For the Central Valley, 2017 ended on a chilly note. In California, the world’s No.1 agriculture producer, farmers took notice because cold spells can tamper with crops.
The weather was cold enough for the San Joaquin County Agricultural Commissioner to take notice, and staff checked in with vegetable farmers and tree growers. The consensus was only good came from the temporary temperature dip.
In fact, according to Kamal Bagri, assistant agriculture commissioner for San Joaquin County, the cold snap was a positive for local crops.
“The cold weather is needed for certain crops such as cherries,” Bagri explained. And cherries are a major crop for the county, coming in fourth in terms of yield in 2016 (behind grapes, almonds and walnuts).
In the days before Christmas, the brief cold snap hit the Central Valley as freeze warnings blanketed San Joaquin County and temperatures plunged as low as the 20s.
Weather experts predicted the cold spell in the days beforehand, which put citrus farmers across California on high alert, dreading the damage the cold temperatures could cause to crops.
The cold spell was short-lived, and temperatures only dipped below freezing for a few hours.
“Certain crops do require cold weather and it has to be for certain timeframes,” Bagri said, adding cherries need brief cold spells to produce good spring buds. “Usually the freezing temperature will impact citrus. In our county, we don’t have citrus.”