While freezing temperatures were predicted throughout the Central Valley this week, a decent cloud cover created a strong inversion layer in most citrus producing areas, helping to keep grove temperatures in a manageable range.
Wind machines ran periodically through the night starting as early as 10 p.m. on Mandarin and Navel orange crops to circulate the inversion layer and raise grove temperatures. Growers report that with protection from the wind machines, temperatures hovered in the upper 20s to low 30s, which is ideal for fruit quality at this point in the season. In some cases, growers used wind machines in the early morning hours to keep the fruit dry and prevent delays in harvest.
Typically, growers will also run water using micro-sprinklers to moisten and warm the ground in preparation for a cold night. This weekend, growers received an early Christmas present from Mother Nature in the form of rain, which helped keep grove conditions moist despite the cold, dry weather last night.
All in all, growers report conditions were typical of a winter night and expect no damage to the Valley’s citrus crop as a result of the cold temperatures.
California Citrus Mutual is a non-profit trade association of citrus growers, with approximately 2,200 members representing 70% California’s 362,000-acre, $3 billion citrus industry. The mission of California Citrus Mutual is to inform, educate, and advocate on behalf of citrus growers. The Exeter, California-based organization was founded in 1977.