Winter storms delaying citrus harvest in the Valley

Farmers may be disappointed in the delayed harvest but they welcomed another round of heavy rain and fresh powder to pad the snowpack.
FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- Some Valley citrus growers rushed to pick ripe fruit off the tree before the arrival of the powerful storm.

But it remained a waiting game for many other farmers who continued to watch heavy rain flood their fields and groves.

Fresno State Orchard Manager Rob Willmott explained, "The furrows are just starting to fill up with water. There's no way you could take any equipment in there."

Workers either.

Not in this flooded, muddy citrus orchard on the Fresno State campus farm.

Crews were ready to harvest the popular, pink flesh Cara Cara crop.

But Willmott said, "We can't pick the Cara Cara now because of the rain. One, it's unsafe for the workers to be in there while it's raining and everything and slipping on ladders on so forth."

Two citrus varieties were in season here but customers will have to wait a few weeks until the ground dries out.

Picking wet oranges is a bad idea. Willmott said consumers would notice marking on the fruit and they probably wouldn't buy it.

Willmott added, "The peel on the orange will actually absorb the moisture and then you'll get spotting and damages from that as well. So that's why whenever they do pick citrus, they have to make sure all the dew is off the fruit and that it's dry."

Farmers may be disappointed in the delayed harvest but they welcomed another round of heavy rain and fresh powder to pad the snowpack.
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