After experiencing a warmer than average February, low temperatures are now causing significant concern for almond growers. The cold front that came into California has made national news with pictures of icicles hanging from almond blooms.
“I have growers from Bakersfield all the way up to Sacramento and what I’ve seen so far and what I’ve heard so far is lows of down to 24-25 [degrees],” said Kern County Farm Bureau Director and Pearl Crop Grower Representative Jared Britschgi.
Irrigating fields is the best tool for growers to try and combat the cold temperatures. “The warmest ground is bare, wet ground,” said Britschgi, “so you can get two to three degrees out of running water during these frost periods to try and create that buffer zone out in the orchards.”
Many farmers did what they could to mitigate the harm caused by the low temperatures, but a complete picture of just what kind of damage crops suffered will not be clear for a bit longer. Much of it is going to depend on what stage of bloom the trees are in. “Hopefully in the next couple days, we can really get a good estimate on what kind of damage we’re seeing,” Britschgi said.
This year’s dry weather and above average temperatures made it even more surprising for growers to hear a frost alert in February, which is fairly uncommon. “It’s not something we deal with every year, not like the citrus guys, but something that pops up every so often,” said Britschgi.
The forecast is calling for rain in several parts of California, but growers remain focused on the cold overnight temperatures. “The rain’s not something that is necessarily going to really damage the crop, it’s just something that you deal with,” Britschgi said, “the frost is something that could really have a severe effect on the actual production.”
Listen to the interview below.