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Florida citrus crop unharmed by cold weather: Growers’ group

Cold weather overnight did not harm oranges and other fruit across Florida's citrus-growing regions, the state's leading growers association said on Tuesday.

"We came through fine. It didn't get cold enough, for long enough anywhere in all our different regions," said Andrew Meadows, a spokesman for Florida Citrus Mutual.

Typically, citrus can be damaged by four or more hours of temperatures below 28 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 2 Celsius) but Meadows said that had not happened, even in northern citrus-producing regions of Florida.

Low temperatures in the heart of the orange production region ranged from the middle 30s Fahrenheit to low 40s, said U.S. meteorologist World Weather.

(Read more: Airlines cancel flights as cold hobbles operations)

Frozen oranges with misters running to avoid as much damage as possible during a cold snap affecting the San Joaquin Valley citrus crop, Dec. 6, 2013 in Traver, Calif.Gary Kazanjian | AP

"Similar to slightly cooler tonight with no significant damage expected," said Drew Lerner, senior agricultural meteorologist at World Weather, in an email to Reuters.

Meadows said, "Actually, chilling days like this can be good for the fruit. It sweetens them up. It's supposed to heat up a couple of degrees, one or two degrees tonight, so we're optimistic," Meadows said.

He did not elaborate, but even when orange groves are mauled by a freeze the fruit is usually salvageable but will yield less juice than normal.

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"While temperatures did drop below freezing across far northern portions of the citrus belt, lows were mainly in the lower 30s in these areas and any damage is likely to be very limited," said Kyle Tapley of MDA Weather Services in an email.

Expectations for a potential frost on Monday caused the frozen concentrated orange juice market on ICE Futures U.S. to jump more than 3 percent to a three-week high on concern about Florida's citrus groves, though they later pared gains.


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