Theme: freeze

Weather Report – January 20, 2013

Given how significant this recent period of freezing temperatures has been, we feel very fortunate that we have so far made it through with relatively little damage. While we might not have seen the LOWEST temperatures ever, the recent cold snap may be unmatched in its length — dipping down consistently into the mid-20’s, staying there for many hours of the night, and doing the same thing repeatedly, night after night.

Everything that we have growing right now likes a frost, but not a freeze. Even the frost-hardy crops start to have problems when the temperatures dip to the mid 20’s, especially when the cold lasts for awhile. Cell walls get stressed and sometimes burst when the water inside starts to freeze.

Citrus grows well here, but this is the limit of its zone of comfort in terms of winter cold. Full Belly has three orchards, each with a different micro-climate, spanning a 6- or 7-degree difference in the cold that is experienced. We have never turned on the sprinklers so many times to protect the citrus from freezing temperatures as we have this winter — probably a dozen times since mid-December. We jump out of bed and turn on the water because the ice acts like an insulating blanket, protecting the trees from the colder than freezing temperatures. As the water freezes on the leaves, it also gives off heat, protecting the tree. Our final strategy is to pick some of the fruit when the temperature is predicted to drop. This year we have picked about a quarter of our crop in order to protect it.