January 4, 2010

Preliminary Freeze Report

Following is a very preliminary freeze account as reported by AG-ER response teams around the state. At this time it is way too early to determine any type of crop damage; however, we will keep you informed of anything that we hear and report it as soon as possible. (Updated 2:00pm)

Citrus & Nurseries:
Citrus growers had to turn sprinklers on their crops. For citrus growers and ornamental nurseries, even the long cold snap poses little threat to their crops. A citrus freeze has to get to 28 degrees for at least four hours to cause damage. "We're going to be anxious tonight, but our forecasters are saying it's not going to be cold enough for long enough." (Andrew Meadows, Florida Citrus Mutual, the state's largest growers' representative)

They had started their crop with almost perfect weather thru Christmas, and now a very cold week! Some strawberry growers watered a little on Sunday morning, but probably all were running overhead irrigation this morning. Temps in the 27-28 range in the primary strawberry growing areas this morning, but the sprinklers were generally turned off by 9 AM as the sun warmed things up a little. At this point, it appears they have minor water damage to some fruit typical of overhead irrigation. However the prediction is at or below freezing every night but one through Sunday 1/10. That's a lot of watering which will temporarily weaken any mature fruit. Cold will also delay maturity, slow the harvest, create some irregular shapes, and possibly cause a gap in production next month due to bloom loss this week. At this time they expect temperatures to be mitigated by overhead irrigation - provided the winds stay low during the night so water coverage is evenly distributed. Bay area farmers kept vigil over their plants early Monday, with strawberry growers turning on sprinklers to create an insulating blanket of ice. In Dover, Tony Chavez, of Tony Chavez Farms on Highway 60, grows festival strawberries. He turned his sprinklers on at 2 a.m. He said none of his plants appeared to be damaged, but he wouldn't know for sure for a while. (Ted Campbell, FL Strawberry Growers Assoc.)

In South Florida they have cut off stone crab purchases for now. The meat sticks to the shell when it is cold. Also the crabs don’t move around much when it’s cold. Just a few king mackerel fishermen are out. Larger boats that have heaters are out, smaller boats have stayed in. Off the Panhandle coast no problems are expected. In the case of clams the biggest problem with the cold would be mortality of small seed in a hatchery or land-based nursery.

Tropical Fish:
Ponds were covered, heating on in the buildings, warm water being pumped in the ponds. One farm reported cichlid, danio and pleco floaters this morning. So far everything is o.k. but with extended cold there probably will be some damage. At this point it is too early to tell and if damage occurs it will be a couple of weeks before extend is know. For those in the industry who do not have adequately covered ponds and circulation systems. there could be catastrophic losses.(Imperial Tropical Farms; Urban Tropical Inc.; Liles Tropical Fish;Rawlings Tropical Fish; David Boozer, Director of Florida Aquaculture Association)

Putnam/St.Johns/Flagler-Tri-County Area:
To early to tell if any damage yet. Temperatures reached 27 degrees in Palatka/Hastings area(Putnam Co.). Most potatoes crops should be okay. Most seed is covered in the barn or in the ground. Growers will be assessing any damage this week. (Terry Driggers,State Farmers Market)

Central FL:
While the temperatures were near freezing Saturday night into Sunday morning, the Plant City/Dover area was spared freezing temperatures due to overcast skies which held temperatures just above the freezing mark. No sprinklers were turned on the plants that night. Last night cloudy skies prevailed once again; however, temps dipped a bit lower reaching 29 degrees in Brandon, 28 degrees in Dover and 30 degrees in Plant City. Sprinklers were turned on the berry plants in most fields at approximately 3:00 to 4:00 a.m. and will continue to approximately 8:30 to 9:00 a.m. Some fields have frost blankets over the crops to keep from having to turn water on them. This method has proven to work well last year for one of Hillsborough County’s major strawberry grower. Tomato growers have placed hay on and around their tomato plants to protect them from the frost and freezes that we are anticipating throughout this week.Wauchula reports very few citrus growers ran their pumps but they are keeping a close eye on it tonight and tomorrow night. What cucumbers there were left were destroyed but the tomatoes and hard squash are okay.
Another freeze warning will go into effect tonight for all local counties, except Pinellas, beginning 1:00 a.m. until 9:00 a.m. Tuesday morning with a hard freeze expected for our northern counties; Citrus, Hernando and Sumter. Skies are beginning to clear; meaning temperatures could go even lower tonight than last night. Local weather forecasters are predicting Tuesday night/Wednesday morning to be our coldest yet.
It is way too early to determine any type of crop damage. (Cindy Suszko, Plant City Farmers Market)

Palm Beach County Area:
-- All vegetables are fine. No cold damage to corn and no damage reported from any tropical fruit growers.

All the farms /growers have learned a good lesson from the January 22 freeze last year, and they all had water tables up for this cold front coming in. All the tropical groves here also have microjects and reservoirs/ponds full. Some farms that have large acreage of corns and beans also reserved helicopters yet didn't have to deploy them last night. (David Sui, IFAS)

S.W. Florida:
Cloud cover kept temps warmer than forecast last two morning around SW Florida - low yesterday around 37 - today 34 with very light frost on vehicles - crop damage only to very sensitive items like basil which was not covered - other vegetables fine so far but cloud have cleared and tonight could be worse. (Gene McAvoy, Hendry County IFAS)

1 comment:

  1. Miami-Dade:
    No damage to report.
    Mary Lamberts (Miami-Dade County IFAS)