Cold snap forces growers to act
It has gotten cold enough the past two nights for area citrus growers to use wind machines, but an official with California Citrus Mutual doubted any damaged was done.
Temperatures in the citrus belt have dipped into the upper-20s the past two nights and were forecast to be around 30 degrees last night.
Navel oranges are not too much at risk of lows in the upper-20s. Most at risk right now are mandarins, said Bob Blakley, director of industry relations with CCM.
“We certainly had critical levels [temperatures] for mandarins,” he said, explaining mandarins have a thinner rind, are smaller in size and tend to be on the outside of the trees where they are more exposed to the cold. He said mandarin growers begin running wind machines at 32 degrees, while orange growers tend to begin running those machines at 30 or 28 degrees.
Still, with most lows in the district above 28 degrees, dipping only slightly lower for a short while, he did not think any damage was done.
The navel orange crop, estimated at 90 million cartons in the state, is far enough along that it would take lows in the mid-20s to cause any damage. Still, most growers did not take any chances, running wind machines and water in the groves to raise the temperatures.
CCM reported the coldest spot was west of Lindsay at 25.1 degrees, while west of Porterville the mercury dipped to 25.7 degrees. East Lindsay showed a 29.7, East Porterville 29.2, Ducor 28.5 and Terra Bella 31.6. Strathmore got as cold as 28.6.
Blakley said the cold is actually good for the fruit right now. It thickens the rind and brings on the color.
And, he said, cold this time of year is expected.
The National Weather Service is calling for warmer temperatures as a series of storms is expected to move through the state. Rain is expected to begin tonight and the forecast calls for showers through Thursday of next week.