Forecasted Freezes for California’s San Joaquin Valley Fail to Materialize
CALIFORNIA – California residents may be ‘freezing’ this winter, but luckily the citrus crops are not.
After last week’s freeze warning in California’s San Joaquin Valley, the industry was preparing for the worst. Luckily, temperatures remained well above trigger points for the citrus industry. A report from California Citrus Mutual (CCM) states that wind machines and water raised grove temperatures on average by three or four degrees, thereby ensuring no significant fruit damage for any of the major varieties, navel oranges, lemons, and mandarins.
“Our stations clearly indicate that very few locations dipped below 32 degrees for any period of time,” report CCM President Joel Nelsen. “Throughout the night and early morning a few locations experienced short durations of cold temperatures requiring some form of frost protection."
The San Joaquin Valley has over 200,000 acres of citrus farmed, with primary varieties being oranges and mandarin oranges. Lemons and other varieties make up nearly 15% of the Valley's citrus crop. The mandarin and lemon varieties are the most vulnerable with their thinner skin.
"Growers initiated frost protection by 10 PM in most cases," Nelsen continued, referring to New Year's Eve. "No doubt the early start helped keep temperatures higher throughout the night and with lows not reaching 26 dregrees, except in the coldest unprotected areas, we conclude it was a long night but a safe night."
Last week, temperatures in other major producing locations in the state, primarily Ventura, Riverside and Imperial Counties, all saw temperatures well above the threshold of concern, according to a CCM press release.
Some mandarin groves farthest from wind machines may be susceptible to damage in West Kern County were low temperatures were reported consistently, however. Nevertheless, Nelsen assures that this should not affect volume or price significantly.
California’s last freeze for the industry took place in December 2013 with multiple critical temperatures.
Stay tuned to AndNowUKnow for the latest weather updates as they influence the industry.