Submitted to: Proceedings of Florida State Horticultural Society
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: January 5, 1997
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Freezes have always been a high risk factor in growing citrus in Florida which is the last major citrus producing area in the U.S. The impact of freezes are vividly addressed in many accountings of economic devastation and destruction of people's livelihoods. Attempts to provide relief have been overridden by severe freezes in the 1980's that caused Florida to lose its world leadership in citrus production and forced the industry to relocate to warmer sites in south Florida. Florida's loss has been foreign competitors gain as market advantages changed to meet consumer needs. Loss of frozen prime citrus acreage to urban development and other interests reinforces the concern of the National Agricultural Lands Study in 1981 that Florida will lose 100% of its prime agricultural land within the near future. The American Farmland Trust questions whether citriculture can survive as a major agricultural player under Florida's growth management plans for the 21st century.
Citrus freeze survival in Florida is a complicated venture that challenges the best in entrepreneurial talents. Freeze warning systems are in a state of transition and continue to evolve through private enterprise with help from state and federal systems coordinated through telecommunications. Research on freeze avoidance and ice tolerance mechanisms are largely focused on inherent and altered gene expression during cold acclimation and the use of water in freeze protection. New industry initiatives help to incorporate research observations into practical application and identify specific areas of opportunity. This target-focused effort stimulates technology transfer in addressing freeze disasters that continue to shift prime citrus acreage into non-citrus activities. Exchange of ideas and observations tend to keep options open and help to develop an acute insight to ensure a sustainable citrus industry capable of providing global leadership in the 21st century.