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Farmers Racing to Save Crops During Cold Weather

Updated: Monday, December 9 2013, 01:05 PM EST
RIVERSIDE, Cali. (Casey Wian, CBS) -- Cold weather sweeping across much of the nation is threatening Californias two billion dollar annual citrus crop.

The first real blast of winter comes amid harvest season at Gless Ranch.
When asked how much of the crop is harvested, "We're probably close to 40%."

There's more urgency this year because freezing temperatures are threatening the family's 7,000 acres of oranges and other fruit, and Californias two billion dollar citrus industry.

"It's not just how cold it gets, but the duration of time.  I don't think it's going to get cold enough to hurt the trees, but it could definitely harm, freeze the fruit.  And we're doing everything we can to beat it."

Growers in California's Central Valley are on edge, staying up all night to monitor temperatures dropping into the 20's, when they spring into action.

A wind machine, powered by a six-cylinder caterpillar diesel engine, creates an inversion layer of air that raises ground temperatures a few degrees.

Growers also warm the ground by saturating it with water. But they must do that before their pipes freeze.  It's a tricky job that Gless refuses to delegate to anyone else.

"I've got a great crew that's with me, but no, no, it's hands-on you gotta be out here."

So far, despite some temperatures in the low 20's, so good.

"You can cut the fruit and check the damage. I mean this is unscathed... it's perfect."

Growers here have spent nearly 7 million dollars battling freezing temperatures.  Gless says he hasn't slept in three days.

"The next week is going to be a tough one, but I think we're going to beat it."

Which means youre less likely to see higher prices at the supermarket.

VIDEO hereFarmers Racing to Save Crops During Cold Weather

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