Calif. citrus growers toil to fight freeze

6:51 AM, Dec 6, 2013   |    comments
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SANTA ANA, Calif. - Plummeting temperatures have California's citrus growers running wind machines and employing other grove-warming techniques, as the industry braces for days of cold weather.

Officials say temperatures in the citrus-rich San Joaquin Valley dropped to the low 20s Wednesday night, but it was too early to tell whether there was any crop damage. The forecast predicts a similar temperature dip into the low 20s early Friday.

California Farm Bureau Federation spokesman Dave Kranz says any damage to mandarin oranges, tangerines and navel oranges may not be known for weeks.

To protect the $2 billion citrus crop, farmers pump water into groves, which warms the ground. Wind machines circulate the warm air rising from the ground.

Alyssa Houtby of California Citrus Mutual, an industry association, says Valley mandarin farmers spent about $1.7 million overnight on frost protection.

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