- Domingo 23 de janeiro de 2022
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California contabiliza preju?zos.

By David Castellon - Staff writer The overnight freeze that spread across California wasnt as tough on the Central Valleys citrus crop as some had expected, but it did do damage say area farmers. And the big questions on their minds today is how much damage was done and how much more is yet to come as overnight freeze warnings still are in effect for tonight through Tuesday morning. Chris Brewer, 56, said he has no doubt some of the oranges growing on the trees of his 26 acres of citrus groves in Exeter were damaged by the temperatures that dipped down as low as 22.5 degrees despite his putting large amounts of water in his groves to warm them up. He cut open a young Fukimoto orange this morning which confirmed his concerns the cold had broken some cells in the orange. But, whether his more mature oranges were affected in the same way is hard to tell, he said. And its just not his fruit thats being hurt by the cold, Oh God, young trees are at great risk, Brewer said standing amid a 4-acres grove of his trees that all are 2 years old or younger. Surely, some were damaged, but it will take awhile to find out when the young trees start dying, Brewer said. Other farmers were more sure about the freezes effect on them. In recent days, growers of lemons which have less sugar and thinner skins than oranges and grapefruits, making them more vulnerable to freeze damage have tried frantically to get their fruit off the trees, but much of it just wasnt mature enough to be picked, said Allen Ishida, a Tulare County Supervisor who also owns 260 acres of citrus groves in the Lindsay and Strathmore areas. He estimated Saturday that overnight he lost 30 acres of lemons to the cold, and managed to save only about 20 percent of his crop. I imagine it cost me 90,000 bucks last night. As for the effect on his oranges, he said, its too early to tell, a message echoed by officials from California Citrus Mutual, who held a press conference Saturday at the LoBue Bros. citrus packing house in Lindsay. Also there was California Secretary of Agriculture A.G. Kawamura, who came to tour Valley farms to look at the freeze damage that stretched from Madera County to the south Valley as well as some parts of Southern California including Riverside County. We just know again there has been damage, but its not as bad as predicted, Kawamura said. However, his optimism was guarded, as he noted that there are still two or three days to go with very cold nights that could be as bad or worse than the past two nights. At stake is about $1 billion worth of citrus still on the trees in the Valley, and despite a mad dash to pick what ready fruit they could, farmers only managed to pick about a quarter of their crop before the freeze hit, said Joel Nelsen, president of California Citrus Mutual. Winds overnight in the western end of the south Valley helped warm up some spots including the Lemoore and Kettleman City areas so temperatures dipped only to the 24- to 28-degree range, said Jeff Barlow, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Hanford. However, the east side of the south Valley had reports of temperatures as low as 20 degrees, with some of the lowest in the areas of Porterville and Terra Bella, he said. Randy Veeh, president of Visalia Citrus Packing Group, said he heard reports from farmers of temperatures down to 18 degrees in those areas. The reporter can be reached at dcastell@visalia.gannett.com

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