Temperatures in California’s Central Valley dipped as low as 27 degrees recently, but no damage is expected and orange growers say the cold can lead to better flavor and fruit quality.
Central Valley temperatures fell to lows ranging from 27-31 degrees, according to California Citrus Mutual, and growers prepared by running wind machines as a precaution.
Mandarins are more susceptible to damage from temperatures below freezing, according to a news release from California Citrus Mutual, Exeter, but navels can tolerate temperatures as low as 27 degrees.
The cold weather was reported the night/morning of Dec. 28-29, but below-freezing temperatures lasted only 3-4 hours, not long enough to cause damage.
With high summer temperatures a mild winter so far, the temperatures were a welcome change, according to the release. Cooler temperatures also allow citrus to stay on trees longer and extend the season.
Some growers ran water to keep the ground moist.
“In the event of a hard freeze, 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,” according to the release. “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.”