Georgia and Florida Citrus Avoid Major Freeze Damage

Josh McGill Florida, Georgia, Weather

The Georgia and Florida citrus industries reportedly came through the Sunday morning freeze with no significant widespread damage. In Florida, temperatures in the 20s were the coldest most groves had experienced in several years.

“Everything looks good,” said Lindy Savelle, president of the Georgia Citrus Association. “We got some burn on the top of trees, but very little.” Most of the Georgia citrus crop had been harvested prior to the freeze, she added.

The lowest Sunday morning temperature Savelle heard of was 20 in a grove at Brooklet, which is inland from Savannah and farther north than most Georgia groves. The coldest temperatures in Savelle’s South Georgia groves were 26 and 27. She said most growers used microsprinklers or tree covers, or a combination of the two, to provide freeze protection.

Freeze Damage
Many growers used microsprinkler irrigation to protect trees from freeze damage.

Florida Citrus Mutual CEO Mike Sparks reported “some isolated damage” in Sunshine State groves in colder pockets in flatwoods areas including Hardee, Highlands and DeSoto counties. “There’s more concern about the bloom than any loss of fruit,” Sparks said. “Overall, it appears we came through in good shape.”  

Highlands County Citrus Growers Association Executive Director Ray Royce agreed that growers are most concerned about emerging early flush and bloom. “In general, it looks like everyone made it through okay” other than those flush and bloom concerns, he said. Most Highlands growers ran microsprinkler irrigation Sunday morning to provide freeze protection, he added.  

Gulf Citrus Growers Association Executive Vice President Steve Smith reported scattered bloom damage. “I have not heard of any widespread damage,” Smith said. “However, there are pockets where fruit and tree damage could occur.”

Royce heard reports of low- to mid-20s temperatures in some Highlands groves in the flatwoods. The coldest temperatures he heard of were near the border of Highlands and Hardee counties. “Some of these flatwoods areas seemed to be 7 to 8 degrees colder than on the Ridge,” he said.

The lowest temperature Sparks heard reported in major citrus-growing regions was 27.

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Ernie Neff

Senior Correspondent at Large

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