How recent Valley temperatures impact crops

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) — “Until those temps and the fruit colors are up a certain amount, we can’t even pick it.”

Central Valley citrus growers have been waiting for temperatures around 30 degrees to bump them into harvesting.

“It needs the cold weather to develop the sugar content and the flavor,” says Jared Gomes with Pro Citrus Network. “The cold temperature also gives the fruit more life on the shelf once it gets to the store.”

Lemons, naval oranges and mandarins are among the main crops they’re watching.

Jared Gomes says while the cold is helpful, they don’t want too much of a good thing since it can lead to damage like frostbite.

One way for growers to avoid it is by watering the trees, but that’s also a challenge because of the drought.

“Farmers need irrigation water to protect tress from the frost so when they are short on water and then mother nature is not supplying it, that is one of their defensive mechanisms,” Gomes said. “It’s a double edge sword.”

The National Weather Service says, unfortunately, it’s predicting a dry winter but will remain on top of sending out alerts in hopes of helping as much as possible.

About 90 percent of fresh citrus production in the country comes from the Golden State, and of that, 80 percent comes from the Central Valley.

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