Hard Freeze Force Valley Citrus Growers To Work All Night - KMPH FOX 26 | Central San Joaquin Valley News Source

Hard Freeze Force Valley Citrus Growers To Work All Night

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FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KMPH) -

 It is a long Wednesday night for valley citrus growers, who have been protecting their crops from the recent cold snap.

Over night temperatures dropped into the low twenties forcing growers like Keith Watkins with Bee Sweet Citrus Incorporated to use both water and wind to save his crop.

Watkins says, "As the water changes from liquid to ice it gives off heat. As the heat rises it goes up through the trees, then the wind machines can blow the hotter air back down on the orchard."

Watkins adds 30 feet above ground, where the wind turbines are the temperature can be three to four degrees warmer than on the valley floor.

Watkins says, "If were looking at forecasts anywhere from 24 to 26 degrees tonight. If we can get 3 or 4 degrees in the groves here, sometimes the fruit can withstand those type of temperatures."

Technology is another defensive tool Watkins has in his arsenal, temperature sensors are placed in the grove. The sensors then send a text message to workers when the temperature drops to 32 degrees. When this happens, workers can then start up the wind machines.

There are some positives to the cold temperatures, it does sweeten the fruit, and toughens the rinds.

However, too much of it could damage the fruit and possibly kill the tree.

While citrus growers are dreading the freezing temperatures over night, grape and blueberry growers welcome the hard freeze at least for a while.

The cold temperature will help put their crop in a dormant state, eventually causing the leaves to fall.

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