Calif. Cold Snap Could Mean Higher Citrus Prices

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The cold snap across California could send citrus prices soaring. Record lows were recorded all across the state this past weekend.

In Salinas Valley, temperatures dropped as low as 29 degrees. Farm workers are taking emergency action to protect crops from frost. Prolonged temperatures in the mid-20s or below cause damage to citrus crops.

"It was our coldest night to date," said Paul Story, with Exeter-based California Citrus Mutual, an association of the state's 3,900 citrus growers. "I think mandarin growers are going to see a range of significant damage, enough that they will have to separate their crops."

Fruit such as lemons and mandarins are most vulnerable to shortages and price hikes.

But other crops, like strawberries, avocados, lettuce and onions, could be affected, too.

"They (onions) started at two pounds for a dollar. Now they are up to 89 cents for a pound. It's about 40 cents, it's almost double," produce manager Juan Ramirez said. "It hurts everybody's pockets."

California growers supply grocery stores nationwide with oranges. Florida growers specialize in orange juice.

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