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Crop damage minimal from weekend freezing temperatures

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Marcia O'Connor via Flickr creative commons
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Despite some frost and overnight temperatures as low as 27 degrees in some pockets of Southwest Florida last weekend, Florida’s vegetable and citrus industries are reporting minimal damage.

In anticipation of the cold weather late last week, growers, gardeners, and landscapers covered crops and plants to help protect them from cold-weather impacts.

In an e-mail to WGCU, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Citrus agent in Labelle, Dr. Mongi Zekri, reported “no major damage has been seen on citrus in Southwest Florida. In cold pockets to our area, we saw some damage to new growth.”

In past years, when cold weather has caused frost damage to citrus groves, growers have responded by applying more fungicides in a proactive move to stave off disease and further crop loss.

In December 2010, a series of cold weather events that brought freezing temperatures to Southwest Florida resulted in about $200 million in damage to crops in the region.

A U.S. Department of Agriculture forecast released Jan. 12 finds that Florida’s citrus industry is on pace to produce the smallest crop of oranges in more than 75 years. The report finds Florida growers on pace to produce 44.5 million 90-pound boxes of oranges in the current growing season, down 1.5 million boxes from the agency’s December forecast.

If this latest forecast holds true, that would result in the smallest Florida orange crop since the 1944-45 growing season when the state produced 42.3 million boxes of oranges.

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