Valley farmers fear threat of more hail, freezing temperatures

Hail pounded parts of the city and farmland west of Fresno overnight. Plastic coverings over rows of vegetables were knocked down, and lots of blossoms were knocked off of the trees. Damage assessments are being made, but the threat of more hail, and an overnight freeze warning are a potential concern.

"This time of year - February, March - probably the two largest risks we fear in the agriculture industry is hail and freeze and we are looking at both of those within a 24-hour period right now," says Ryan Jacobsen, CEO of the Fresno County Farm Bureau.

Jacobsen says the potential freeze could threaten peaches, plums, cherries, and the Valley's biggest crop, almonds.

"Right now the crops you see at the highest risk are deciduous tree fruits that are blooming, as well as almonds - those are extraordinarily sensitive because of the delicate nature of those blossoms."

Unlike citrus growers, tree fruit and almond growers have limited options to use to keep the crop warm. running water through the orchards can help, but not this time.

"Ironically our fields are already filled with water right now and so running water either A, probably won't work, and B, putting more water in the fields is probably not a good idea. So it's definitely going to be a risk tonight that farmers with blooming trees are going to have to see how it shakes out."

But Jacobsen says if growers get through this week, next week promises a return to warmer weather.
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