Farmers take steps to protect plants as Valley freezes

WOODLAKE, Calif. (KFSN) -- Cold temperatures are expected again overnight -- going below the freezing mark. It's another night farmers will have to take extra care for sensitive plants like citrus.

Volunteers at the Bravo Lake Botanical Garden in Woodlake watched the temperatures and turned on water hoping to prevent plants from freezing.

These bananas were just weeks away from being ready, but overnight temperatures dropped below freezing.

"If these bananas were inside the container, they would be fine," said Manuel Jimenez with the Bravo Lake Botanical Garden.

Jimenez says he was hopeful the late bunch would've survived, but he's grateful it's the only frost damage he's found so far. Thursday morning, ice could still be seen at the base of citrus trees.

"We can just turn the water on prior to the frost and then let it run all night until the frost is over," said Jimenez.

Jimenez says the water gives enough heat for the trees to raise them 2 to 3 degrees. It may sound slight but it's enough to keep the citrus plants above freezing.

"Instead of dropping to 28 degrees or 27 degrees like it was last night, it will maintain itself between 32, 31 and that's sufficient," said Jimenez.

Damage will first show up in the leaves, and fruit won't show damage for several days -- until it's opened.

The garden has a covered portion with tropical plants -- papayas, mangoes -- and more banana trees are kept safe through winter in this shelter.

"We cover them with these hubcaps and the hubcaps will make a difference of about 4 degrees," said Jimenez.

Geraniums are kept safe under smaller shelters outside.

The garden is hoping to start selling at local farmers markets this year, but any frost will change those plans, so they'll watch the thermometer, adjust sprinkler settings and hope Mother Nature doesn't get too cold.

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