Cold snap threatens Florida crop

MIAMI — US government forecasters posted a freeze warning for parts of Florida’s key citrus-growing region for the second straight day today as a cold front threatened to push temperatures in central and northern regions of the Sunshine State well below freezing.

Robert Garcia, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Tampa Bay-Ruskin, said temperatures were unlikely to drop low enough and long enough to cause any significant damage to the state’s $9 billion citrus industry.

Below zero

But he said the cold snap could see temperatures fall below 27 Fahrenheit (minus 2.7 Celsius) by tomorrow morning.

Typically, citrus can be damaged by four hours or more of temperatures below 28 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 2 Celsius).

“We’re not thinking we’re going to see that,” Garcia said.

Freeze watches and warnings were in effect for much of Florida’s citrus-growing regions through tomorrow morning.

Garcia said the only real threat of a hard freeze was in extreme northern regions, on the periphery of the state’s most productive orange groves.

“A lot of the areas that grow citrus will hopefully stay a lot warmer,” Garcia said. (Reuters)

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