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Valley citrus inspected for freeze damage

ABC30 – January 5, 2015

For the first time since the December freeze, ag officials inspected citrus samples picked from around the Central Valley. Local growers held out hope their fruit did not show any damage.

The cuts into each citrus sample revealed whether any fruit sustained damage. Inspectors gathered at the Fresno County Ag Commissioner’s office to look over citrus from a dozen orchards where temperatures dipped to as low as 25 degrees.

Fresno County Ag Commissioner Les Wright said, “This is our official check and we expect that there would probably be some localized damage out there.”

5% of the mandarin orange sample showed scoreable damage while 20% showed evidence of freeze damage. Industry-wide the damage was minimal. But we saw how damaged fruit starts to dry out from the inside.

Ag Standards Specialist Scotti Walker explained, “You can see all the little juice sacks so when they freeze, when the juice sacks thaw out they burst and that’s what causes the water soaking.”

Protective measures such as wind machines and using water to release the ground’s warmth helps protect the orchards but that was not an option for some growers because of supply cutbacks.

Wright said, “If you don’t have water you’re not going to have that protection.”

Lemons for the most part escaped major damage. As did the Cara-Cara oranges. Inspectors used segment cuts to look inside the fruit. The process helps keep bad citrus out of the hands of consumers.

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