Citrus growers hanging on until end of cold snap

Dec 12, 2013 7:24 PM

North State citrus farmers are braving the lingering cold snap the best they can. But not all may have been as lucky as Simmons ranch, a place with a lot of history and currently run by a former Butte County Sheriff's investigator.

Tony Burdine said you won't find a bad orange at Simmons ranch.

Not bad for a cold snap that has damaged a lot of citrus throughout the state of California.

But Burdine, a former Butte County Sheriff and married-into citrus farmer, has prepared.

He said due to this year's extreme weather changes and early ripening, he lost about half of his mandarins.

“This is a big citrus area, a lot of citrus ranches up here both in mandarins and oranges and lemons. Everybody's in the same boat and we’re all pulling for each other to make it though it.”

Simmons farm started in 1927, and even has ties to the oldest orange tree in California, the mother orange tree.

“[My wife’s grandfather] took little small siblings and chutes off the tree, brought them up here and planted them, then grafted them.”

Simmons pulled though a deep freeze in 1979, cutting their citrus tree acreage in half.

It turned their big location, into a mom and pop one.

This freeze, Burdine said, isn't a sustained one, which is what you have to worry about.

“[It’s] one where it never warms up during the day and it goes completely through a cycle and the temperature never raises above freezing.”

And the cold isn’t all bad.

“The cold puts the sugar in the fruit.”

But it's not all good either.

“If Mother Nature's going to take them, it's going to take them.”

Luckily for Burdine, they're still here, and looking pretty darn good

Ag Alert reports that this recent freeze will result in $1.5 billion in damage to the San Joaquin valley's citrus crop. That's according to California Citrus Mutual.


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