Lake County

Florida citrus farmers brace for cold-weather fight to save their crops

LAKE COUNTY, Fla. — As parts of Florida brace for the first hard freeze in several years this weekend, farmers are focused on protecting their crops.

The freezing conditions are coming at a time when Florida’s orange crop is on track to be the smallest since World War II.

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At farms like Showcase of Citrus in Lake County, workers are taking precautions against the coming cold front.

They are hoping that irrigation systems in place will save the trees.

This year, farmers say the citrus forecast will be at a total of around 48 million boxes of citrus produced, which is a far cry from the more than 200 million boxes in previous years.

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Reasons for the shortage include labor shortages and demand.

“We can handle a light freeze, but it’s when we get down below 26 degrees for four hours or more that’s when it really starts to create the damaging effects to the tree and to the crop,” said Josh Arnold of Showcase of Citrus.

He will be relying on an irrigation system to protect his trees when the temperatures drop this weekend.

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This will be the coldest weather this area has seen in about four years, but Arnold has seen worse.

“I don’t think it will be as bad as 1989 when it was 14 degrees on this farm, and it killed every single citrus tree here in Central Florida,” Arnold said.

See more in the video above.

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Karen Parks

Karen Parks,

Karen Parks is a reporter at WFTV.