Yakima, WA - During this time of year Yakima Valley has different plants at different stages of their bloom. For the majority of them, temperatures below 32 degrees, like we are expecting tonight, can be damaging to the plant or fruit.
Tonight the Yakima Valley is expecting temperatures between 28 and 32 degrees. This will affect the cities of Naches, Toppenish, Sunnyside and Yakima. With the potential for temperatures to get below freezing, there is potential for vulnerable crops to be impacted.
President of First Fruits Chuck Zeutenhorst said that at this time of year when blooms are farther along, low temperatures can be harmful.
"When you go below 32 right now you could have some fairly significant scarring of the fruit if the fruit's post bloom is starting to develop," Zeutenhorst said. "Right now stuff is close enough to full bloom where you could actually lose the bloom or the buds themselves."
However, there are a few ways to protect orchards from freezing temperatures. When it comes to crops, dew point and humidity levels are important to take into account. That's why one of the methods involves watering orchards over head and under the tree.
When the air is dry, the temperature tends to drop faster, so by adding water, the humidity makes the temperature in the orchard drop slower.
Another way is to use wind machines to push warm air down onto the trees in the orchard.
"Generally the air 50 to 100 feet above an orchard in the evening is slightly warmer than what's on the ground floor so you can with that also gain 1 to 4 degrees with that methodology," Zeutenhorst said.
Farmers can use heaters as well but Zeutenhorst said many people don't do that because of the high cost.
Zeutenhorst said in reality he isn't too worried about the temperature dropping below 32 degrees tonight, but they may do some frost protection just in case.