UPDATED: Extensive initial damage reported for south Florida vegetables

01/11/2010 09:13:49 AM
Doug Ohlemeier

Though the industry was assessing damages on Jan. 11, Andrew Meadows, director of communications for Florida Citrus Mutual, Lakeland, said the brunt of the damage occurred  in the north and west side of the state’s citrus belt along Desoto, Hardee and Hendry counties.

He said east and central Florida growing regions — the bulk of the fresh deal — escaped serious damage.

“The reports we are getting tell us there is frozen fruit as well as twig and leaf damage out there now (but) it may be days or weeks until we figure out whether there is long-term tree damage,”  Michael Sparks, executive vice president and chief executive officer, said in a news release. “Complicating the issue is the sheer number of cold days we had in a row. I can’t remember anything like it.”

For citrus fruit damage to set in, temperatures must reach 28 degrees for four hours or more, Meadows said.

Doug Bournique, executive vice president of the Indian River Citrus League, Vero Beach, said constant wind kept temperatures from falling too low and prevented major damage to the region’s grapefruit.

“We got lucky as the wind mixed the air uniformly,” he said Jan. 11. “It’s better to have a little bit of wind all night than no wind because when it gets real still, it radiates out any heat. We would it rather be 28-30 degrees uniformly than to have pockets where it’s colder. On previous nights, we got some spotty cold pockets spotty with very light damage but not significant.”


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