Farmers on Alert as Storm Dips Temps in Florida

Residents woke up to snow flurries on Wednesday as a result of a cold front that has taken over much of the country, including North Florida (Courtesy Twitter / @TimBeckTLH and Instagram / @eloralynw)

(Published Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2018)

As a winter storm pushes cold temperatures deep into Florida, farmers across the state are on alert.

Citrus trees survive until temperatures fall to 28 degrees or less for at least three hours. So far, forecasts don't show that happening in the Florida citrus-growing belt from Interstate 4 near Orlando and to the south.

Both citrus and strawberry growers protect their crops by running irrigation systems once the temperature dips toward 32 degrees. The freezing water creates ice, which releases heat that protects the fruit.

Strawberry growers typically run irrigation systems to "ice" the fruit at least once per season. There are about 8,000 acres of strawberry farms in the state, which is the second largest strawberry producing region in the U.S., according to the Florida Strawberry Growers Association. Most of the berries are grown just east of downtown Tampa.