Florida growers may have lost as much as $458 million in crops to a January cold snap, according to a state spokesman.
“Through January, we sustained $250 million in lost crops,” Terence McElroy, a Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services spokesman, said today in a telephone interview, citing estimates. “If there isn’t any significant improvement and substantial replanting, it could grow to about $458 million in losses.”
About 632,000 boxes of oranges probably were lost in January, McElroy said. The cold snap destroyed about 105,000 boxes of grapefruit and 984,000 boxes of tangerines, he said. Temperatures fell below freezing on 13 straight days last month, setting records in some areas, according to state data. The U.S. government designated 60 Florida counties as disaster areas.
“Tomatoes may have taken the biggest hit” of all crops, with more than 5 million boxes gone, McElroy said. A box of oranges weighs 90 pounds, or 41 kilograms.
The loss forecasts are based on estimates of what normal shipments should be, McElroy said. The actual output drop will change as some of the fruit may be salvageable.
Florida is the world’s second-biggest orange grower, behind Brazil, and the largest U.S. citrus producer. The state also grows strawberries, sugar cane and a range of vegetables.
By Elizabeth Campbell