Texas: Multi-million dollar citrus industry under threat from recent cold spell

Last Wednesday, Texas citrus growers woke up to chilly news as orange and grapefruit groves showed signs of the freeze. The cold snap covered many things with ice, even in South Texas. The multi-million dollar citrus industry could be severely affected if temperatures dip any further.

Texas Citrus Mutual President Dale Murden, who owns a citrus grove in Harlingen, Texas, performed a quality test by cutting an orange in half. He was pleased to see that it survived the recent cold snap. “Citrus fruit can take five hours at or below 28 degrees,” he noted.

The weather on Wednesday morning teetered around the freezing point with wind chills in the 20s (-7o Celsius), crystallizing any moisture on the surface.
Murden was surprised to find parts of the grove frozen. However, temperatures aren’t expected to dip any further this week. Nevertheless, groves in lower-lying areas will need closer monitoring, as reported in a kvue.com article.

Other than keeping the groves free of weeds or irrigating them to keep trees warmer, there isn’t much else growers can do. But as things stand right now, the $200 million Texas citrus industry has stood its ground.

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