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US - Valley Citrus Farmers Assess Freeze Damage

US – Valley Citrus Farmers Assess Freeze Damage

Keith Nilmeier has been a citrus grower in Fresno for years. He says this winter season has been one of the most difficult. He explained, “39 years of growing oranges, I’ve never seen a stretch of frost that long. We had the month of December, 31 days, and we used our wind machines for 25 of them. So that was a long, enduring and exasperating month.

Keith Nilmeier has been a citrus grower in Fresno for years. He says this winter season has been one of the most difficult. He explained, “39 years of growing oranges, I’ve never seen a stretch of frost that long. We had the month of December, 31 days, and we used our wind machines for 25 of them. So that was a long, enduring and exasperating month.”Nilmeier spent about $30,000 on frost protection, this season. That’s three times the amount he usually spends every year. He expressed, “It kind of gets on you. On an average frost night, you get maybe 2, 3, 4 hours of sleep.”


Fortunately, he hasn’t lost any crops to frost damage, yet. Others haven’t been so lucky. California Citrus Mutual estimates approximately 20% of this season’s mandarin crop will be lost to frost damage. About 10% of navel oranges will also be lost.“Mother nature’s fickle. She’s not fair to everybody. One guy she’ll pass and the next guy she’ll wipe out. Whatever we’re going to make, it’s going to be that much less. We’ll get to spend in our crop production for next year. So that kind of hurts,” said Nilmeier.But Nilmeier says it’s not all doom and gloom. He explained, “A little bit tough on us. We just got to suck it up little bit now and still farm this next year with what we’ll have available to us. But good for the consumer because we’ll be out there doing what we have to do to make sure there’s still good fruit for the market place and at the store, but it hasn’t been so bad that it’s going to push the prices up yet.”California Citrus Mutual says valley growers have spent a total of about $100 million on frost protection, this season. Keith Nilmeier says it’ll take about another week or two to get a full assessment of the frost damage.CCM says the lack of rain has also slowed down average fruit growth. Only 70% of navel oranges are left to be harvested.


Source – http://www.ksee24.com/

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