|Published:||Dec 16, 2010 4:26 AM EST|
|Updated:||Dec 16, 2010 1:26 AM EST|
LABELLE, Fla. - Hendry County says every farmer was affected in some way from two nights of below-freezing temperatures, meaning potentially millions of dollars lost overnight.
"I would say almost 100% percent of the crop is affected at some level, said Hendry County Extension Director Gene McAvoy, who describes it as "substantial damage."
Tomatoes, corn, beans, squash and cucumbers were among the crops showing damage following the freeze.
"We have many reports and I saw many fields where the entire field was actually killed outright," McAvoy said.
In the citrus groves, several young citrus trees were burned by frost. Larger trees fared better, thanks to warm water pumped throughout some groves that lifted temperatures, but it could take days before the full impact on the fruit becomes obvious.
"We won't really tell until later, when the heat starts changing," said citrus worker Frank Vega.
The fast turnaround for vegetables from field to dinner plate could turn into a slight price hike at grocery stores, but McAvoy says shoppers may be protected by the large markup in stores.
"The price is liable to triple at the farm gate, the farmer will get 25 dollars a box for tomatoes, which is a dollar a pound," McAvoy said. "You can still afford to sell those in the supermarket at 2.99 a pound."
Based on past years, McAvoy says damage from this freeze could total $100 million, a huge hit for Hendry County, where half the population is tied to agriculture.
"Coming at Christmastime and not having a lot to sell for Christmas is a big hurt for the industry," McAvoy said.
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