Citrus Growers Fight Off Cold Weather
CITRA - It's beginning to feel a lot like winter here in North Central Florida. While December was a mild month in regards to the cold, January is singing a different tune. Those who are in the citrus industry worry for their crops.
While today the weather was quite pleasant, don't get too comfortable. The cold is making a comeback to North Central Florida. But what does this mean for those who harvest citrus crops?
Peter Spyke the owner of The Orange Shop in Citra has been in the citrus industry all his life. "And when the automobiles were invented and people started driving on us 301 to come down to Florida for the winter, the orange shop began selling fruit off their front porch."
This was back in 1936 and it's been that way ever since. At the packing house is where the magic happens. The orange shop ships more varieties of citrus than any other place in the world.
Spyke has owned the shop for 13 years-- However there's one thing that threatens his business, the cold temperatures. According to the National Weather Service, North Central Florida is under a hard freeze watch Monday night into early Tuesday. And another hard freeze is possible Tuesday night into early Wednesday.
Spyke says he begins to be on the lookout once temperatures drop to 28 degrees. "The forecast that we have coming up for Monday night is actually for 23 here, so we'll end up harvesting the fruit out of the grove, but now we're concerned about the trees," Spyke said.
And Spyke is worried for good reason, "We're concerned definitely, especially since we have a lot of young trees. In the 2010 we had a series of freezes-- two freezes in January and February of 2010 and then another big one in December," Spyke said.
The back to back freezes caused substantial damage, in fact they lost 75 percent of the trees in their grove. While Spyke is doing what he can to prepare for the weather he is also looking at alternatives.
The Orange Shop is involved with the United States Department of Agriculture and the University of Florida in creating new types of oranges that can sustain the cold. The low temperatures coming in will help test these oranges out.
"Well I mean, events such as Monday night are important events because we're going to find out which one of the trees can survive," Spyke said.
We will be battling cold air asses from the north and warm winds from the south... So expect an alternating weather pattern for this month. But as long the temperatures don't get too cold, the oranges here in Citra should do okay.
For more information on The Orange Shop, click here:
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