EXETER, Calif. - A week of freezing temperatures in early December wiped out nearly a quarter of California's $2 billion citrus industry, an industry group estimated recently.
The group, California Citrus Mutual, said the damage was confined to the state's Central Valley, where about $441 million in mandarin and navel oranges and lemons were lost during seven consecutive nights of freezing temperatures.
Consumers are likely to see at least a slight increase in the price of oranges at the grocery store and can expect a shorter season for California citrus, the group said.
Temperatures fell into the low 20s during the freeze, forcing growers to turn to irrigation and wind machines to propel warm air through the fields. The cold temperatures also put other crops such as lettuce and avocado at risk.
California Citrus Mutual said about 20 percent of the mandarin crop had already been harvested when the freeze set in, but about $150 million in revenue was lost from the remaining oranges. The navel crop suffered a $260 million loss and about $24 million in lemons were lost.