With freezing temperatures in the forecast this week for much of the Central Valley, concern is high for growers of commodities in the midst of harvest, or close to it, such as citrus and avocados. The California Department of Food and Agriculture works collaboratively with these and other commodity groups to help minimize damage and protect consumers.
Citrus growers use a variety of methods to help protect their crops. They often utilize massive wind machines to keep the coldest air from settling on the orchard floor. They may also use water to preemptively form a layer of frost protection on the fruit. This is important because we know that while citrus can sustain temperatures well below freezing for several hours, a few degrees difference may be enough to save the crop.
The citrus industry assesses itself a mil fee—a small percentage of production–to pay for county and state regulatory programs that include CDFA’s Division of Inspection Services conducting temperature monitoring in the coldest areas. The Department uses temperature data to determine if crop samples need to be further examined for internal damage. The samples may be held for several days, because freeze damage may take up to 72 hours to show itself in citrus and 5 days for avocados. This precaution helps keep freeze-damaged produce out of the marketplace.
With CDFA and growers working together, every effort is made to ensure consumers are being sold the very best produce California has to offer.