PLANT CITY, Fla. — The week of abnormally cold temperatures that have struck Florida isn’t over.
Florida grower-shippers are preparing for some of the coldest nights in years as another strong cold front is expected to move through south Florida the evening of Jan. 8 with more freezing temperatures likely the mornings of Jan. 9-10 across the state’s interior regions where most of the produce is grown.
According to weather forecasters, temperatures in Plant City, the U.S. winter strawberry production capitol, are predicted to hit in the mid-20s during both evenings.
The National Weather Service forecasts a hard freeze for central Florida and for south Florida, overnight temperatures are expected to hit around 30 degrees in the Belle Glade and Immokalee tomato and vegetable growing regions.
The weather service says freezing temperatures for those regions are expected to hit in the normally colder spots.
Jim Monteith, sales manager for Pacific Collier Fresh Co., Immokalee, said the freeze damaged some of Pacific Collier’s older squash plantings.
“The new plantings seem to be okay with no damage,” he said Jan. 8. “The pepper fields appear to be okay as well. We are in the process of covering up fields today (Jan. 8) and tomorrow in preparation of the coming cold weather.”
Monteith said it is too early to provide an estimate on damages.
Georgia grower-shippers are also keeping an eye on the deep freeze that’s struck the Southeast.
“We are continuing to watch the weather, said Charles Hall, executive director of the La Grange-based Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association. “We don't think it will be too serious of a problem, but we're all concerned about it.”
In Florida, growers fear the arctic temperatures could harm their green beans, sweet corn, bell peppers, eggplant and tomatoes crops.
“Growers will be following the same drill as they have all this week to brace for the weekend cold temperatures,” said Lisa Lochridge, director of public affairs for Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association, Maitland. “They'll be taking every precaution possible, and everyone's hoping to make it to the other side of this without extensive damage. We definitely need Mother Nature to give us a break.”
Freeze watches and warnings can be found at the National Weather Service Web site.