Lake County

Florida farmers brace for cold weather effects on citrus crops

CLERMONT, Fla. — Florida farmers will be checking their crops all weekend long as they monitor the cold snap.


It has been a tough year already for those farmers.

The trees have survived one night of freezing temperatures, where it got as cold as 29 degrees in some parts of the grove.

Farmers said Friday night was actually not as bad as they feared. They are hoping for some luck with the weather Saturday evening so that they can avoid ruining any of the trees.

Read: Brrrrrr! Temperatures drop below freezing Christmas weekend

Citrus farmer Tara Boshell said it was a long night at the Showcase of Citrus farm in Clermont.

Boshell’s family was hard at work in the early morning helping these citrus trees battle the frost.

The icicles are a sign of the freezing temperatures but are also a big part of the combat strategy.

Read: How Central Florida citrus farmers use ice to protect crops from frigid cold

“We want to protect the tree and again, it creates its own insulation,” Boshell said. “It won’t freeze by freezing.”

It’s all about protecting the tree’s core, as workers started irrigating the Valencia trees around midnight.

They will continue to irrigate and inspect the groves amid a second freeze, once the sun goes down again Saturday night.

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“You can lose the fruit or some of the leaves but if you keep the trunk of the tree healthy, then you have the potential to have fruit, whether it’s the next year or the year after,” Boshell said.

This is on the heels of a hard year for citrus growers. Hurricanes Ian and Nicole battered trees across Central Florida only a few months ago.

And with one night of freeze already in the books, it could be one of the worst citrus seasons since snow damaged thousands of citrus trees in the region back in 1989.

“We went from hurricanes to icicles within two months here,” Boshell said.

Farmers like Boshell said this frosty sight is beautiful and intimidating as they wait to see how these trees will fare through the frost.

“If you’ve got five years invested of your time into a tree and then it can all disappear in one night, its heartbreaking,” Boshell said.

Boshell said after the ice melts, the tree leaves will stay green for a few days but will eventually brown if there has been frost damage.

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