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Farmers Worry As Valley Prepares For Cold Snap

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Ahead of this week's expected freeze watch, the valley is preparing for frigid temperatures.

For farmers, every blossom equals a piece of fruit, says Michael Marks, a produce expert.

"Weather right now is going to determine what our crops are going to look like not only this summer, but also this fall and this winter," he said.

A mild winter means nut and fruit blossoms arrived earlier than expected because of a lack of chilling hours, which is when temperatures dip below a certain degree for a specific time.

Now that they are out, any severe weather could knock them down leading to lower yields and ultimately driving up produce prices for consumers.

The approaching cold snap is also a concern for Jim Etters, director of land management for the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation in the Capay Valley where they grow almonds. He oversees 16,000 acres of tribal land.

When it gets below freezing, freeze damage can happen at this stage in the bloom, he said.

"The one thing that we try to do is put a little bit more water in the trees. It tends to warm up the ground a little bit more," Etters said.

He says a degree or two can make a big difference when it comes to frost.

Frigid weather also means people will need to get out of the elements.

The Capitol City Seventh-Day Adventist Church is opening its doors for the second year in a row to double as a warming center. It starts Monday night and goes through Saturday morning.

"We want them to feel like they're at home," said Carol Herbert. "We love doing it because it's helping people and we can see they're appreciative of what we are doing."

It hopes to get between 15 to 20 people each night.

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