Farmers across California are bracing for a sudden cold snap that may threaten the health of their crops.
The California citrus industry represents about a $2 billion slice of the California agricultural sector. While this figure represents only a piece of the massive California farm economy, it is also one of the most vulnerable elements of that economy.
The citrus crop’s vulnerability is only heightened in January and February, as late winter freezes can rapidly appear and can inflict severe damage on fledgling crops. This problem has been exacerbated by the string of unusual weather facing California farmers. According to one farmer, “In November and December, temperatures were 15 degrees warmer, and we accelerated harvests and had abundant supply. And then it started getting colder around the holidays, and the younger fields haven’t caught up—and that means there’ve been shortages.”
A sudden cold snap hitting California is hitting many farmers at a particularly vulnerable time. “Last night was a long night for farmers. We have $1.5 billion of fruit hanging on trees,” said Joel Nelson, president of California Citrus Mutual.
California farmers have already been forced to spend more than $10 million on cold-containment measures, including the use of wind machines that recirculate warm air and prevent freezing.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer