(Jan. 24) Florida’s citrus and vegetable crops seemed to have been largely spared by a freeze the morning of Friday, Jan. 24, shippers say.

All the same, another freeze was on the way that night.

That concerned strawberry growers in the Plant City area, who were busy assessing their fields. As temperatures dropped Jan. 24, winds reached 15 mph.

That caused dry spots in fields that were being irrigated as protection against the cold, said Ila Allen, director of marketing and promotions for the Florida Strawberry Growers Association Inc., Plant City. Some berries will suffer tip burn as a result.

The temperature finally broke above freezing at 11 a.m., Allen said. Many strawberries were still under ice and some might stay that way into the next night.

“It looks like a snow white Christmas in the field,” she said that morning.

Allen said she didn’t think the industry would be able to truly analyze the damages until that Sunday afternoon.

Still, she said, the first night of freezing temperatures wasn’t as bad as growers thought it would be and wasn’t nearly as severe as the freeze of 1989.

Citrus growers agreed. Cold weather leading up to the freeze helped lull trees into dormancy. John Scotto, president Tuxedo Fruit Co. Fort Pierce, said that statewide there may have been isolated areas to fruit on trees, but it didn’t get cold enough for tree damage. In the Indian River growing region, there was even less chance for significant damages.

Though some regions got down to 25 degrees — and though Cape Canaveral was cold enough for a light rain to turn to snow — Scotto said the duration of the cold was limited.

In the Indian River area, the temperature didn’t get below 28 or 29 degrees, he said. Scotto didn’t expect any effects on markets.

Farther south, the cold was even more lenient on crops.

“We’ve still got to make it through tonight, but we’re OK at this point,” said Ed Angrisani, salesman for Gulfstream Tomato Growers Ltd., Homestead, the afternoon of Jan. 24.

Tomatoes were unscathed in Homestead, which got down to 34 degrees, he said. Agrisani said Immokalee, which also supplies the market this time of year, may have had light damages.

Emilio Mirzakhani, general manager of Homestead Pole Bean Cooperative Inc., Homestead, Fla., said its sweet corn and beans didn’t suffer any major damage from the cold.