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California Freeze Equals High Citrus Costs

By: Pachatta Pope Email
By: Pachatta Pope Email

Temperatures in the 20s have produce growers in California struggling to save their crops, and in particular, their citrus crops. That includes oranges.

Mark Scarmardo is the co-owner of The Farm Patch, and he says growers in California believe they are going to lose 75 percent of their crops. A figure that high, he says, will have all consumers feeling California's loss.

"What little is left is going to be expensive," Scarmardo said.

As a result of the Golden State's orange loss, the country will be relying on the Texas Valley production of domestic oranges because Florida has not been an option for some states.

"This year we have had kind of a double whammy," Scarmardo said. "We have not been able to get citrus out of Florida this year because they have had a disease."

States that grow produce have not been allowing oranges from the Florida in, fearing the leaf disease will infect their planting fields and trees. News of the limited supply has already caused the price to jump.

Scarmardo says just two weeks ago, The Farm Patch was selling an 18-pound bag for $4.99, or 20 cents a pound. When he called his supplier earlier this week, they had already priced a bag of oranges at upwards of $7.

"You're probably going to see 50 or 60 cents a pound on the oranges out of the valley," Scarmardo said.

Cold temperatures across many states may limit the availability of oranges, lemons, strawberries and some vegetables. The wide spread cold snap is also affecting Arizona, which grows lettuce.

Harvesters have not been able to get to the crops, and that is adding to the cost.

Scarmardo says some pickers are having to wait until noon, and the price of lettuce, broccoli and cauliflower have been inching up.

And if you think it will be a couple of weeks until the higher prices for oranges and perhaps other produce to reach you, think again.

"You'll see it immediately in the stores, I imagine, this week," Scarmardo said.


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