FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – Temperatures have started to dip down overnight in the Central Valley, which could mean trouble for local citrus crops.
Citrus fruits can be damaged if they go unprotected when the temperature drops to between 28 and 30 degrees Fahrenheit. But there’s no cause for concern for growers just yet. The CEO of the Fresno County Farm Bureau said our current temperatures aren’t cause for concern at the moment, but it’s only a matter of time.
When temperatures do get down to that 28 to 30 degrees range, there are some methods orchard owners are able to utilize to keep their crops safe.
“What those citrus farmers will do, is they’ll run a combination of water out in the fields because that groundwater actually releases heat and helps to boost that temperature. As well as they’ll run those big, large fans out there in the field,” said Ryan Jacobsen, CEO of the Fresno County Farm Bureau.
The fans essentially take air from 15 to 20 feet high and push it to the ground. That warmer air, plus a combination of groundwater, will typically raise the temperature at the ground by between two and four degrees.
Solutions like these can buy valuable time, especially in the colder overnight hours.
“It’s really about duration. How long? And the how long question mark is often times when it’s over six hours. That’s when it’s… it becomes really problematic,” said Jacobsen.
He also said, the biggest time of concern for farmers citrus farmers is coming; the month of December. Crops that can also be hit hard, include broccoli, lettuce, and others native to southeast Asia. However, the cold and frost is not all bad, especially for other crops around the valley.
“When it comes to vines or peaches, plums, nectarines, and those types of trees and vines that require the leaves to be knocked off… that’s what the frost does. It helps to burn the leaves back, it knocks them off. It prepares them, it puts them into a slumber state, so they’re ready to go into production for next year,” he said.