SANTA MARIA, Calif. - What are these frigid conditions doing to our local crops? As Central Coast News found it, it can be very bad news for growers and the economy.
For a lot of you waking up early in the morning to go to work, using your credit card to scrape ice off your windshield can be a bit annoying. But for some, that frost is a threat to their business.
C&M Nursery manager Kim Wilenius raises Hass avocado and citrus trees at his nursery in Nipomo. He says, "anything below 32 degrees and they start getting damaged."
Wilenius says these trees are especially sensitive to frost.
"If it's in the mid 20s it can actually kill these trees," he says.
Wilenius says keeping frost off the trees is so important, that he has to have diesel fueled heaters called smudge pots running on the coldest nights. Not only that, he has a temperature alert system in place.
"There is a frost sensor in the coldest area here in the nursery," says Wilenius. "And when it dips below or at 32 degrees it calls us on the telephone."
Ron Labastida is the harvest director of Babe Farms in Santa Maria. He says frost doesn't effect the more durable vegetables like broccoli or cauliflower. But leafy greens are a different story.
"You will see some of the frost burn," says Labastida. "You'll see the discoloration because of the frost."
And the cold temperatures not only cause exterior damage to some crops. According to Labastida, it can literally slow the growing process.
"When it's that cold, its just basically not growing," says Labastida. "Our soil temperatures are even lower than what your daytime temperatures are."
According to San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara county farm bureaus, they don't have any preliminary estimates as to how much damage this current winter season could be doing to crops.
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