Drastic measures taken to save citrus trees

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Without enough water to bring all of their produce to market, a Valley citrus company has taken extreme measures just to keep some trees alive. (KFSN)

Without enough water to bring all of their produce to market, a Valley citrus company has taken extreme measures just to keep some trees alive.

Dense, green canopies in a Squaw Valley orchard in Fresno County were quickly cleared way. Never mind a crop - large branches were sawed off in an attempt to keep the trees alive this summer.

Booth Ranches general manager Dave Smith said, "Anytime you lose something that's productive it's sad." Smith showed us how the trees then got a fresh coat of paint. "The second thing is we paint it white with a diluted latex paint and that keeps the tree from sunburning. Trees, funny enough, are just like people. They will sunburn."

So painting has replaced picking in this orchard. The ranch faced zero water allocation from Friant Dam for the second straight year.

Smith hoped limited well water will be enough to keep the pruned back trees alive. He said, "So if we're using two and quarter-acre feet we could get by with less than a half-acre feet, maybe down to a quarter-acre feet which is a significant reduction in water use."

Every drop counts. A tensiometer showed how much moisture is in the ground.

Growers have been forced to deal with year four of the drought. Jay Gillette of Gillette Citrus said, "A lot of strategies, but if there's no water you just can't grow anything."

Growers in drought-stricken Australia cut back and painted trees. They were able to get back into full production three years later.

Some of the white painted trees resembled art in a museum, but in reality they were just the latest exhibits in the California drought.

Related Topics:
droughtwatercalifornia waterSquaw ValleyFresno County
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