BEACON PHOTO/MARSHA MCLAUGHLIN
A TASTE OF WINTER — Marshall's Groves owner Dick Marshall offers a visitor a sample of his citrus.

Unlike prior Christmas freezes — such as 1983 and 1989 — the latest arctic cold snap did not damage Volusia County’s citrus crop, according to a local grower.

“I would say, very well,” Richard Marshall replied, when asked about his crop’s condition following three nights of a hard freeze.

Marshall, who owns a citrus grove southwest of DeLand, said his trees were spared from frost forming on the trees and the fruit on Friday night and early Saturday morning.

Marshall said he protected his trees by spraying water on them. The frozen water coats the wood of the trees and the fruit with ice that insulates them against temperatures below 32 degrees.

“We made a lot of ice,” Marshall said.

Thankfully, too, though the temperatures in the grove dropped to 28 degrees on Saturday night and 30 Sunday night, there were clouds that kept frost from forming.

Although the worst of the latest freeze has passed, Marshall said this year’s citrus crop is “super-light,” largely because of weather conditions earlier this year.

“We had a wet spring. January, February and March were wet,” he recalled.

The rainy weather during what is supposed to be Central Florida’s dry season was followed by “post-bloom drop,” when the very young fruit in the formative stage falls from the branches.

Marshall noted that navel orange trees are especially susceptible to post-bloom drop and effects of the polar vortex that blanketed the Sunshine State and forced nighttime temperatures down into the 20s.

“We had winds,” he added, referring to the air stirrings of northwest winds that kept away damaging frost.

In spite of the lack of navel oranges, Marshall said he has other types of citrus available, including Hamlin T oranges, tangerines and grapefruit.

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