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Florida’s oranges survive low temperatures

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Sunday night’s chilly weather apparently did not affect citrus trees here.

The trees can tolerate below freezing temperatures for about four hours before serious damage occurs, said Fred Gmitter, a University of Florida professor of citrus genetics and breeding. According to the Weather Channel, it was 28 degrees in Gainesville Sunday night.

The National Weather Service issued a hazardous weather outlook Monday for parts of the Southeast, including the Florida Big Bend and Panhandle. The day began with temperatures below freezing, the report stated.

Depending on the condition of the citrus trees and fruit, ice can form. Gmitter said this does not immediately hurt the fruit but can cause the top end to dry out. Growers must quickly harvest the citrus after this occurs.

A dormant tree can last in colder weather without serious damage, Gmitter said, but extremely cold weather can kill branches and trees.

Gmitter said citrus trees should be fine because Florida has had a mild winter this year.

“It’s certainly been warmer than normal,” he said. “The freeze we had last night didn’t get nearly as cold as people had predicted.”

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