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San Diego Crops Mostly Unscathed In Freezing Temperatures

San Diego farmers have been on high alert and working around the clock as overnight temperatures plunged to near-record lows of 21-31 degrees over the past three nights. Temperatures that low, if sustained, pose a serious threat to crops.

Aired 1/15/13 on KPBS News.

San Diego farmers say they’ve dodged significant crop damage following several nights of freezing temperatures.

National Weather Service forecasters expected more than 11 hours of below freezing temperatures in wind-sheltered valley locations, but fortunately, the bitter cold was less extensive than expected.

Eric Larson, executive director of the San Diego Farm Bureau said farmers also dodged significant crop damage with the help of wind machines and water.

"We were mostly concerned in this freeze about the nursery crops and the avocado trees because they’re both fairly tender crops to be grown, but fortunately the freeze protections the farmers put in place and the fact that the weather changed a little bit made a big difference," said Larson.

Larson said there was only minimal damage to some low-elevation avocados.

"In San Pasqual valley and in Pauma Valley, it appears that some avocados may have had some tip burn, may have had some new growth burn back from the cold," he said. "But at this point it doesn’t appear that it was enough to damage the fruit on the trees or to actually harm the trees too much.

San Diego’s overall agriculture industry is valued at $1.7 billion a year. Nursery plants represent $1 billion of that, and avocados, the second largest crop, are worth $150 million.

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