OLATHE — It’s 10 minutes after 2 early Thursday morning and Kerry Mattics inspects a thermometer hanging on a deer fence that surrounds his family’s fruit orchard.
“It’s go time,” he says. “The bottom just fell out.”
The mercury had dropped a full three degrees in just a few minutes, as a thin layer of clouds melted away. With the sudden dip in temperature, Mattics climbs aboard an ATV armed with a propane torch. In the darkness ahead of him, rows of flowering peach, apricot and plum trees now sit below the stars freezing, and each lost degree is costing him money.
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