California citrus weathers holiday freeze

01/02/2008 12:00:00 AM
David Mitchell

(Jan. 2, PACKER WEB EXCLUSIVE) Freezing temperatures did not inflict significant damage on central California’s citrus crop Dec. 26-27, said Bob Blakely, director of grower services for the California Citrus Mutual, Exeter.

Blakely said the critical point for citrus is 28 degrees, and temperatures fell into the mid-20s on the night of Dec. 26 and in the early hours of Dec. 27. Growers used wind machines on towers for several hours to mix warmer air aloft with colder air in the orchards.

Blakely said cold weather thus far has been manageable and will help the fruit’s color and flavor and also will help make the crops hardier if colder weather is a factor later in the growing season.

An eight-day cold snap in Jan. 2007 wiped out 75% of the state’s citrus crop and caused $1 billion in losses.

“We haven’t had anything like last year when we had a lot of nights in the low 20s,” Blakely said Jan 2. “That was the last really cold night we had.”

Blakely said temperatures were expected to increase Jan. 3 with rain showers expected across the growing area through the weekend.



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