California Orange Crop Might Be in Danger Due To Cold Spell
This cold spell isn't just killing your social life, it's also a threat to one of California's greatest crops, citrus. Orange farmers are fearing that the snap might threaten their harvest this year.
The low temps, which have dipped into the 20s for five days straight, could well have an impact on California ag.
Temperatures dropped as much as 10 degrees Fahrenheit below average in growing areas including the San Joaquin Valley, where it reached the mid-20s, said Joel Widenor, the director of agriculture services at Commodity Weather Group in Bethesda, Maryland. Less than a quarter of the state’s citrus belt had weather cold enough to threaten crops, he said. The fruit can freeze and become useless if temperatures drop below 28 degrees (minus 2 Celsius) for three to four hours.
Farmers are preventing damage by running warm water through the soil and using wind machines that mix high warm air with lower cold air. The main damage will be to the mandarins, which are normally harvested in March and account for 24 percent of California's citrus output. Other table varieties, such as the navels and valencias, will not have such an impact.
It's a good thing that the damage isn't too great, because with the shortage of flu vaccines, Southern Californians will be needing their vitamin C.