Make your home page

Almond crops at risk in California freeze

A bowl of almonds. (Rimu Ahamed/Getty Images)

 SACRAMENTO, California (KOVR) — Farmers last week said a winter freeze is chilling profits from the almond crop.

“It’s gut-wrenching,” said almond farmer Kelli Evans.

Tim Taylor said, “It was a huge surprise! Look at February, look at January, it’s been dry, it’s been warm.”

Evans and Taylor own Evans Farming in Live Oak. The cold snap is freezing their almonds during blooming season, killing them before they ever make it to harvest.

“Our top concern is trying to figure out how we are going to pay the bills this year if we don’t have a crop,” Taylor said.

The couple was working around the clock to try to fight the frost with irrigation.

“We can raise the temperature 1 degree maybe 2 degrees and even at 28 degrees we are seeing massive crop damage,” Taylor said.

The costs are mounting for the company, which is bracing for losing large profits this year.

“I feel nauseated. It is just the uncertainty and then trying to plan, reevaluating and recalculating our budgets,” Evans said.

Mel Machado at Blue Diamond Growers says the subfreezing temperatures are coming at a terrible time.

“You hate to see this happen,” Machado said. “There are early bloomer varieties that are well beyond peak and they are more susceptible so that all gets rolled into a calculation about what the total impacts are,” he said.

Almond growers already dealing with the drought are now dealing with this latest setback.

“It’s creating one after another economic impact on us that we are hoping, everyone hopes we can recover from,” Evans said.

Almond growers say it will take a week or two to assess the total impacts.