Farmers and orange lovers alike are breathing a sigh of relief knowing that Florida’s crop has escaped unscathed after last week’s lower temperatures put a chill on the state’s citrus groves.
Cold weather can reportedly make citrus sweeter than average. But a few hours of temperatures below 28 degrees Fahrenheit (-2.2 Celsius) can ruin the fruit and even damage the trees. Fortunately, while low temperatures dipped into the 30s over parts of the Sunshine State last week, the mercury remained high enough to keep the fruit on the tree unharmed.
In contrast, according to Florida Citrus Mutual, the 1980s were rough on the state’s citrus harvest. That year, four freezes took place — in 1981, 1983, 1985 and 1989.
- Spanish explorers are largely credited for bringing the orange to the Americas from its origins in Asia.
- Slightly more than 69.5 million citrus trees are grown on nearly 531,500 acres in Florida (source: Florida Agriculture Statistics Services Citrus Summary).
- Florida leads the nation when it comes to growing oranges. According the website AdMRC, the state’s annual orange harvest amounts to about 70 percent of the total U.S. production.
- The vast majority of Florida’s oranges – more than 90% — eventually make their way onto breakfast tables as orange juice.
- Florida’s orange harvest is second only to Brazil.
The 10-day WeatherBug forecast for Winter Haven in Polk County, Florida — the top U.S. citrus-producing county — shows temperatures above freezing, which is good news for growers and orange fans alike.