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California sees damage to stone fruit crops

California assesses the damage while bracing for the coldest night of the week so far. Tonight into tomorrow morning will see the lowest temps of the week. Continued frost and freeze warnings will be issued for the majority of the state. wear

Almost everywhere in the San Joaquin Valley will experience freezing temps tomorrow morning. Modesto, Fresno, Visalia and Bakersfield will all dip below 32 degrees, but the good news is the length of time below freezing will be minimal, which should prevent any serious damage to citrus and stone fruit trees.

But the damage to peach, plum, nectarine, cherry and almond crops has already been done. The two-week-long heat wave we had in California back in early February brought on an early start to the flowering stage and now this cold snap has led to a significant amount of bloom drop and damage to early fruit sets.

Tony Taviano of B&B Imports in Fresno, CA, said he projects about 25 percent of the early crop across all commodities was lost due to the cold weather. This will lead to less availability at the beginning of the season out of this region. Taviano also said California is only at 18 percent of normal rain fall so far for the year. A lack of water could lead to growing restrictions in the summer if we don’t have a wet March.

Along the coast of California, the regions of Castroville, Salinas, Santa Maria and Guadalupe will all have minimum temps Saturday morning at or near the freezing point. These areas are mainly veg-growing regions. Get ready for a good supply of Frost Kissed artichokes.

Looking ahead into next week, growing conditions are not expected to get any better. Lows in the mid-30s will continue across the state throughout all next week. There is also a high chance of rain forecasted. Monday there is a 70 percent chance of rain across the state and then another solid shot of rain for Thursday and Friday, March 1-2.

Check with shippers in these areas to see how supplies will be affected, but expect markets to be higher across the board. Rain with lows in the 30s is not a good combination for growing. These conditions are expected to seriously affect production.

Yuma, AZ, and Coachella, CA, will avoid the freezing temps and also the rain. Look to these areas for better quality of veg and also expect to see higher f.o.b. prices out of these regions.

Veg out of Florida and Mexico continues to experience good weather conditions with seasonal temps and no precipitation.

The Weathermelon app offers consolidated lists of global growing regions for each commodity; a 10-day detail forecast for each region; current radar maps (U.S. only); estimated harvest start/end dates for each commodity; monthly average high/low temps for each region; and custom daily alerts for temperature, precipitation and severe weather based on 10-day forecasts.