published on December 19, 2016 - 6:38 AM
Written by The Business Journal Staff
Sub freezing temperatures are usually a cause for concern from citrus growers, but this past weekend was actually a welcomed change from unseasonably warm December weather to date.


Temperatures ranged from the high 20s to low 30s Friday through Sunday winter nights, which is ideal for most citrus varieties at this point in the season, according to the Exeter-based California Citrus Mutual.

“Navel oranges and lemons are generally more cold tolerant than mandarin, or easy-peel, varieties such as Clementines, Murcotts, and Tangos, but with frost protection by wind machines the weekend temperatures proved favorable for all varieties,” according to a news release from the 2,500-member citrus advocacy group. “The cold weather will actually cause the maturation process of the fruit to slow, allowing for the fruit to store longer on the tree and maintain its flavor, external quality, and color.”

Most mandarin growers report running wind machines on average 16 hours this weekend. Wind machines were used on roughly one-third of the more resilient Central Valley navel crop — covering 44,000 acres — for an average of five hours on Saturday and Sunday nights.  

California Citrus Mutual estimates Central Valley citrus growers spent a total of $25.1 million in frost protection this weekend alone to protect the region’s $2.5 billion crop

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