Mandarin farmers in Placer County are concerned about what this week’s freezing temperatures could do to their crops.
Dozens of mandarin orchards are nestled among the foothills of Penryn, Loomis, Newcastle, Lincoln and Auburn. The fruit is sweet and perfect for picking this time of year.
The harvest, which began in November, is supposed to last a few more weeks. But now growers are racing to protect the fruit before the hard freeze takes hold. If temperatures dip into the 20s for sustained periods, the fruit on the trees, and even the trees themselves could become damaged.
“If these temperatures do go down, we want to get as much fruit off before that happens,” said Grower Tony Aguilar of Highland Orchard on Tuesday. “We’re doing everything we can, everything we know, and a hope and a prayer.”
Aguilar said the local water district has increased growers’ irrigation allotments so they can hydrate their trees before the freeze, which helps to strengthen and protect them.
Some growers are covering young trees with insulating cloth, according to Rich Colwell, president of the Placer County Mountain Mandarin Growers’ Association.
According to a brochure produced by the association, the mandarins of Placer County “offer high doses of Vitamin C and synephrine – a natural antihistamine that helps relieve cold and allergy symptoms.”
Many of the area’s growers welcome visitors to their orchards this time of year. More information about participating growers is available at this link.