Moderate frost damage to Orange County’s multimillion-dollar strawberry, ornamental and citrus crops was reported today after a cold snap brought yet another round of morning sub-freezing temperatures, agricultural officials said.
“Our preliminary data shows that there was spotty, moderate damage to the crops, but we don’t expect there to be record damage,” said Frank Parsons, Orange County’s chief deputy agriculture commissioner.
“It will take three or four days to get a really good estimate on the damage, to see which plants are going to be lost, but right now we can tell there is obviously going to be some dollar loss,” he said.
The crop that appeared to have been hit the hardest, Parsons said, was strawberrys, the largest crop in the county’s $250-million-a-year agricultural industry. The frost in some areas of the county damaged the plants’ blooms, which “effectively kills the first crop.”
Strawberry farmers throughout the county today are preparing for a continuation of frigid temperatures. “They run sprinklers of the plants to raise the temperatures,” Parsons said.
Forecasters said the temperatures will warm slightly tonight and Christmas Day with readings dropping into the low 20s in the coldest areas.
The coldest agricultural areas today included parts of Irvine and San Juan Capistrano where the mercury dropped to the upper 30s and lower 40s, forecasters said.