But the week before Christmas, the toll of a Dec. 4-10 cold snap remained unclear there and in Fresno and Tulare counties.
“In the cuttings so far, as an average throughout the county we’re seeing about a 20% loss to mandarin and lemon crops,” Glenn Fankhauser, assistant director at the Kern County Department of Agriculture and Measurement Standards, said Dec. 18. “But until they ramp up picking and the damage becomes more apparent, we really don’t know. It’s ongoing.”
“The damage doesn’t seem widespread, but we are rejecting lots and bins that exceed the tolerance,” said Fred Rinder, Fresno County deputy agricultural commissioner. “Probably the most damage we’re seeing is in the cara cara navels and mandarins. Lemons are spotty and navels are hit and miss too.”
“We’ll be out there doing freeze (inspections) at least through late February,” Rinder said Dec. 19. “We haven’t even started our historically coldest period. We could easily have another freeze by the end of January that would throw everything caddywompus.”
Harvesting slowed down, said Bob Blakely, director of industry relations for Exeter-based California Citrus Mutual.
“Growers are finding a lot of packable fruit, but they’re walking away from some blocks to give the damage time to manifest,” he said. “They’re finding good fruit in the interiors of those groves but are hesitant to run it because they can’t really identify the damage or do a good job of separating it.”