Citrus growers are keeping a close eye on the weather. Sabrina Hill reports.
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Growers are making frequent calls to California Citrus Mutual’s Weather Center phone line as a Canadian arctic blast makes its way through the state’s main citrus-producing areas – mainly Tulare County and other San Joaquin Valley areas. In all, the San Joaquin Valley produces about $1.5 billion in citrus each year. December freezes are the bane of the industry. Back in 1990, a December freeze caused more than $500 million in damages and 8 years after that, another freeze caused the same devastation. Both times it led to the loss of thousands of jobs and major problems for local economies
Currently, about 85 percent of the state’s citrus crop is still on the trees and vulnerable to freeze damage. According to the National Weather Services, the Fresno-area is looking at lows between 32 and 29 degrees from Thursday to Saturday. Out in the country where the citrus groves are located, it could dip even lower. If the temperatures stay that low for more than just a few hours, it could cause significant damage to the navel and mandarin oranges still on trees.
Growers will spend the next few sleepless nights watching the weather hour-by-hour and taking proactive steps such as saturating the ground with water and turning on wind machines all to keep the temperature in the groves warmer by a just a few precious degrees.
For the California Citrus Mutual’s weather page, click here.