California: Central Valley citrus growers welcome cooler temperatures
The California Citrus Mutual (CCM) says the state's Central Valley-based growers were spared sub-freezing temperatures on Monday night, with temperatures dipping only into the low 30s in the early morning.
According to the CCM, the producers have reported the conditions were ideal for the crop at this point in the season, given the mild conditions to-date.
"Approximately 85-90% of the Central Valley navel orange, lemon, and mandarin crops remains on the tree," the organization said in a release on Tuesday.
"At this point in the season, a gradual decrease in temperatures, rather than a sudden drop, will better enable a tree to adjust while promoting a steady maturation process of the fruit by improving color and increasing flavor.
"Generally, last night's temperature conditions were ideal for the area's citrus crop."
For navel and lemon crops, growers report sporadic and limited use of wind machines for frost protection.
For these more cold-tolerant varieties, critical temperatures at which frost protection is needed is generally 27 degrees and below, the CCM explained.
"Duration of cold temperatures is a critical factor in whether a freeze event is positive or negative. In the case of last night, temperatures did not approach critical levels, and were in fact a very welcomed change from the unseasonably warm temperatures had to-date," it said.
The CCM went on to say some growers have reported running water as a precautionary step to keep the ground moist and grove temperatures elevated slightly.
"For the less cold-tolerant mandarin varieties, growers report using wind machines for an average of 10 hours last night in combination with running water," it said.
"The critical temperature for mandarins is generally 32 degrees, however, growers will run wind machines at warmer temperatures early in the season to allow the trees to adjust."
The organization added there had been some impact on the California citrus industry from the wildfires in the southern part of the state.
"While Central Valley growers evaded Mother Nature last night, widespread wildfires in Ventura County appear to have impacted the local citrus industry, although the extent is unknown at this time," it said.
"Reports indicate the area between Santa Paula and Ventura - a large citrus producing area in the region - was most significantly impacted.
"Citrus Mutual continues to reach out to local growers as they evaluate the potential impact."