Cooler Temperatures Curate Citrus Flavor, States CA Citrus Mutual
EXETER, CA - A recent cold snap has hit the Central Valley of California, and citrus growers are celebrating the cooler temperatures. California Citrus Mutual (CMA) explained that crops are at low risk due to preventative measures, and that the temperature flux can actually improve the flavor of the fruit.
The lows for the latest freezing evenings in the valley ranged from 27℉ to 29℉, with the lowest temperatures hitting 24℉ to 25℉ in Ventura County, resulting in the coldest night recorded this winter.
The navel orange crop is resistant to temperatures as low as 27℉, however mandarin varieties are far more susceptible to the cold weather at temperatures of just 32℉, and lemon varieties fall near the middle, tolerating temperature of around 30℉.
While the oranges are impacted by the lower temperatures, what is more important, CMA said in a recent press release, is the amount of time the fruit spends at these low temperatures. The organization explained that, "the potential for damage increases when cold temperatures persist for several hours.”
When frost protection is needed for their crops, farmers turn to wind machines to keep the ground near the trees moist, and slightly elevate temperatures of the citrus groves. This cold snap resulted in a hard freeze, even colder than the previous nights and causing crop protection plans to be enacted as quickly as possible to save the state’s $3.8 billion dollar citrus crop.
CMA explained the crop protection plan in case of a hard freeze, stating that “the combination of a wet grove floor and the use of wind machines can elevate temperatures in the grove by as much as 5 degrees. As the warm air rises from the moist ground, wind machines effectively trap and circulate warm air in the grove. When temperatures fall below critical levels, 5 degrees is significant in preventing crop losses.”
With the crops safe from damage, farmers and consumers alike can celebrate the curious effects the cold has on citrus.
“Cooler temperatures are expected and can promote fruit flavor and quality, as well as allow for the fruit to stay on the tree longer thereby extending the season,” CMA explained. The season is just a quarter of the way completed, so there is plenty of time to invest in an excellent citrus crop before its close in mid-June.
AndNowUKnow is happy to report that California citrus is celebrating the colder weather, so expect delicious crops for the new year! Keep reading us here for the latest in produce news.