California citrus growers access damage

12/16/2013 02:38:00 PM
Andy Nelson

As temperatures returned to seasonal norms in California’s citrus groves, growers waited to gauge the damage from freezes in the first half of December.

Growers endured a week of very cold temperatures, and there will be damage, Bob Blakely, director of industry relations for Exeter-based California Citrus Mutual, said Dec. 16.

“We’re hearing things all over the board. Some had severe damage, some not so much, but we’re finding that there is some damage pretty much everywhere,” Blakely said.

The industry could have a damage estimate late the week of Dec. 16 or by the middle of the week of Dec. 23, he said.

Shippers have agreed to hold fruit harvested after Dec. 11 for 48 hours to give inspectors time to check for damages, Blakely said.

One thing growers won’t likely have to worry about for awhile is cold weather. Temperatures did dip below 32 degrees in some regions the weekend of Dec. 14-15, but frost prevention measures were effective and even unnecessary in some cases, Blakely said.

Forecasts as of Dec. 16 called for more seasonably normal temperatures for at least the short term.

At first, growers and officials thought that mandarins were damaged by the freezes but not navels. But after the night of Dec. 8-9, the sixth night of the cold snap, California Citrus Mutual announced that navels were likely damaged, too.

During the snap, official and growers also expressed concerns about the high costs of frost prevention and potential breakdowns of heavily-used wind machines.

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