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Temperatures on the upswing, Valley growers welcome respite
Temperatures were up one to two degrees from the season-to-date lows seen on Sunday night.
Valley growers are confident that the small leap will make a big difference in the effectiveness of wind protection and anticipate minimal damage to come, California Citrus Mutual said in a frost report issued Tuesday.
The nonprofit association of California citrus growers said in the report temperatures in the San Joaquin Valley dropped rapidly in the early evening and growers reported starting wind protection sooner than on previous nights, cognizant of the cumulative impact of five consecutive nights of below-freezing temperatures.
With temperatures averaging a 26-degree low in the Valley Monday night, wind machines were able to create a good inversion layer and elevate grove temperatures three to five degrees to above critical levels, the association said.
Imperial and Ventura counties also suffered from cold weather Monday night.
Growers in Imperial County expect that some damage may surface as a result given that fruit in the area is not as cold tolerant as the production in the Valley.
In Ventura, temperatures stayed at about 30 to 35 degrees all night, and it appears producers did not have to take any precautions. Early assessments coming in from the groves indicate that there has not been measurable damage to the 63 million cartons of navel oranges still on the tree, the association reports.
Temperatures below 32 degrees for 12 hours and below 27 degrees for four hours on Sunday night have raised concerns over damage to the remaining mandarin crop.
However, inspectors are reporting only isolated areas of damage.
California Citrus Mutual reports that the full extent of damage may take weeks to become evident.
Inspections will continue in the hardest hit areas in order to prevent damaged fruit from entering the marketplace.
California Citrus Mutual estimates, based on grower reports, the industry has collectively spent $23.1 million over the past five nights to protect a $2 billion crop.
The association said due to the length of the frost event and the cost to protect the crop from damage, per-carton prices may rise slightly, but the price per pound at retail should not be impacted. Consumers are not expected to see any impact as far as quality of the fruit.
“This season, we are seeing exceptionally sweet-tasting fruit, which will ensure the quality of the crop remains despite this freeze event,” the frost report states.