Farmers Brace for Freezing Weather

The yearly concern of losing citrus is back again for farmers, but, this time, it's coming much earlier than expected.

Since last Wednesday farmer Manuel Cunha says he's hardly slept. Every night, he's out in his orchard checking hose lines on every acre of his farm.
"Anywhere from about 1 a.m. until about 5:30 a.m. when it really gets the coldest sometimes," Cunha explained.

He works in a calculated way. Monitoring the temperature at night to make sure these oranges don't freeze, and, ultimately, explode from the inside out. He estimates the valley would lose $1 billion in crops if it gets too cold for too long.

But there are preventative measures famers are already taking to make sure that doesn't happen. "For us, there's only two real sources," Cunha said. "There's water and there is wind machines."

The water he runs keeps the trees warm, and, if necessary, he'll turn on a large fan to keep the air circulating. "This year they're saying a much more warmer with a lot of moisture and that would be good," Cunha said. "But you never know, so you've got to be prepared."

Cunha, like many other farmers, say he's concerned because the cold came two weeks earlier than normal.

But all he can do for now is keep a close eye on his 55 acres and hope for the best this winter.

Cunha expects to be monitoring his citrus for the next three to four months depending on when they're able to pick them.
Related Topics:
farmingorangefreezeagricultureFresno County
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