California Citrus Growers Fight Off the Cold

The current cold snap is a concern for growers statewide, with an estimated $1.5 billion in fruit still ripening in groves from the Inland Empire to the Central Valley, according to the growers association California Citrus Mutual.

Citrus growers in east Redlands and Mentone fired up oil-burning smudge pots, some for the first time since January 2007, to protect their fruit and trees from below-freezing temperatures before dawn on Sunday. 

The current cold snap is a concern for growers statewide, with an estimated $1.5 billion in fruit still ripening in groves from the Inland Empire to the Central Valley, according to the growers association California Citrus Mutual.

Frost was in the forecast for Altadena last week and Patch shared these tips from local Lori Paul on how to help protect plants and animals.

Old-school smudge pots burned and glowed in rows in a grove next to Citrus Avenue in east Redlands before 6 a.m. in pre-dawn darkness. Growers also had water flowing in the groves to keep ground temperatures warmer, and some of the water formed ice on trees and fruit.

Wind machines on towers, some driven by modified auto engines, droned overhead in many groves.

Dale Daniels, 51, oversees about 10 acres in Mentone. He was with another grower before 7 a.m. in a grove off Third Street east of Crafton Avenue.

"My family's been working citrus here for generations," Daniels told Redlands-Loma Linda Patch. "I've done it probably 30 years. We smudged here too. There's some pots going in the back, and you can hear the wind machines going.

"It was like 25 overnight, a couple hours it seemed like," Daniels said. "It's heated back up in the safe zone right now. It was '07 the last time we did this. We kept the heat up above 29, to about 30 degrees, which is safe zone. It was very cold tonight though."

Ben Castro, 65, was driving on Citrus Avenue before 6 a.m. and stopped to ask how cold it was. He said he grew up on Sapphire near Colton Avenue, working in the groves sometimes with his father.

"It warms my heart to see the smudge pots going," Castro said. "I grew up in the citrus industry here. When I was a boy we got out of school to go out smudging at night, and to fill pots during the day for the next cold night.

"I started smudging when I was 9 years old, went out with my dad," Castro said. "My dad worked for Bob Payne, which is this grove right here. Last time I remember seeing them smudge was in '07, up on the corner of Crafton and Colton Avenue. . . .

"Lemme tell ya, I used to work with my dad who used to haul oranges for Payne as well," Castro said. "Redlands used to be the navel orange grove citrus capital of the world. They used to ship out a hundred box cars of citrus every day at the peak of the season. A lot of history here."

A representative with California Citrus Mutual in Exeter, Tulare County, said Sunday the freeze was a worry for commercial growers statewide, but so far it was not as bad as expected.

"It is a concern," Alyssa Houtby of Citrus Mutual said in a phone interview before 9 a.m. Sunday. "In the past three days growers in the San Joaquin Valley have spent $11.4 milion in frost protection."

Houtby was surprised to hear of smudge pots being used in Redlands and Mentone, and emphasized that has not been the industry standard for decades.

"We don't use smudge pots any more," Houtby said. "We run water to warm up ground temperature and use wind machines to circulate the warm air. We stopped smudging in the 1960s. There are some places where they still smudge. But that's not the industry standard for reasons of air quality and effectiveness."

Houtby said $1.5 billion worth of fruit - about 75 percent of the citrus crop statewide - remains on trees, still to be harvested.

Avocado growers in east Redlands also used propane-burning heaters early Sunday in a grove near Highland and Opal.

Areas of frost and below freezing temperatures are possible again Sunday night and Monday night in wind-sheltered areas of the Inland Empire, according to the National Weather Service.

Sensitive plants and crops may be damaged or killed if unprotected, forecasters warned.

One of the last times growers smudged in east Redlands and Mentone was during a cold snap in January 2007. Growers lost 60 percent of the state's citrus crop due to freezing temps that month, according to industry officials.

East Redlands and Mentone are in San Bernardino County, about 70 miles east of downtown Los Angeles.

How is the cold affecting you?

not Carl Peterson lll January 14, 2013 at 11:19 PM
Darn that global warming!!! Well, it's a good thing they took that evil Bronkaid Mist of the market, and out of the hands of those evil-doer Asthma suferers. Because we people of Earth want to breathe! Uh, oh wait...heh?
SteveB January 14, 2013 at 11:52 PM
Can't give it a rest, eh, Marty? Hey, it looks like 2012 was the hottest year in U.S. history .... http://science.time.com/2013/01/08/2012-was-the-hottest-year-in-u-s-history-and-yes-its-climate-change/
not Carl Peterson lll January 15, 2013 at 04:29 AM
No,.. the hoax has peaked. But not over. Now lets see. Steve-the man who refused to look at any data of mine still is at it? And now we have NOAA, who claimed that 2010 was the hottest. Remember noaa-gate 2010? They were proven to lie by cherry picking data, and went back to work as if nothing hapenned. Now they pick one part of the world, the U.S. ...But remember the global warming debate is..global. If we can pick areas, letsd pick Los Angeles last night record cold .Alaska for 2012? They are backed up by the "union od concerened scientists" a left wing group that started as an anti-nuclear gruop who moved on to the Global warming debate when the Soviet Union broke up and the money moved to thi9s movement. GW money is a billion dollar business paid by our tax dollars. Some of my statements above may or mauy not have the usual degree of checking as I can get a bit tired of explaining the same facts to people who screem GW and never taking five minutes of time to actualy check anything. Steve, I know you are a smart guy. The truth is not that deep. Not a 911, truther, birther blah blah....But yes a bit disturbing how this all came about. And how the tens of thousands of scientists who don't follow GW do not get air play.....sooner or later, it bubles to the top.....
not Carl Peterson lll January 15, 2013 at 04:35 AM
Here is the VERY SIMPLE graphic. If this chart is true, Can one run away from questioning global warming? http://ivo.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2008/04/hockey-stick-broken.png It is the hockey stick by mann, verses the real data. remember climategate 2009? But no, everyone justs let the lie continue and forgets the whole thing This is the basis for almost everything abpout global warming and it was a complete fraud,,,,ohhh....geez......someone pass the advil.
SteveB January 15, 2013 at 06:44 PM
Marty-the-dude who looks at data from conspiracy sites ;) ... NOAA has been tracking this data through Republican administrations and Democratic administrations. If you want to take the conspiracy point of view, it has to be supported by both the left and the right, and you know the right doesn't take kindly to that point of view (for the most part). I think the point of highlighting the US is .. because those of us in the US are interested in what is happening in the US. Most don't really care if glaciers are melting, or what is happening in Australia, etc. And of course there is a distinction between weather and climate - you highlight last night's cold temps - but one of the main points of those who are concerned about rapid change is that it will lead to an increase in extremes - extreme temperatures (both cold and hot), extreme storms, etc. P.S. I have looked at the data you linked to - and usually comment on it, and/or give links to pages/arguments rebutting those you link to - but apparently they were, in some cases, a little too technical. Which begs the question, how does the lay person come to an understanding of such topics - not to mention our policy makers. The lack of scientific understanding exhibited by some on the house science committee was truly disturbing.
SteveB January 15, 2013 at 06:56 PM
The figure reflects a change in understanding regarding historical temperatures - are you saying that whoever publishes their estimate first must of course be exactly right? That data is shown on the wikipedia page, by the way: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hockey_stick_controversy (I know, I know - you have serious concerns regarding the editors-in-charge of the wikipedia pages - but note they are showing the same data) It is not just Mann, by the way. And I do remember "Climategate". Some poor choices made which ultimately didn't change the result significantly - but gave a lot of ammunition to those who wished to discredit the work. It certainly was not "the basis for almost everything about global warming" - it was the iconic figure used to illustrate the rapid changes which are occurring - and the is another key point which is generally overlooked - it is not the magnitude of the change that is of greatest concern, but the rate of change ... anyway, enough sparring for now.
not Carl Peterson lll January 15, 2013 at 10:57 PM
The simple chart above....what change? The chart (that the emails of them specifically talks about lying), is fraud....not "a poor choice" Linking me with "conspiricy" sites is a nice box to throw my facts in. I have tried to bring the horse to water. It is up to you to drink
SteveB January 16, 2013 at 12:17 AM
Scientific understanding changes all the time. Once it was thought the world was flat - now it is understood to be more or less round. Whatever shenanigans Mann et al. may have engaged in, the basic result has been independently repeated: http://www.skepticalscience.com/broken-hockey-stick.htm Re the conspiracy reference, Marty, that was intended to be conveyed in the same manner as your "Steve-the man who refused to look at any data of mine still is at it?" - which I at least hoped was good natured. With the onslaught of drought afflicting various regions of the globe, there won't be any water for horses to drink ....
not Carl Peterson lll January 16, 2013 at 03:57 AM
So we agree that Michael manns hockey is based on lies? Evidenced by the emails among them was the "hide the decline". But you still believe the hockey stick because of the work by others. The site you linked does not show were how specificallt the data was gathered. It also uses fragmented data,using one method,then switrching to another. The real chart Has the medival warm period and the mini ice age. I don't have time right now to found out all the details of your link. And yes, we are good. Your comments are always taken in a good light Although I may be a bit strong at times, it is also in the spirit of fun. I have been to your link before. Perhaps soon I can get a clear answer that might be a game changer...... Thanks


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something