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Cold Temperatures Bittersweet For Local Citrus Farmers

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NEWCASTLE (CBS13) – The small fire’s flames on the Burgeson Family Citrus Orchard in Newcastle has a big job to do, calming the nerves during this series of frosty nights.

“Well it makes it so every night is a gamble, staying up late looking at the thermometer,” said Dayna Green-Burgeson.

As the mandarin season comes to a close, fortunately most of the nectar does not look rotten.

“We have not lost anything to the frost and I don’t think we will,” said Green-Burgeson.

In fact, a silver lining has been discovered in this cold blast. It’s a sweet surprise from the big chill.

“Whatever doesn’t kill them makes them sweeter. So if you can get the mandarins as close to frozen as you can but not frozen, the trees push sugar into the fruit and it increases the quality of the fruit,” said Green-Burgeson.

But other citrus crops may not be as lucky, just ask CBS13 produce expert Michael Marks.

“I think most people are concerned about the citrus because there are still $1 billion worth on the trees in California,” he said.

But growers may have dodged a disaster. With this cold blast, the timing might be right.

“Now this time of year, if you are going to have a freeze, this is not a bad time to have some cold temperatures,” said Marks.

That’s because a lot of the citrus has been picked, but it will be several days before citrus growers from around the state will be able to tell if any damage has been done. That’s when they’ll open up their fruit to see the fallout, if there is any.

“What they’re looking for is dry cell inside,” said Marks of the potential damage.

In the meantime, the fires will still burn on the Burgeson family farm as growers feel the heat of another frigid night.

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