California citrus growers saw the coldest temperatures of the season as the new year started, but preparations staved off any damage that would have occurred.
California Citrus Mutual, Exeter, reported temperatures in the Central Valley dipped to 27-29 degrees Fahrenheit the night/morning of Jan. 1-Jan. 2, with cloud cover preventing even lower temperatures, according to a news release from the citrus growers’ group.
In Ventura County, temperatures dropped to 24-25 degrees, marking the coldest night of winter in the state’s citrus growing areas.
For at least the second time in a week, growers took measures against the cold, including running wind machines and running water. According to the news release, “as warm air rises from the moist ground, wind machines effectively trap and circulate warm air in the grove.”
When damaging temperatures threaten the fruit, just a 2- 4-degree temperature increase can prevent significant crop losses, according to the release.
Navel varieties can stand temperatures as low as 27 degrees without damage, but mandarins are susceptible to problems below freezing. Lemons can tolerate temperatures as low as 30 degrees, according to California Citrus Mutual. The amount of damage depends on how long citrus is subject to the low temperatures.
The California citrus season is anticipated to last into mid-June.
“At this point in the season, cold weather is to be expected and at current levels is beneficial for fruit quality, color, and flavor,” according to the release.
According to the citrus group, which cites county crop reports, 81% of the California citrus crop is from the Central Valley, representing 80% of the total value of the state’s $3.8 billion citrus industry.