Reports from the field say citrus was unharmed over the weekend as growers patrolled orchards last night. California Citrus Mutual Director of Government Affairs Alyssa Houtby said temperatures in many areas stayed above the forecast lows both Saturday, December 29 and Sunday, December 30. Originally, overnight temperatures were forecast for upper-20’s and even mid-20’s, but they stayed in the 30’s for most areas. Houtby said some growers reported that they didn’t need to turn on their wind machines.
There is more concern ahead, however. Growers will be bust tonight, December 31, with weathercasts in the upper-20’s and expected to get a degree or two lower tomorrow night, January 1. CCM said so far; the lower temperatures are welcomed after relatively warm conditions through the season. Their press release said ‘colder overnight temperatures will improve fruit quality and create conditions by which the fruit life can be extended, which is positive for managing market supply. A unique characteristic of citrus compared to other tree fruit crops is that, under ideal weather conditions, the fruit can be stored on the tree for several weeks.’
Navel oranges can take cooler temperatures than smaller fruit. Mandarin varieties can be sensitive to temperatures under 32 degrees. CCM reminds the industry and public that the lowest overnight temperature isn’t necessarily the most critical factor. The time spent under degree thresholds is what determines damage to the fruit.