Valley farmers brace for potential freeze


Fresno, CA – Farmers across the Valley working in the middle of the night to combat the latest arctic blast.

“This is nerve-racking.,” says Almond farmer Paul Betancourt.

Wind machines on full blast and water ponds protecting this year’s crops against one of the coldest nights of the year. Farmers, like Betancourt, looking to beat the freeze and avoid what happened last season.

“People forget last year’s freeze, nonpareil almonds, which is the dominant variety of almonds lost 20% of its production because of the frost.”

Kieth Nilmeier and his team were picking oranges until sundown and for the second straight day working nearly around the clock to make sure the 70 acres of citrus makes it through the night. 

“We’ve had our wind machines serviced, new batteries put in so when you go out there you can start them up right away.”

Nilmeier says using wind machines and igniting peach pits to build a firewall is the best way to attack the freeze. But it’s been mother nature who’s provided the biggest help. Nilmeier says the latest storms mixed with the winter solstice has been fueling this years crop.

“Our fruit is at maximum sugar now, so it takes even more cold and a little longer duration to actually start freezing that fruit.”

But Valley farmers know there could be another round of frigid temperatures on the horizon.

“There’s still a lot of bad weather ahead and when we’re two or three weeks early on bloom that just puts the whole crop more at risk.” Said Betancourt.

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