From a Press Release: Florida Citrus Mutual

LAKELAND, Fla.(February 5, 2009) – Cold weather swept across Florida’s citrus belt last night, however, temperatures didn’t get low enough for long enough to cause significant damage to the crop.


“We feel like we dodged the proverbial bullet,” said Michael W. Sparks, executive VP/CEO of Florida Citrus Mutual. “There will probably be spot damage here and there but in terms of large scale problems, we came through okay.”


Temperatures must reach 28 degrees for a four-hour period to cause damage to the oranges, grapefruit and tangerines grown in Florida. 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 (AWIS) out of Auburn University, 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,” said Fran Becker, Mutual’s president and  VP of  Fruit Procurement at Peace River Citrus Products Inc. in Arcadia.  “Looking ahead to tonight we should be okay 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.”


The USDA is scheduled to issue its latest crop estimate on February 10 which will most likely account for the freeze damage Florida citrus has experienced in the past month. For more information on the estimate visit http://www.nass.usda.gov/Statistics_by_State/Florida/Publications/Citrus/index.asp


The Florida citrus industry creates a $9.3 billion annual economic impact, employing nearly 76,000 people, and covering more than 576,000 acres. Founded in 1948 and currently representing nearly 8,000 grower members, Florida Citrus Mutual is the state’s largest citrus grower organization. For more information, visit www.flcitrusmutual.com.


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Contact: Andrew Meadows at (863) 682-1111 or (cell)(863) 944-4924