Following an extremely challenging year for Florida citrus growers, this past weekend showed Mother Nature wasn’t quite done yet. Florida saw another freeze, the second in a month’s time following a freeze just after Christmas.
However, Mathew Joyner is optimistic following the more recent freeze particularly. “Honestly we had enough cloud cover and a lack of duration that it seems like we’ve escaped the worst of that. We’re not hearing any widespread damages as a result of those cold snaps,” says Joyner, executive vice president and CEO of Florida Citrus Mutual. “Because of where we are with things in bloom, it was less damaging than where we would be say three weeks from now. We feel like maybe we skirted through this one.”
Different than Christmas freeze
He notes that last weekend’s freeze saw more frost compared to the Christmas freeze, though those temperatures dipped lower than the more recent weather event. “It didn’t get cold enough though for any duration to have a real impact on our trees. The bigger concern would have been the fruit and where we are at in bloom, it would have maybe knocked some of that bloom off. However that’s early bloom and that may not all be that bad,” says Joyner.
Florida Citrus Mutual represents citrus growers who produce largely Hamlin and Valencia oranges and the season generally starts harvest at the end of March.
This is a challenging start but the latter half of January 2022 had an even tougher start to the year for Florida citrus growers with a freeze dropping to the upper 20s in some parts of the state. Then in late September, Hurricane Ian made its way through the state (and then Hurricane Nicole in early November) and Joyner says Ian particularly hit some of its most productive citrus-growing counties in Florida. “Preliminary estimates are that 40 percent of our crop this season was lost to the hurricane. It was very damaging but we’re hopeful that with this last freeze, that that’s the end of severe cold weather in Florida for the season,” he says.
For more information:
Florida Citrus Mutual