Image: Ice hangs from papaya tree
Joe Skipper  /  Reuters
Ice hangs from a papaya tree after homeowner Bob Parker of Palm Beach County, Fla., turned on the sprinklers in hopes of saving the fruit by insulating it with ice on Monday. staff and news service reports
updated 1/12/2010 10:27:18 AM ET 2010-01-12T15:27:18

Warmer weather is coming to the eastern U.S., but people there will first have to put up with another day of frigid temperatures.

The prolonged cold snap has been tough on Florida crops, with one farmer estimating his losses at $750,000. He says they survived a couple of the nights, but that this past weekend sort of finished them off as far as the sweet corn and green beans go.

As for oranges, the cold tends to dehydrate them, reducing their quality. A citrus grower in Avon Park, Florida, says he hopes there's no spike in grocery prices.

Another night of freezing temperatures raked citrus groves in some central areas, growers said Tuesday morning.

"I talked to several growers who had in some of their locations their coldest temperatures of this 10- or 11-day event. We saw a lot of frost," said Ray Royce, executive director of the Highlands County Citrus Growers Association in central Florida.

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"We had some problems come again out of last night. We had some areas where guys cut quite a bit of ice in fruit," said Royce, whose group represents growers in the second largest citrus-producing county in Florida.

But farther south in the state, producers grouped in the Gulf Citrus Growers Association in southwest Florida appeared to have come through better.

"My speculation is that people fared better than the night before," said Roy Hamel, spokesman for the Gulf Citrus Growers group.

The National Weather Service says once the warmer weather arrives on Wednesday, temperatures should climb into the 40s. And the higher temperatures are expected to stick around through the weekend.

Cold temperatures aren't entirely unheard of in Florida, but it's unusual for them to linger this long. Monday was the 10th consecutive day of lows under 50 degrees in South Florida, just shy of a record of 13 days set in 1940.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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