Citrus grower welcomes icy temps

NEWMAN,Calif. (KFSN) -- The cold weather has us scrambling to find heavy coats and gloves to stay warm but many citrus growers welcome the change.

The dropping temperatures were welcome at Shiraz Ranch in Newman. The cold spell actually helps the Satsuma mandarins go from green to a bright orange color. Mandarin grower Barat Bisabri said, "I do like the cold this time of the season. I like that cold down to 34 degrees."

Bisabri is the state's biggest grower of the Satsuma Owari variety. He said, "It is the most flavorful of the Satsuma group."

Crews just began the short month long window when this tree-ripened fruit can be harvested. It is never picked and stored for later shipment. This is a high risk, high reward crop. Cold is fine as long as it's not freezing, foggy or rainy. Bisabri explained, "If we get a lot of rain-- even though we're praying for rain, we're in a drought, but the rain in the next three weeks is going to hurt me."

You can't pick the fruit if it is wet from rain or fog but the delta breeze helps. Cold winds cut through this ranch along Interstate 5 in Stanislaus County. Bisabri said this unique location and soil type helps give the fruit its sweet taste.

The mandarins are sold through the Family Tree label.

The leaf and stem packing style has grown in popularity over the years especially in Asian markets throughout the US and Canada.
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