California keeps getting colder. After a fifth straight day of unusually cold weather, citrus growers are beginning to see damage to their fruit.
In many growing areas, temperatures have dropped to the mid-20s, and winds have hit 50 mph. Prolonged conditions like these could be disastrous to California’s entire citrus crop.
According to NPR, the San Joaquin Valley is fighting against the wind and cold to save its $1.5 billion worth of citrus crops.
California Citrus Mutual associate Paul Story says:
“It was our coldest night to date. I think mandarin growers are going to see a range of significant damage, enough that they will have to separate their crops.”
Mandarins are one of the most susceptible citruses to the cold and begin to freeze at 32 degrees. Because of the recent popularity, much of the mandarin crop is planted in colder areas outside of the traditional “citrus belt.”
Story says oranges have fared the best so far. Orange’s high sugar content makes them less susceptible to freezing and helps protect them.
To keep cold air from settling and herd warm air closer to their crops, citrus growers have been using wind machines.
About the effectiveness of wind machines, Lindsey-based citrus farmer Robert LoBue says:
“We’re very diligent, we run the wind and water all night, but we’re spending thousands of dollars to protect these crops.”
Sadly, the cold weather doesn’t appear ready to let up as a freeze warning will remain in effect in Central California until 10am Tuesday morning.
Are you a big citrus eater? Are you worried about what a ruined crop might do to citrus prices in stores?