Cloud cover the last few nights has acted as a great warming blanket for valley citrus growers. California Citrus Mutual reports that critical freezing temperatures have only held for a short time, thus minimizing the damage to crops.
Grower Keith Nilmeier farms 70 acres of Navel Oranges in Fresno County.
“We’ve been real fortunate. Each night we've just dodged the bullet. I mean it's been right there,” said Keith Nilmeier, a citrus grower.
Nilmeier has been protecting his trees by warming them up through irrigation practices and running wind machines.
“Last night I picked up a good two and a half degrees at the ground level,” said Nilmeier.
Russel Efird says the cold conditions are actually great for vineyards, stone fruits and almonds because it puts them through a chilling process.
“If we don't have chilling hours during this cold period then the buds are not as fruitful and you could have a diminished crop next year,” said Russel Efird, an almond grower.
However, he only wants the extreme cold to stick around for a short time.
“A little over a month from now we'll have blooms on these almonds and if we had this type of temperature at that time it would be very devastating for the almond crop, so it's just a timing deal,” said Efird.
Farmers in the San Joaquin Valley have spent $11 million on frost protection measures in just three days. A small investment when you consider California’s citrus industry generates $2 billion dollars a year.
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