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Florida citrus industry dodges a bullet from another cold front

by | February 04, 2009
LAKELAND, FL -- Cold weather swept across Florida's citrus belt the night of Feb. 4, but temperatures didn't get low enough for long enough to cause significant damage to the crop, according to Florida Citrus Mutual.

"We feel like we dodged the proverbial bullet," Michael W. Sparks, executive vice president and chief executive officer of Florida Citrus Mutual, said in a Feb. 5 press release. "There will probably be spot damage here and there, but in terms of large scale problems, we came through OK."

Temperatures must reach 28 degrees for a four-hour period to cause damage to the oranges, grapefruit and tangerines grown in Florida, according to Mutual. Although there were reports of sub-freezing temperatures around the state, in most cases they weren't sustained for four hours.

The Agricultural Weather Information Service out of Auburn, AL, which Mutual uses as a forecaster, accurately tracked last night's temperatures.

"We are still assessing scattered freeze damage to citrus crops from the January 22 event, so I'm relieved that Mother Nature cut us a break this time," Fran Becker, Mutual's president and vice president of fruit procurement at Peace River Citrus Products Inc. in Arcadia, FL, said in the press release. "Looking ahead to tonight, we should be OK as temperatures are forecast to be a few degrees higher; however, we will have good radiational cooling conditions across the citrus belt, and the usual cold spots could see lower temps and heavy frost. We still expect to produce the quality crop that Florida is known for."