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Farmers throughout the region preparing for cold temperatures and more rain

A view from Edna Valley in California
Posted at 6:04 PM, Feb 23, 2023

Winter weather has arrived on the Central Coast causing concern among farmers about their citrus crops.

“Here at Talley Farms the cold weather is going to impact us tremendously," said Ryan Talley, Talley Farms partner.

“So the main crops we’re really worried about are our avocados and our citrus crops. Primarily here in Edna Valley, here in San Luis Obispo, also I’ve heard reports around Highway 41,” said Brent Burchett, San Luis Obispo County Farm Bureau executive director.

Though there are growing concerns surrounding the welfare of citrus crops, grape growers probably don’t need to worry.

“So we’re not worried about wine grapes this time of year because the grapes are dormant, so there’s not fruit on the vine,” said Burchett.

Burchett predicts most vegetable crops, especially those in Arroyo Grande, will also be okay.

There are measures farmers can take to protect their crops if the temperatures dip below 32 degrees.

“There’s things that we can do to mitigate it. If there’s a bigger farm, they probably already have wind machines,” said Burchett.

“So therefore we turn on our wind machines and we beat the cold temperatures with air circulation," said Talley.

According to Burchett, the wind machines work to mix warm air from above with colder air below to keep the temperature above 32 degrees.

Citrus crops are the main concern but Talley Farms is optimistic that the use of wind machines will help maintain a warm enough temperature for the crops.

“Regarding the lemons and avocados, I don’t see us losing anything significant,” said Talley.

However, if they do lose citrus crops, it could create gaps in the food chain driving up prices.

“We like to see sunny skies but this weather is good for us. We need this rain. We don’t want to see freezing temperatures but this is the time of year we’re supposed to be getting rain and believe it or not, we’re still in a drought so every drop really helps,” said Burchett.

Burchett recommends farmers inspect their fields after extremely cold weather or storms so they can report any damage to their insurance provider.