Citrus growers and gardeners keeping close eye on freeze

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Saturday, January 21, 2023
Citrus growers and gardeners keeping close eye on freeze
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Orange growers say they're watching the temperatures but their groves should hold up against the cold.

FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- This is the time of year when a few degrees can make a big difference for Valley citrus growers.

While the cold helps the flavor of the fruit, a prolonged freeze can damage the multi-billion-dollar crop.

Orange growers say they're watching the temperatures but their groves should hold up against the cold.

"This time of year with the sugar that we have in our fruit, I feel we're good at about 28 degrees for about four hours before we start seeing damage," said Keith Nilmeier, a local citrus grower.

The thicker the rind, the less likely the fruit is to freeze in a few hours of the high twenties.

There's greater concern for lemons and tangerines.

Still, that fine line in the forecast can also be crossed in your own backyard.

Tropical plants, like banana plants, are vulnerable in the frigid temperatures.

Jon Reelhorn from Belmont Nursery suggests putting a frost blanket on tropical plants and bringing them in closer to your home if possible.

During cold weather events,especially with all the recent rainfall, he says you should cut back on watering.

The rain is also helping citrus growers.

"All of that rain that we've had has left a lot of residual moisture in the air. You can see that when you look out towards the mountains and it's hazy," said Nilmeier.

The more moisture in the form of clouds and fog in the air, the slower the temperature near the crops drop and the better off the product will be.