California Citrus Mutual says Central Valley citrus growers welcome cooler temperatures
EXETER – While freezing nights in the Valley can leave people shivering in their homes, the temperature is just right for Tulare County’s citrus crop. California Citrus Mutual (CCM) out of Exeter says the cooler nights in the midst of a mild winter thus far is a welcomed change of pace for citrus growers.
“At this point in the season, cooler temperatures are expected and can promote fruit flavor and quality, as well as allow for the fruit to stay on the tree longer thereby extending the season. Following a very hot summer and a mild winter thus far, last night’s cooler temperatures are a welcomed change,” a CCM press release noted on Saturday.
Temperatures dropped below freezing throughout the Central Valley on Friday night with lows ranging from 27 degrees to 31 degrees. Citrus growers report running wind machines for varying amounts of time as a precautionary measure, particularly on the less cold tolerant mandarin crop. Overall, however, these temperatures are positive and no damage is expected.
Navel varieties can tolerate temperatures as low as 27 degrees without threat of damage, whereas Mandarin varieties tend to be susceptible to damage at temperatures below 32. The key factor is duration of time at or below these thresholds. The potential for damage increases when cold temperatures persist for several hours.
Fortunately, Friday night’s temperatures fell below freezing for only 3-4 hours, on average.
Wind machines were used primarily in the coldest areas of the Valley and on Mandarins. Few growers reported running water through the groves as a precautionary step to keep the ground moist and grove temperatures elevated slightly. 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. 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.
Overall, Friday night’s weather conditions are positive for the Central Valley citrus crop. Growers do anticipate cooler temperatures throughout the weekend and are preparing to implement frost protection measures as needed.
California Citrus Mutual is also making every effort to keep citrus growers informed with the latest information.
Last week CCM noted they implemented a system to help growers stay updated on freeze alerts. Through their Weather Watch system, growers can sign up for text notifications to alert them every time the CCM Weather Watch Forecast is updated. This will include updates during critical nights. With this system growers will know exactly when the forecast is updated, saving them time and keeping them informed.
“We encourage everyone to sign up for these alerts. To sign up for this free alert system, text the word WEATHER to 33222. No personal information is needed to start receiving the alerts. If at any time you would like to stop receiving the alerts, simply text the word STOP to the same number (33222),” CCM reported in a press release.
Alert texts will be sent out if a widespread frost or freeze is likely. Along with the updated alert will be a link to our website with the forecast information on our weather watch chart, making it quick and easy for growers to access the new information.
CCM notes with any new system, feedback is always welcome. They ask users to please contact Joel Medina Reyes, Director of Field Operations at 559-592-3790 or JReyes@cacitrusmutual.com with any questions, concerns, or suggestions as it relates to the text alert system.