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Southwest Florida citrus growers are ready for weekend winter blast

Joshua citrus grove
Posted at 6:47 PM, Jan 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-28 11:20:44-05

ARCADIA, Fla. — This weekend, Southwest Florida is expecting a big winter blast. So this begs the question, what could this mean for all the citrus trees we love. Joshua Citrus in Arcadia, where temperatures are expected in the upper 20s, tell Fox 4 News that they are ready

“We are expecting it be pretty cold but we are not too worried about it,” said Caleb Shelfer, Production Manager at Joshua Citrus. He added, "Maybe we will have a little bit of damage, but not much.”

The Joshua Citrus Grove production manager say citrus starts to become vulnerable when temperatures fall below 26 degrees for 4 hours or more.

Shelfer said they use simple sprayer to protect their trees.

“We turn the pumps on and lets the water run and it creates a fog in this orange grove,” said Shelfer.

That fog, Shelfer says, brings the temperatures just above freezing. Which he says is all about finding a happy balance between cold and too cold.

“So You want it cold but don’t want it freezing where it will damage the fruit,” said Shelfer

While the cold does threaten trees, the cold also can make the fruit sweeter.

“Orange trees store sugar in their roots and as it gets cold it starts shooting that glucose from roots into the oranges.”

The more sugar, Shelfer says the sweeter the fruit. The tree also produces ethylene gas, which gives oranges their color.

“Normally people in the grocery store see orange oranges,” said Shelfer That’s what they see all the time. But in reality, not very orange we get is orange. Normally they are going yellow or have a green tint or can be full orange. But it is kind of slim to few on that.”

Shelfer tells me that his crop is doing to well this year and ready to be shipped around the country. Now if you are worried about your plants at home this weekend and can’t take them inside, you can cover them with cloth material. Do not use plastic bags.

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