West Central Florida – Overnight temperatures ranged from the mid to upper 20’s throughout the region and stayed there for more than 10 hours. In the strawberry fields, the sprinklers were turned on between 9:00-10:00 p.m., Monday night and were still operating at 8:30 a.m., this morning. Three sinkholes have been reported so far in the Plant City area and are rather large in size. In Polk County, a massive sinkhole has developed in the Frostproof area and two sinkholes have shut down both sides of US Highway 27 between CR 640 and Hunt Brothers Road. Strawberry farmers may finally be catching a break tonight as the only freeze warnings issued for this region are for Pasco, Citrus and Hernando Counties.
(Cindy Suszko, Regional Agricultural Market Supervisor)
Strawberries - Last night was another long one (12+ hrs below freezing), but temps did not dip nearly as low as Sat or Sun. We pray this was our last freezing night, but we will monitor all fields tonight in case it dips below the danger level. This morning appears the same as previous reports - what little damage evident so far is isolated to spots that experienced some equipment malfunction resulting in irregular water coverage. Plant recovery will take several days, and we will know more later in the week. With today & tomorrow in the 60's and mid-70's over the weekend, some light harvesting will resume as fruit again begins to mature. We will strip off any damaged fruit and believe new blooming will initiate with the warming trend.
(Ted Campbell, FL Strawberry Growers Assoc. Executive Director)
Hardee County’s luck ran out last night. Temperatures dropped to below 28 for 10 hours again and this time there is widespread frozen fruit – both Hamlins and Valencias. To further complicate the harvest, a sinkhole has closed Hwy. 27 N in the Lake Wales area at the intersection of C 640 and two sinkholes have closed southbound 17B.
Most growers have been running their pumps for +/- 140 hours for the last 10 days. This morning there were frozen ice crystals in the air until at least 8:30AM.
Nothing new to report on the strawberries, the water is still running.
Anything in the ornamental nurseries that was not undercover and protected is a total loss.
(Diana Durrance, Senior Market Manager)
Miami-Dade County did not have freeze/frost damage temperatures last night. Previous nights damage continues to become more evident.
(Don Pybas, Director Miami-Dade County Extension)
The End of Report