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Calif. Citrus Crop ‘In Very Good Shape’ Despite Sub-Freezing Temps

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LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Citrus farmers in the Southland and throughout California may have avoided devastating losses to their crops despite sub-freezing temperatures across much of the state, an industry analyst said Tuesday.

Joel Nelson with the trade group California Citrus Mutual told KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO that a five-day freeze event left much of the state’s citrus industry intact.

Nelson said that while he anticipates some potential damage to mandarin crops, he added that the navel and lemon industry are likely in “very good shape” despite an expensive weekend.

Farmers took preventative steps to protect their oranges, lemons and other fruit – and their respective prices – by deploying wind machines and using flowing water to keep orchard temperatures above freezing.

But, Nelson added, those measures didn’t come cheap for the state’s approximately 3,900 citrus growers.

“We estimate the cost of running the wind machines and running water to elevate the growth temperatures, it was probably a $21 million weekend for the citrus industry,” said Nelson.

Those expenses, however, may not necessarily spill over into higher prices for consumers, especially since farmers are accustomed to taking such measures at this time of year.

“We have a large crop, we have an excellent quality crop, and our objective is to satisfy the general public,” said Nelson. “We don’t need to raise our prices that high, and we don’t need to put inferior fruit on the marketplace.”

Temperatures for the Los Angeles Basin and other Valley areas are expected to slightly rise into the 30s and 40s on Tuesday. Wind chill temperatures for the Antelope Valley and Mount Wilson areas are expected to be in the single-digits and low 20s beginning tonight and lasting through Wednesday.

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