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www.wmfd.com - The cold weather sweeping across much of the nation is threatening California's $2-billion dollar annual citrus crop. }}" />

   
 
 
Cold Weather Threatens Citrus Crop In California

Story By: Larry Stine

 

 

 
 
 
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  Original Published: 12/9/2013 The cold weather sweeping across much of the nation is threatening California's 2-billion dollar annual citrus crop. CNN's Casey Wian shows us how growers are battling to save their fruit. The first real blast of winter comes amid harvest season at Gless Ranch. "What percentage of your crop would you say you've got harvested right now?" asked CNN's Casey Wian. "We're probably close to 40 percent," said John S. Gless, Gless Ranch Vice President and Manager. There's more urgency this year because freezing temperatures are threatening the family's 7,000 acres of oranges and other fruit, and California's $2-billion citrus industry. "It's not just how cold it gets, but the duration of time," says Gless. "I don't think it's going to get cold enough to hurt the trees, but it could definitely harm, freeze the fruit and we're doing everything we can to beat it." Growers in California's Central Valley are on edge, staying up all night to monitor temperatures dropping into the 20's, when they spring into action. This is a wind machine, powered by a six-cylinder Caterpillar diesel engines. It creates an inversion layer of air that raises ground temperatures a few degrees. "Very powerful. It's good for 10 to 15 acres," says Gless. Growers also warm the ground by saturating it with water, but they must do that before their pipes freeze. "Just putting moisture into the ground, it just generates warmth," says Gless. It's a tricky job that Gless refuses to delegate to anyone else. "I've got a great crew that's with me, but no, no, it's hands-on, you gotta be out here," says Gless. So far, despite some temperatures in the low 20's, so good. "You can cut the fruit and check the damage," says Gless. "I nmean this is unscathed, it's perfect." Growers here have spent nearly 7-million dollars battling freezing temperatures. Gless says he hasn't slept in three days. "The next week is going to be a tough one, but I think we're going to beat it," he says. Which means you're less likely to see higher prices at the supermarket.
   
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