Lake County

Florida citrus farmers assessing damage following recent freeze

CLERMONT, Fla. — It has been a tough year for Florida citrus farmers with the fresh blast of freezing temperatures and the two recent hurricanes battering citrus groves across the Sunshine State.

Despite warmer weather coming our way there’s still time left in the winter season for another freeze giving farmers a lot to still worry about.

Over the past few days citrus farmers have been covering their crops in warm water, in order to manufacture icicles that work like an igloo to insulate and protect the trees.


At Showcase of Citrus in Clermont Josh Arnold helped make sure these trees survived the freezing weather.

Monday was the first day that the ice has melted.

“The cold weather event has come and its gone and we have made it through by the skin of our knuckles,” Arnold said.

Read: Marion County Fire Rescue battles back-to-back building fires on Christmas Day

Arnold and other farmers spent Monday assessing, checking on irrigation systems and making sure no ice formed inside of the fruit in their groves

“As you can see it is beautiful and juicy and fresh as ever. No ice. No ice,” Arnold added.

Arnold says in the next few days they’ll be able to tell whether any of the leaves on the trees have signs of burning but most of the tree cores were saved, meaning no trees have to be replaced.

Read: Bob Saget’s widow, shares details of last Christmas with her husband

It could be a lot worse,” Arnold said. “It’s not a good outlook for this year. Farmers got hit hard.”

Following the freeze and two hurricanes, prospects for citrus production statewide are dim.

USDA data shows that hurricanes Ian and Nicole led to a 30% decrease in orange production and this year production overall is predicted to be half of last seasons.

Read: 9 Things to know about the Cheez-It Bowl and the Cheez-It Citrus Bowl

The USDA said we’re looking at one of the worst years for citrus production in decades.

Click here to download the free WFTV news and weather apps, click here to download the WFTV Now app for your smart TV and click here to stream Channel 9 Eyewitness News live.