Cold temperatures the mornings of Jan. 29 and Jan. 30 did more citrus damage than an initial report indicated, Highlands County Citrus Growers Association Executive Director Ray Royce said. Royce issued the following update on Feb. 1:
“The coldest weather in at least four to five years has left much more damage behind in parts of the South-Central Florida region (Highlands and neighboring counties, for example) than perhaps originally reported. The two-night event had some grove locations recording significantly lower temperatures and longer durations than others across the citrus region.
“Temperatures in the low- to mid-20s led to freezing and frosty conditions with significant durations (at least six to eight hours) in many locations during the early mornings of both Sunday, Jan. 29 and Monday, Jan. 30. Those conditions resulted in widespread and considerable small twig, leaf and bloom damage. Potential fruit damage due to icing has also been reported from numerous growers.
“Most of the region’s early-season fruit has already been harvested or is slated for harvesting completion in the coming days, but there is concern about how the Valencia crop in many groves could be impacted by the freezing conditions that were seen on the two consecutive nights.
“It will take some time to fully understand the impact on both the unharvested fruit and the damage to the new flush and bloom that was very prevalent in many locations due to a warmer winter pattern up until the freezing conditions of Jan. 29–30.”
A University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences document publication points out that the symptoms of freeze damage may occur over an extended period of time. The publication also describes freeze symptoms and offers recommendations for tree recovery.
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