California: Freezing temperatures benefitting citrus crop, says CCM

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California: Freezing temperatures benefitting citrus crop, says CCM

Freezing temperatures in California over recent days have not led to any reports of damage on the citrus production and are likely benefitting the crop, according to the California Citrus Mutual (CCM).

The CCM described Tuesday night as "another long night" for growers as temperatures dropped throughout the Central Valley and Ventura County.

In the Central Valley, cloud cover prevented temperatures from dropping as low as expected, generally hovering around the 27-29ºF range, while in Ventura County temperatures bottomed out around 24 to 25ºF, marking the coldest night this winter.

"Growers throughout both regions reported running wind machines for several hours to protect the State's $3.8 billion dollar citrus crop," the CCM said.

"Additionally, water was run in colder spots to moisten the ground in anticipation of the cooler temperatures. 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, a two to four degree increase can prevent significant crop losses."

Navel varieties can tolerate temperatures as low as 27ºF without threat of damage, whereas Mandarin varieties tend to be susceptible to some damage at temperatures below 32ºF.  Lemon varieties fall in the middle, tolerating temperatures as low as 30 degrees.  

"We are currently a quarter of the way through the citrus season, which is anticipated to go through 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," the CCM said.

Related article: Californian citrus industry may have “quality product well past the 4th of July”

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