The Fight to Save Local Citrus

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Local growers are in for three very long nights. They'll be keeping a close eye on the dropping temperatures. Outer perimeters orange grove's have already been picked because they are the most susceptible to frost damage. But about 75% of the Valley citrus crop remains on the tree.

Local citrus growers have been trying to get as much of their lemon crop picked before the hard freeze hits. Lemons suffer more frost damage than oranges in the extreme cold. That's why Nick Hill has half of his lemon crop already picked. He says, "the more the sugar thats in the fruit, the lower the temperature will be when its freezes, lemons don't have that kind of sugar content so they're more suseptible to damage than an orange."

Hill and other citrus growers will be running water through their orchards to warm the air. Growers hope these wind machines will protect their citrus from frost damage. Keith Nilmeier is also prepared to burn peach pits for the next three nights to help keep his crop warm.Containers full of peach pits line his groves. Nilmeier says, "We'll be burning them right underneath the wind machines and letting the heat go up and blow it all around. Plus we'll be burning a perimeter wall all the way around the field trying to create basically a heat wall." As well as his own inversion layer. If it gets cold enough, it will look like a series of bonfires are burning in his orchard.

The air resources board says it is okay for growers like Nilmeier to burn peach pits to keep their crops safe from the frost.

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