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As chilling temperatures take over, farmers keep watch on their crops

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Soreath Hok
Cherry blossoms in Fresno County.

Read the transcript for this report below.

ALEX BURKE, HOST: With winter storms continuing for the next few days, farmers are hustling to protect their growing fruit. KVPR’s Kerry Klein reports on what’s at stake.

KERRY KLEIN: You know those gorgeous blossoms we’re seeing on almond, orange and peach trees? Those give rise to baby fruit, and they can be damaged by frost and freezing temperatures. According to Ryan Jacobsen, CEO of the Fresno County Farm Bureau — even worse is hail.

RYAN JACOBSEN: You can wipe out a complete crop before it even gets started because it just completely knocks off the blossoms there.

KLEIN: Weather could affect another factor, too: Bees. Right now as many as 90% of the country’s bees are in California to pollinate almond trees. But bees can’t fly when it’s colder than around 55 degrees.

JACOBSEN: There’s several days where we’re looking that the highs may be in the high 40s there, which means that very little pollination’s going to be done during that window.

KLEIN: Best case scenario? Pollination just happens a little later than usual – as long as the blossoms stay on those trees.

For KVPR News, I'm Kerry Klein.

Kerry Klein is an award-winning reporter whose coverage of public health, air pollution, drinking water access and wildfires in the San Joaquin Valley has been featured on NPR, KQED, Science Friday and Kaiser Health News. Her work has earned numerous regional Edward R. Murrow and Golden Mike Awards and has been recognized by the Association of Health Care Journalists and Society of Environmental Journalists. Her podcast Escape From Mammoth Pool was named a podcast “listeners couldn’t get enough of in 2021” by the radio aggregator NPR One.