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» January 12, 2007 «
It will be a worrisome weekend for California citrus farmers. Forecasts indicate that temperatures could drop into the mid-20s for hours at a time. That would be cold enough, long enough to damage lemons, oranges and other citrus fruit. Farmers will activate wind machines and irrigation systems to try to protect their crops. They have also been harvesting as much fruit as possible, but some farmers say they can't hire enough people quickly enough to harvest all the fruit they want.
Livestock and poultry producers say they don't expect the cold spell to cause serious problems. Poultry farmers maintain their birdhouses at 77 degrees year round and will make sure to keep their birds comfortable. Cattle ranchers say their animals aren't having calves at this time of year and that cattle can withstand the predicted temperatures. Some ranchers may have to chip any ice that forms on stock ponds, but many ranches have water sources that don't freeze over.
Rain is a bigger concern than cold weather, for Ventura County strawberry growers. The forecast for that growing region includes a possibility of showers through today (Friday). But predicted low temperatures should stay above freezing through the weekend. Farmers say they have been surprised at the production, as the plants have been producing more strawberries than expected. The cooler temperatures will likely slow production somewhat.
Wind has been the problem in San Diego County, where avocado farmers report crop losses. Extremely strong winds blew immature avocados off of trees. Growers continue to assess their losses. The avocados aren't big enough to use. San Diego County farmers expect to escape frost damage to crops, but to the north, Ventura County farmers with avocados large enough to harvest are picking fruit before the cold weather arrives.Top