H-ARROYO GRANDE

Dec 3, 2013 9:18 PM by Victoria Johnson

Overnight low temperatures could damage coastal crops

The change in weather this week at the coast could affect a whole new set of crops, such as citrus trees and avocados.

Some crops may be more susceptible than others to the overnight low temperatures in the low 30s and even into the 20s in the coastal valleys.

"But if it is a hard freeze, then we could see damage and you may not see it for a couple of months down the road," says Tom Ikeda, Vice President of Operations, Ikeda Brothers.

He says the duration of the freezing conditions could damage crops. Ikeda Brothers is the biggest grower of Napa cabbage in California. They farm 800 acres of fruit and vegetables in the Arroyo Grande valley including avocados, spinach, cilantro, parsley, and red and green cabbage.

"Anything that damages that fruit set impacts our production and could impact profitability," said Ikeda.

"Crops near the coastal valley, such as citrus and avocado, are the folks that will be paying attention. Now, what is critical is how many hours are we at freezing or sub-freezing temperatures," said Dave Hovde, KSBY Chief Meteorologist.

When cold weather sets in, wind machines are important as they can save crops.

"Things we do to try to mitigate that is keep the plants hydrated. We will be irrigating today and tomorrow to give them a few degrees more protection," said Ikeda.

But for the Ikeda brothers, it's a waiting game.

"The small crops you won't know are damaged, the marketability, until right before harvest," said Ikeda.

It's crops like spinach, citrus and avocados that may be more impacted than Napa cabbage which is a heartier plant. It can better withstand cold temperatures and it is also closer to harvest time which will be next week.

The overnight low records for this week were set back in 2011. Similar temperatures are forecasted for this week, which could be potentially damaging to crops.

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