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Freeze in California citrus areas not severe, no damage expected

The National Weather Service issued freeze warnings for parts of California's San Joaquin Valley, including a number of citrus- and tree fruit-growing areas, for the nights of Feb. 9 and Feb. 10, but temperatures did not get as cold as expected, and citrus growers were able to avert damage by turning on sprinklers and wind machines.

"I called and talked to guys this morning, and it didn't get as cold as they thought it was going to," said Bob Blakely, director of industry relations for California Citrus Mutual in Exeter, CA.

Some locations got as low as 27.4 degrees "for a little while," but in most places, temperatures were a little warmer than that, "so [growers] really didn't have any issues last night — nothing that we would suspect would cause any damage," he said.

Clouds "moved in and out all night" along the foothills and over citrus-growing areas "and kept things out of the danger zone," he said.

The evening of Feb. 11 was forecast to be cold as well, but not as cold as the previous two nights, and the forecast called for gradual warming throughout the week, he said.

About 60 percent of the Navel crop in California remains on the trees.

Skies were clearer and temperatures a bit colder in the central part of the valley. But with just a few exceptions, stone fruit in the valley had not yet started to come into bloom, according to Don Goforth, marketing director for Family Tree Farms in Reedley, CA.

Therefore, the stone fruit was not yet vulnerable to bud or bloom damage from frost.