsen says to keep the ground as weed-free as possible to allow the heat during the day to be captured and released during the overnight low.

Growers also have a few other tricks to warm up their orchards.

"But when it comes to the actual event itself, you're going to want to do a couple of things. It's gonna be running groundwater, trying to release that heat out into the orchard there, trying to boost those temperatures, in addition to that, those machines are going to be going, the wind machines help to stir up the air," said Jacobsen.

Plants that don't stand up to freezing, like tomatoes, can be protected by being covered.

"Use Frost cloth, which goes over the plant and protects the leaves, the roots, from frost as well, so the damage is diminished if there is damage," said JaNiece Bell with the Belmont Nursery.

JaNiece Bell from the Belmont Nursery says to avoid using plastic because it can make the plants colder and be sure to change your watering schedule.

"Mulching plants to protect the roots from frost is very important because the soil is shrinking and expanding over the day, and when it's shrinking when its that cold, it can break roots right off," said Bell.

As we also await this season's El Nino, Jacobsen says growers are ready to ensure they can still provide the food we all eat.

"The San Joaquin Valley represents a significant portion of the nation's plate, and so the effects that we have here have ramifications throughout the country, so farmers do extraordinarily well working through these types of events," said Jacobsen.

Bell says one way to know if the cold has damaged your plant is if you see it drooping, she says it's not from being dry, but the cold is likely damaging the structure of the leaves.

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