In response to citrus damage from a late January freeze, the Florida Citrus Commission (FCC) on Feb. 3 lowered the minimum ratio requirement for oranges to 8.5:1 with a minimum Brix of 8 for fresh and processed fruit. Florida Citrus Mutual (FCM), the state’s largest citrus grower association, asked for the emergency action on Jan. 31.
FCM CEO Mike Sparks said the FCC action was requested “to allow flexibility for affected growers to move their fruit to processors and packinghouses.” He said while preliminary reports from growers indicated that damage was not widespread, “there were certainly areas that were subject to colder temperatures, resulting in damage.”
Sparks reported that the emergency rule would go into effect upon certification by Florida’s secretary of state, “anticipated no later than Feb. 4.” The emergency rule (known as 20ER22-1 Orange Maturity Standards – Fresh and Processed) will expire March 20. After that, the regular maturity standards will once again be in effect.
The emergency rule states: “For the period beginning February 3, 2022, and ending at 11:59 p.m. on March 20, 2022, the minimum ratio of total soluble solids to anhydrous citric acid shall be not less than eight and a half to one (8.5:1) on oranges and those oranges must have a Brix value of no less than 8.0.”
In a Feb. 2 action aimed at aiding the citrus industry and other agricultural commodities, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order declaring a state of emergency in many counties where citrus and other agricultural commodities were affected by the Jan. 28-30 freeze. That order specifically gives state officials authority to relax restrictions on commercial vehicles to facilitate an emergency harvest.
Counties where the state of emergency exists are Brevard, Broward, Charlotte, Citrus, Collier, DeSoto, Hardee, Hendry, Hernando, Highlands, Hillsborough, Indian River, Lake, Lee, Manatee, Martin, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Sarasota, Seminole, St. Lucie, Sumter and Volusia.
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