Texas citrus producers prepare for a potentially devastating freeze

Texas citrus producers are dealing with a change in weather conditions this month and fear a big freeze could decimate their crop.

McAllen citrus producer Fred Karle says that not everybody has it, but many south Texas citrus producers are using a system to prepare for the winter.

According to Karle, “A certain number of groves have the micro sprinkler irrigation, and that can serve as some protection for freezing. They run the spray during the freeze and as the water makes ice and gives off heat.”

He says that many are just trying to keep their groves good, healthy, and irrigated.

Now, these steps are being taken to prevent something like what happened in 1983, when Mother Nature came from out of the blue and dealt the citrus producers a very cruel blow.

Karle was around in ’83 when south Texas citrus were devastated by a major freeze.

“Well, that was a surprise attack. The predictions were for weather at least 10 degrees warmer than what it ended up being and it was a windy freeze,” he states. “It just blew in on a Saturday morning and before we knew it, it was below freezing, and we knew we were in trouble.”

He says that the lessons he learned in that and other freezes is that on the last night, the wind stops and the clouds clear, then the trees feel the effect.

He adds, “All the warmth that the trees have and the ground has just radiates up into the atmosphere, and that’s where you get to really killing and low temperatures.”