Citrus growers endure cold temps that threaten crops

TULARE, Calif. (KFSN) -- Although the weather cooperated for citrus growers Wednesday night and Thursday morning, due to good cloud cover and moist conditions, the moisture also made for some wet fruit.

California Citrus Mutual says it forced some growers to turn on their wind machines early in the morning to prevent what's called ice mark.

They say growers will turn on the wind machines again Thursday night, and some will run water in the groves, in an attempt to raise temperatures and prevent freeze damage.

"It does get back to duration, the duration is a key factor," said CCM's Alyssa Houtby. "When temperatures are below that 27-degree mark for any length of time, six to eight hours, that's when we get concerned."

The National Weather Service in Hanford has a hard freeze warning in effect through Friday morning.

Citrus Mutual expects warmer weather to return in time for Christmas.

"Interestingly enough, when you look back was that week before Christmas that we got that hard freeze," Houtby said.

But Houtby says they will continue to monitor temperatures through January.

After all, a major freeze happened in January of 2007, and as of now, only 25 to 30 percent of the citrus crop has been harvested.

Oranges were Tulare County's second most valuable crop in 2016, at $838,593,000.
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