Cold temperatures lead to early citrus harvest

OROVILLE, Calif. - Citrus farmers in the Northstate are scrambling to protect their crop from being destroyed by the frigid temperatures we'll soon be seeing.
One Oroville farmer played it safe this year by harvesting early.

Lou Lodigiani got a head start this harvest season by making sure the mandarin crop at his farm, Til-L Mandarin Farms, was not destroyed potentially saving him thousands of dollars in the process.

Lodigiani has been growing mandarins for 20 years and knows firsthand what frigid temperatures can do to his crop.
"I mean we have been picking since Nov. 11," said Lodigiani. "Only until just the other day did we get word that a freeze was coming out of the northwestern part of Canada."

Lodigiani says a bin full of mandarins is worth $500.   All of that would be destroyed if it froze.
Lodigiani and his company said they have roughly 9,000 pounds of mandarins to pick before the freezing temperatures arrive.  By the end of the Tuesday, most of the fruit will be picked.

"99 percent of what we had on the trees is now picked, undercover or sold," said Lodigiani.
Lodigiani said they take the unsold fruit to a warehouse in Gridley to keep it warm.
"Most of our crop that is not yet sold and out the door in the consumer's hands is undercover waiting to be sold within the next few weeks," said Lodigiani.

Lodigiani said he produced more than 185 tons of mandarins this season.  Another trick, he said, to protect citrus fruit is to cover the fruit with water to prevent it from crystallizing.

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