Chill in Florida Could Cost Plenty

TALLAHASSEE, Fla., Jan. 13 (UPI) — The chill that enveloped Florida in the past week could cost the state’s vegetable farmers $100 million, an agricultural expert said.

Gene McAvoy at the University of Florida said the state lost $100 million in vegetable production alone, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

The blow will also ripple through northern grocery stores. Before the freeze, wholesale tomatoes were priced at $14 for a 25 pounds box. After, the price jumped to $20, McAvoy said.

Peppers, he said, jumped from $8 a box to $18.

State officials and farmers are still assessing damage to citrus and other crops. Ted Campbell, executive director of the Florida Strawberry Growers Association, said the plants would likely produce a new set of berries as “a natural response when a plant comes close to death … It wants to reproduce itself.”

Tropical fish farmers reported dead fish throughout the state. In addition, escaped exotic pets, such as iguanas and tropical snakes, could have suffered a setback that help re-calibrate the state’s wild areas, returning them to a more natural order.

“A lot of these invasive exotics come from southern climates, and they won’t be able to withstand a cold spell for this long,” said Everglades National Park spokeswoman Linda Friar.

Copyright 2010 by United Press International

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