SANTA MARIA, Calif. - Cold temperatures are making it difficult for local farmers to grow their produce. So what issues are growers experiencing and what effects can that have on your grocery bill?
Don Righetti of Righetti Ranch fires up the engine of the wind turbine in the middle of an avocado field. The idea is to catch higher, warmer air and blow it down towards the trees during the coldest parts of the night.
"It brings the temperature up by sometimes 3 or 4 degrees," says Righetti. "And that can be significant."
But keeping row crops and leafy vegetables safe once the sun goes down is a different challenge. Ron Labastida of Babe Farms says the larger growing operations on the Central Coast typically just cross their fingers and hope for the best. Protecting every acre of land just isn't an option.
"We have so many acres that we just can't go out at night and perform that type of task," says Labastida.
Labastida says frost causes major stress to the crops that can become damaged and unable to be sold. Labastida said he doesn't expect this cold season damage to Central Coast agriculture to cause a drastic change in the supermarket prices. But current setbacks due to the weather could push prices upwards on produce.
"You might start to see a little lighter supply and that's basically when you start to see the price go up a little bit," says Labastida.
Labastida said that the cold is causing soil temperatures to drop very low. When that happens, the crops literally grow slower. He said it can take more than double the amount of time for a crop to grow in the winter than the summer.
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