|Published:||Jan 06, 2011 5:23 AM EST|
|Updated:||Jan 06, 2011 2:24 AM EST|
DESOTO COUNTY - A grove south of Arcadia is picked clean, as growers try to salvage what they can after the damage from the freeze. That damage is becoming more obvious in terms of fallen fruit and damaged leaves on the trees, some three weeks after the freeze.
Time has revealed the affect of the freeze on acres of groves, shriveling young trees, burning leaves and ruining oranges from the inside out.
"We basically get paid on how much juice comes out of each fruit. And when they freeze, it dries out, and that's when the grower will start to lose money," says Justin Sorrells of DeSoto Fruit & Harvesting.
Growers like Sorrells are picking as much as they can for processing, but the fallen fruit is already lost.
"Every orange that drops is a cost out of our community because those oranges pay the grower, and the grower pays the worker, and they pay other expenses around the community," says Barbara Carlton of Peace River Valley Citrus Growers Association.
The full dollar impact won't be known for weeks, growers have to wait to see how much of the late season crop can survive.
Thousands of young trees are likely lost entirely and even the surviving trees could still struggle into next season.
Sorrells says, "it just depends how damaged those trees were if its got enough power, for lack of a better term, to produce both leaves and fruit. Once they're damaged, its one of those bells you can't un-ring."
The USDA will be out across Florida doing its survey over the next week. After that, releasing its report on the citrus damage after this freeze. What comes from that report then could play a role in prices, particularly what growers get from processors, and that then could translate into what you pay at the grocery store.
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