Cool Temperatures Don't Worry Citrus Experts

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POSTED: Tuesday, January 15, 2013 - 3:46pm

UPDATED: Tuesday, January 15, 2013 - 4:43pm

WESLACO - Cloudy skies and showers go right along with cooling temperatures across the Rio Grande Valley. But dropping temperatures can mean serious trouble for the citrus industry.

Surprisingly, citrus experts aren't too worried at the moment.

"This cold snap, we should be ok," said Dr. John da Graça, Citrus Center Director.

That's because weather over the next few days is only supposed to go as low as mid-thirties, maybe briefly hitting the freezing mark.

Experts said a quick drop below freezing isn't the end of the world. It's only when those temperatures remain at that level of freezing for four or more hours that fruit and trees actually receive damage.

So citrus farmers seem to be in the clear. In fact, they are hoping to get more rain.

"Well it is good to have the rain, we have been so dry. It does disrupt harvesting to an extent. They don't want to pick fruit when it's wet, it can bruise and also get rotten," said Dr. da Graça.

Even with the recent brief showers, Texas and the Valley are still in a major drought.

"Citrus requires quite a bit of water. Sugar cane even more so, they are very water demanding crops. And the water districts don't want to run out of water, so there is restrictions on your water allotments," said Dr. da Graça.

If the drought continues, water districts will have to start seriously restricting water usage.

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