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Cold still threatens crops in West but it’s easing

January 15, 2013 • National News


Ice covers an orange at an orange grove in Redlands, Calif., Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013. A cold snap that has California farmers struggling to protect a $1.5 billion citrus crop has slowly started to ease, though frigid temperatures were still the norm Tuesday morning throughout the state and across other parts of the West. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — The freeze gripping the West appeared on the verge of easing Tuesday, but farmers who spent millions to protect crops were still assessing damage, some produce prices climbed, and businesses and residents dealt with burst pipes.

The National Weather Service predicted another frosty night, but said temperatures would begin to warm as high pressure moved east.

For a fifth night, temperatures in the San Joaquin Valley, California’s agricultural heart, dipped below freezing, though they were a few degrees warmer than previous nights, said Paul Story of Exeter-based California Citrus Mutual, an association of citrus growers.

Growers, who have about $1.5 billion worth of citrus fruit on the trees, used wind machines to keep warmer air closer to the ground and irrigation to raise temperatures.

Citrus growers statewide spent more than $23 million over five nights to save their crops, the association estimated.

But in some areas, that wasn’t enough.

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