Brown said the bitter cold and frost will set tomato plants back and cause bloom drop that could trim yields for several weeks.
In Immokalee, Richard Levine, president of roma and grape tomato grower-shipper Immokalee Produce Shippers Inc., said the Immokalee area didn’t experience much wind, which usually keeps temperatures from falling too low.
“We have had some freeze damage, and a lot of frost damage,” he said Dec. 8. “Some areas are perfect, while other areas got hit real well. But we are still in business, I can tell you.”
In central Florida, the weather service also forecast freezing temperatures which had strawberry growers running irrigation to protect their berries from freezing.
Mark Greeff, vice president and general manager of the eastern region for Watsonville, Calif.-based Driscoll Strawberry Associates Inc., which grows and packs strawberries from its Dover operation, said initial feedback from the Dec. 7 freeze shows little signs of damage.
“In the coming days, we will see if there is any real damage, especially to the flowers,” he said Dec. 7. “It is a little surprising to see it get so cold so early in the season.”
Growers are worried about next week, the week of Dec. 13, when forecasters predict another arctic front could bring weather to the Sunshine State.