Citrus growers keep an eye on cold temperatures

Valley citrus growers were on high alert, keeping a watchful eye on the falling temperatures.

"Cold temperatures this time of year can be detrimental," said Ryan Jacobsen with the Fresno County Farm Bureau.

On Thursday morning temperatures dipped to the upper 20s. Farmers were doing what they can to keep their orchards warm. Some burned peach pits, while others ran water to release the grounds warmth and others use wind machines to move warm air around.

However, California Citrus Mutual says temperatures didn't drop low enough to cause damage.

Jacobsen explained citrus is pretty well protected around this time of year.

"The sugar content is the highest it's going to be as well as the rind around it is really thick and developed, so it protects it from those colder temperatures. So anything up to about 28 or 27 degrees we are okay with," Jacobsen explained.

However California Citrus Mutual adds cold temperatures any later in the season is a concern for next year's crop.

California Citrus Mutual said last year they saw early spring-like conditions which caused the trees to start blooming two to four weeks earlier than usual. This was followed by a cold spell that caused some of the early, fragile bloom to drop.

They say growers are hopeful that last year's drastic swing in temperatures will not happen this season.

Jacobsen said it's not just citrus farmers that have to worried about these temperatures.

"As we move into past the January point into February we start to have bloom here in the valley and those blossoms are very very sensitive when it comes to cold weather. Fortunately is looks like we escaped any damage from these latest storms the last couple of nights, but nevertheless these cold temperatures become worrisome," he said.

Those overnight freezing temperatures aren't the only thing farmers are keeping a watchful eye on.

"We are not only looking at the freezing at night but also looking at those daytime temperatures the magic degree is somewhere between 55-57 is where those bees fly to help pollinate the crops here important to the valley," Jacobsen said.
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