The History of Citrus in Florida

The History of Citrus in Florida


  • The History of Citrus in Florida

Published Date

  • 1938-1939 Series


[page 5]
Williams, writing in 1837, recounts the great freeze, "severe northwest wind blew for ten days.
During this period the mercury was seven degrees above zero. The St. Johns was frozen several
rods from the shore. All kinds of fruit were killed in the ground, and many of them never
started again, even from the roots."

Another freeze occurred in 1886, at which time the crop was injured and many young
trees killed. At this time many of the growers believed that these freezes were caused by the
cutting of timber in north Florida and Georgia. They contended that the forests constituted
windbreaks and that the cutting of these trees by the lumber industry and the plantation owners
brought the cold winds to the groves.

Then came the two freezes of 1894 and 1895 that killed a great many orange trees.
Since that date there have been recorded three serious freezes, 1899, 1917, 1935, at which
times a large number of young trees perished. A minimum temperature of two degrees below
zero at Tallahassee on February 13, 1899, is the Florida record for a century.

As a result of these freezes, in the northern part of the State, citrus growing has been
practically abandoned, with the exception of groves of satsumas. During the past thirty years
the citrus section of Florida has been moving southward, and citrus growing in central and
south Florida has developed rapidly. The groves of the tender choice oranges are for the most
part maintained below the "frost belt," which is drawn across the State at about Orlando by the
Frost Protection Bureau.

The advance of the citrus industry and the very evident commercial future of these
fruits brought many horticulturists to Florida: they came from Japan and China, where citrus
has maintained a foothold for centuries, from the Mediterranean countries, and from the West
Indies, and gave to the Florida