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_Keith

Looking Back at the Great US Freezes

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palmsOrl

Wow this is very interesting. I have often searched for reliable historical data like this. It is hard to believe that fruit bearing mangoes could have been killed in Key West since it would likely take temps. into the 20s to do that (doubt it has gotten into the 20s there though maybe the mid-upper 30s). I also figured Orlando had gotten colder at some point than the 19 degrees usually cited as the official all time record low for the city (1985). Incredible that the Manatee River partially froze in 1886, although I have read of this happening in Pensacola Bay.

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bubba

The St. Johns iced in the 1899 Freeze.So did the Mississippi near New Orleans in the same freeze.

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SubTropicRay

OK a brief synopsis:

South Florida gets hurricanes

Central Florida has freezes

California has earthquakes

Hawaii has volcanoes (some islands)

Mars is really, really cold

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bubba

Long jump best results on the moon!

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spockvr6
OK a brief synopsis:

South Florida gets hurricanes

Central Florida has freezes

California has earthquakes

Hawaii has volcanoes (some islands)

Mars is really, really cold

And Judge Smails never slices :mrlooney:

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SubTropicRay

Pine Island, Sanibel and Captiva Islands, and Marco Island are the only west coast locations that see comparable winter temps to SE Florida. All of these locations are warmer on cold nights than Naples or Ft. Myers. Interestingly, on the really cold nights, the temperature differential from coastal central Florida to southeast Florida is typically less than 10 degrees. Unfortunately for central Florida, this is the difference between above and below freezing.

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spockvr6
Pine Island, Sanibel and Captiva Islands, and Marco Island are the only west coast locations that see comparable winter temps to SE Florida. All of these locations are warmer on cold nights than Naples or Ft. Myers.

We are going "kamping" on Pine Island this weekend! I say "kamping" as its at a KOA in a small "kabin"....so not real camping for you hardcore folks!

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Eric in Orlando

The south tip of Merritt Island is the warmest part of east central FL. There are old Roylas and at leat 1 coconut palm that survived the '89 freeze. There are also mango groves there that have been there since the 1940s or 50's.

I remember the 3 freezes in the 80s in Orlando well. '83 was bad as it was the first one and really knocked things back but '89 finished it off. On Christmas Eve in '89 it rained early in the day then the temperature rapidly dropped and it was below freezing by late afternoon. I remember my car (an '84 Honda CRX) was iced over as it hadn't dried off from the rain. I had to pry the door open to get in and the car was covered in a sheet. I worked at a garden center and the ponds we had on display had a layer of ice before dark. That evening there was snow flurries as the air was still moist.

Our family went to Sanibel Island and Marco Island in summer 1990. I remember the royals in Ft. Myers lining McGregor Blvd. were burnt badly and got greener as you came into town closer to the coast.

These have been posted before but here is a reminder of what things looked like in Jan. 1990, this was at Leu Gardens, photos were digital copies made from slides in the archives;

freeze1.jpg

freeze2.jpg

freeze3.jpg

  • Upvote 1

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AggiePalms
Keith, I am not sure I am making my point cogently. The climate of the Southeast Coast of Florida and Central Florida are not in the same ballpark. Central Florida has suffered low temperatures in the upper teens.Citrus culture in Florida in the 1890's was centered in North Florida.(Jacksonville to Ocala)Leaving Florida to head to Jamaica for Citrus production, as suggested by Wikepedia, would have been an over-reaction.

The climate of Southwest Florida(Naples) is also much colder in terms of all-time minimum temperatures.I believe Naples has reported all time lows around 22 to 24 F.Southeastern Coastal Florida(from Palm Beach South to the Key's)has seen all-time minimums of shorter duration and much warmer than Naples.

What is the reason for the warmer climate experienced in Southeastern Coastal Florida? More than likely it is the proximity to the Gulfstream.It is that huge Ocean river of extremely warm water that reaches it's closest point to the coast of Florida at Palm Beach.(2 miles)It also is responsible for Palms growing in Ireland.

Although long time temperature histories may not be available in Southeastern Coastal Florida because of it's relatively recent development,it does not logically follow that this is why we have no records of Artic Freezes dismembering Southeastern Coastal Florida.I would suggest that barring a new Ice Age,it is simply not in the cards.Accordingly,while low temperatures are a possibility,as long as the Gulfstream flows,the liklihood is low and certainly not inevitable.

I accept your argument as logical, but I am not arguing. I am simply researching and putting out the historically published literature that is relevant for the entire Gulf Coast.

I leave each individual to determine what it means to them.

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AggiePalms

remember that hideous Christmas 1983 freeze very well...I owned my first few palms and cycads while in grad school at Texas A&M, and everything froze solid...lost my car to the ice, my townhouse to broken pipes, my prelim exams to flooded books, and even the palms. I guess that wasn't the worst part, though. After the car succombed to the ice, I had to walk back 8-10 miles in a 15 degree ice storm. The police wouldn't stop to help. Maybe to get their help I just should have yelled "Palm!" instead of "Help!".

Curious to know which palms you lost in that freeze in College Station TX. All the "hardy" palms survived in this area of TX.

In response: I didn't have anything exotic...I was a poor grad student growing things in pots, so I lost a Butia, Washingtonia, and the cycad Cycas revoluta, among others. But the important thing is they were in pots that hadn't been watered in the week I was gone for Christmas break. I think the dryness contributed to their demise.

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SubTropicRay

David,

Was January of 1985 bad for you too? That one is forgotten because it's sandwiched between 1983 and 1989.

Ray

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palmsOrl

In 1985, Orlando got down to 19, whereas the low in 1989 was 22 I think. The 1989 freeze (and maybe 1983) is usually considered worse, did it last longer? Was the 85 freeze of really short duration? I have often wondered this as it seems the 85 freeze would've been more damaging, at least in the Orlando area.

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SubTropicRay

The 1985 freeze was quick and lethal. High pressure came in and shifted out quickly but was a killer for one night.

Check January 1981 for more scary lows. The entire decade was riddled with bad freezes.

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ruskinPalms

Very interesting to read. Most of us who have been in this game of pushing zones for awhile have always had the inevitibility of a severe freeze in the back of our minds. Why I continue to push the zones is because there is so much fun to be had between the freezes - even if it is only a few years between freezes. Most winters are so mild and accomodating here that tropicals don't stop growing in winter. They grow fast and look great within a year or two. I have said this before, if I base my garden on what could survive these historical freezes, it would be a pretty lame garden at best. These historical freezes kill even the 'safe' palms like Syagrus, Washingtonia and Phoenix. So, even after this year decimates my garden and leaves me with only Sabal and Serenoa volunteers, I will still be replanting with super cheap Adonidias, Coconuts, D. lutescens etc. brought up from south florida the following spring. Besides, you never know what will survive...

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Eric in Orlando

The 1/85 freeze didn't seem as bad as everything had been knocked back the year before in 12/83. Nothing had grown back much in a year. 12/89 had a much longer duration and everything had started to recover or had been replanted. It was the knockout blow for many plants aroud here that had survived 83 and 85

In '83, I was in the 10th grade. My girlfriend lived a few blocks away and they had a huge jacaranda tree in the front as did several neighbors. All these trees froze about half way down. But the first few weeks after the freeze they gave off a rank smell.

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Eric in Orlando

You are exactly right. Normally hardy things like queens, pygmy dates, reclinatas, and paurotis will killed or froze to the ground. Whats the difference in a dead queen or coconut? a dead pygmy date or adonidia? But then you have what happened at Leu Gardens, Arenga pinnata and Attalea rostrata survived these 3 freezes and dozens of queen palms growing in the same area were wiped out.

Very interesting to read. Most of us who have been in this game of pushing zones for awhile have always had the inevitibility of a severe freeze in the back of our minds. Why I continue to push the zones is because there is so much fun to be had between the freezes - even if it is only a few years between freezes. Most winters are so mild and accomodating here that tropicals don't stop growing in winter. They grow fast and look great within a year or two. I have said this before, if I base my garden on what could survive these historical freezes, it would be a pretty lame garden at best. These historical freezes kill even the 'safe' palms like Syagrus, Washingtonia and Phoenix. So, even after this year decimates my garden and leaves me with only Sabal and Serenoa volunteers, I will still be replanting with super cheap Adonidias, Coconuts, D. lutescens etc. brought up from south florida the following spring. Besides, you never know what will survive...

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Walter John

So what do you gleam from this cold history ? Do you stop with palms already and grow something else ?

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SubTropicRay

The Holly Society sound appealing right about now. 10 nights below 50F this November spells trouble in the coming months.

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mnorell

A little more on the Great 1835 Freeze from the "U.S. Weather Bureau Bulletin P, Cold Waves and Frosts in the United States," Published in 1906:

"1835--A destructive periof of cold occurred in the Middle East and Northeastern States January 4, and in the central valleys and Southern States February 8. In the Southern States tropical fruits were cut off which had been uninjured for more than half a century. The following temperatures observed during these periods, taken mainly from Niles's Register for April 11, 1835, and other sources of the same period, represent extremes of temperature reached during this period:

On the St. Johns River, five miles above Jacksonville, Fla., evergreen oaks shed their leaves from this frost, and began to show new leaves again on the 20th of March, following. The orange trees were split to the roots, and of course, were killed, root and all.

...In February nearly all the surface of the United States as then observed, or all that east of the Great Plains, was below zero on the 8th--Natchez at the southwest and Savannah on the Atlantic coast being the limits."

Ouch!

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_Keith
So what do you gleam from this cold history ? Do you stop with palms already and grow something else ?

Hey Wal,

First, it is just fascinating reading.

I don't think it has stopped me or will stop me from planting anything tender, but it has caused me to plant some non tender things as well, and to balance my plantings.

I hope another big freeze never comes, but the odds are that it will at least one more time in my lifetime. When it does, I want the bones of my garden to still be alive, so I can fill in with tender stuff again afterwards, and I will do that. Plant more tender stuff that is.

I have to accept that I live in an odd climate. My zone is 9a most of the time, but for a decade or more we can be a Zone 9b, like it is now. I can plant all kinds of things. But next year, or any year we could get a Zone 7a freeze and we do get just that on the aveage, every 20 years or so. Or it change to Zone 8a for a nearly a decade like it did in the 80s.

So, to me it is about balance, never getting complacent, or having too much to lose when the inevitable happens.

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syersj
Very interesting to read. Most of us who have been in this game of pushing zones for awhile have always had the inevitibility of a severe freeze in the back of our minds. Why I continue to push the zones is because there is so much fun to be had between the freezes - even if it is only a few years between freezes. Most winters are so mild and accomodating here that tropicals don't stop growing in winter. They grow fast and look great within a year or two. I have said this before, if I base my garden on what could survive these historical freezes, it would be a pretty lame garden at best. These historical freezes kill even the 'safe' palms like Syagrus, Washingtonia and Phoenix. So, even after this year decimates my garden and leaves me with only Sabal and Serenoa volunteers, I will still be replanting with super cheap Adonidias, Coconuts, D. lutescens etc. brought up from south florida the following spring. Besides, you never know what will survive...

Your worst freeze of around 18-20F might kill a Syagrus, maybe not. But it definitely would not kill a Washingtonia or Phoenix. We have mature pre 80s Washies and Phoenix here and our all time lows are in the single digits F.

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BobbyinNY
Lesson # 1 for people is to plant palms suited for your zone and area. Otherwise they WILL be killed. Look around and see what is mature and plant that. Realize that you are not the first person to try to push a zone and think you will get away with it. Sorry to say, someone else has already tried and failed, guaranteed. If you don't see it growing, THERE IS A REASON.

wow... than I must be a total wacko..lol

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_Keith
Lesson # 1 for people is to plant palms suited for your zone and area. Otherwise they WILL be killed. Look around and see what is mature and plant that. Realize that you are not the first person to try to push a zone and think you will get away with it. Sorry to say, someone else has already tried and failed, guaranteed. If you don't see it growing, THERE IS A REASON.

wow... than I must be a total wacko..lol

Aren't we all?

or should I say?

Not that there is anything wrong with that.

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edbrown_III
In 1985, Orlando got down to 19, whereas the low in 1989 was 22 I think. The 1989 freeze (and maybe 1983) is usually considered worse, did it last longer? Was the 85 freeze of really short duration? I have often wondered this as it seems the 85 freeze would've been more damaging, at least in the Orlando area.

Some of this was situational-- 1983 came after a long Indian summer here (in Jax) no hardening off. Jax was pretty tropical looking large Paurotis down town at Channel 4 builiding 50' tall and queens everywhere. There were large Causerina trees as windbreaks in Mandarin as well as large 70' tall Washingtonias at Baseball park. Weather report predicted 18F but it came in at 11F---It was the suddeness of it.

January 85 -- they predicted it ahead a bit-- it was colder and higher gale force winds. as best I remember it lasted 3 days before we got out of the hard numbers--- there wasnt that much tropical vegetation to kill as it had all frooze from the past year. This killed several Washingtonas in the yard.. ONe big one had bud damage and didnt come back until July. I covered the citrus and banked so they lived.

1986 we had some freezes 17F (the day the Challenger exploded --- I used concrete mesh to make mini greenhouses and saved the 8' tall citrus and actually had blooms and a cropt he following season.

89 lasted longer but wasnt as severe in depth. We had a blowing rain snow here whcih coated the ground. It got down to 16F ---- I had planted about 7 large Livistonas a few years back and they were up to about 6 feet overall. They all survived as well as a 3 gallon L. saribus that I had put out in the summer. I had Arenga engleri survive and had a C. mitis up againstthe house that I covered and survived. A P. reclinata I had out in the yard was killed to ground. Saved the citrus but lost a L. australis. One queen survived the freeze .

It was a good 4 or 5 years before I had the stones to start planting out again. We hada deep freeze in 99' only down to 21F but it was 2 weeks straight many nights in low 20s -- I lost a Parajubea and many Rhopallostylis as well as a Ceroxylon.

Now I have triangles large L. drudei , L. muelleri, Acrocomias large paurotis that wouldnt have lasted a winter in the 80s .

Best regards

Ed

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Walt

I wasn't living in Florida during the December 1989 freeze (moved here 11 years ago today) but I've talked to many locals that were living here at the time.

Lake Placid, Florida, where I live, is on the approximate latitude between Ft. Pierce and Port St. Lucie, and almost in the center line of the state. As such, there are no ocean/Gulf influences per se. However, there are more than 75 lakes that modify temperatures in proximity of them. The lake water temperatures average in the upper 60s, even in January.

I live about one mile from lake Clay, a relatively small lake (367 acres). On the S.E. end of lake Clay there is a microclimate area with large Ficus benghalensis (and other ficus species), royal palms, and other zone 10 plants. A longtime local family live in this microclimate area (on 13 acres) and I spoke with them back on New Year's Day, 2004. They let me walk around the property to see what was there, as I was curious. The owner told me his father planted all the banyan trees, royal palms, etc., back in the 1950s.

I asked the owner about the 1989 freeze. He told me there was some defoliation but everything survived.

I estimate the advective 1989 freeze wind came across the lake, but was only slightly tempered. I noticed that some (not all) royal palms right on the lake had some trunk damage. Royals back off the lake and sheltered by other trees had not damage, other than some trunk constrictions here and there, probably from many freezes over the years since the 1950s.

The link below is a slideshow of some of the palms in the microclimate area. The owner built a new home (last of photos) within the microclimate next to some large banyan trees. Today it looks very nice there, but I have no recent photos, which I need to do to update my Webshots album.

http://outdoors.webshots.com/slideshow/108...XOV0IMr9LKpg03r

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_Keith

More historical record from 1983.

Source: Hardy Palm and Subtropical Board

Posted by Tom, St. Marys, GA on 12/6/2008, 12:31 am, in reply to "How hardy is the Mule Palm?"

69.131.167.242 Joe, below is an excerpt from an article by Dr. Kyle Brown of Glen St. Mary, FL, written in 1989-90 for the Palm Quarterly. Dr. Brown is one of the experts on palms in north Florida, and he has been growing Butiagrus palms for some 35 years or more in Baker County, which is in extreme north Florida about 30 miles west of Jacksonville. His experience, like Merrill's, is invaluable.

post-1207-1228622199_thumb.jpg

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bubba

That Dr. Kyle Brown excerpt is some incredible work to find.Thank you

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PalmGuyWC

No place in the USA escaped the 89/90 freeze. I was away on a 4 day trip, and the freeze started two days before I got home around midnight on the 4th day. When I stepped out of the car the cold air froze the moisture in my trousers. It felt like Fairbanks, the only other place where my trousers had frozen stiff. I had planted a row of snapdraggons along my driveway, and the ground was frozen solid and the plants were twisted and black. It was to late and cold to move any palms inside as the soil had already frozen solid in the pots. The next morning it was 14F and water pipes had burst and there were icicles hanging as big as my leg. I experienced the teens and low 20's for about 10 days and the ground was frozen about 6" deep. I remember diging with a shovel two days after the freeze was over and there were still ice crystals 6" down. My garden looked like the pictures that Eric has posted, but amazingly I lost only one palm growing in the ground, a Caryota which I knew would bite the dust sometime. Some Queens died a few years after the freeze.

I was flying to Orlando, Corpus Cristi, San Antonio, Las Vegas and Phoenix the following spring and summer. There was damage everywhere. I remember Rhapis growing along the River Walk in San Antonio were killed to the ground and also about half the canes of Rhapis were killed in Orlando, but that only stimulated them to grow new canes and they looked fine in about 3 years. Acres of citrus near Orlando were killed with all the trunks and limbs split open.

Lynn McKamey of Rhapis fame, drove me around Corpus Cristi to show the damage. She said it got down to 13F, so cold that fish were killed in Corpus Cristi Bay, and the native Salt bushes growing around the Bay were killed back. Most of the tall Washingtonia robustas along the Bay were killed, while the W. filiferas were burned, but not killed. The Sabals were hardly touched, and I don't remember the fate of the numerous Pheonix, but they were brown from the freeze.

Las Vegas had just completed their new airline terminal and planted numerous Phoenix dactiliferas around the terminal building. They were all about 50% damaged, but all recovered. The palms growing in Phoenix were brown from the freeze, but I think all recovered as they were mostly hardy palms.

It took my own palm garden 2 or 3 years to recover and I had minimal permanent damage, mostly the trunks of Queens, but it took 5 years until the bark started to sluff off. I have covered the trunk damage with vines. I hate to be reminded we may have another freeze like that.

Dick

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syersj
I was flying to Orlando, Corpus Cristi, San Antonio, Las Vegas and Phoenix the following spring and summer. There was damage everywhere. I remember Rhapis growing along the River Walk in San Antonio were killed to the ground and also about half the canes of Rhapis were killed in Orlando, but that only stimulated them to grow new canes and they looked fine in about 3 years. Acres of citrus near Orlando were killed with all the trunks and limbs split open.

Lynn McKamey of Rhapis fame, drove me around Corpus Cristi to show the damage. She said it got down to 13F, so cold that fish were killed in Corpus Cristi Bay, and the native Salt bushes growing around the Bay were killed back. Most of the tall Washingtonia robustas along the Bay were killed, while the W. filiferas were burned, but not killed. The Sabals were hardly touched, and I don't remember the fate of the numerous Pheonix, but they were brown from the freeze.

Hmm...this is very interesting to me. I like hearing information about the big freezes, because it prepares you for what could happen. Interesting to hear you say most of the tall Robusta were killed in Corpus. I don't know if you've visited Corpus since then, but there are many pre-freeze tall Robusta around. I thought most of them survived in Corpus, although most Robusta died in San Antonio. I thought the cutoff was somewhere between the two...there are some tall survivors in San Antonio as well. Although some would say all the tall survivor Robustas are actually Filibusta.

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richtrav

Jim

Most of the robustas were killed in 1983 in San Antonio and Corpus. They had the best survival in Laredo. In the Lower Rio Grande Valley mostly the old trees were killed in '83, ones that were planted in the 20s and 30s and had been through the '51 and '62 freezes. I think they can only take so many freezes in a humid climate. Same thing happened to the old robustas in Daytona Beach in 1989; a lot of the old ones I saw there in summer 1990 were dead or dying. They had made it through the other freezes but '89 was just one freeze too many. It was also a wet freeze over there, which certainly doesn't help them. Most of the old trees you now see in Corpus are hybrids or a different form of robusta.

Richard Travis

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DoomsDave

Oh, gawd!

The great Freeze of 1977!

Oh, I remember when . . . .

Disco ruled! Bell-bottoms were still cool! Country music was just starting to go mainstream. Bianca Jagger wasn't just a breath freshener . . . . .

I'd just graduated early from High School. (That High part was too [expletive] true, even the teachers!)

And, it got cold, Holy Diety of Choice, and it snowed. And snowed. In Ohio.

I wanted to go to Florida, and phoned a buddy there in Jax, who said, "it's snowin' HERE, too, dude!" [Fecal expletive]

So, years later, I went to California instead.

1990 . . .

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Matthew92

What I've been curious about lately is how citrus groves in places like Lake County, FL were determined such a loss with temps that were in the upper teens. Did the trees actually die? I mean, lately I've seen a lot of comments on here about how most citrus will defoliate at these temperatures but come back fine and even bear fruit that year (as I've seen with mine). This winter, I recorded lows of 22, 18, and 23 deg (thermometer is actually right next to my citrus trees), and they are going to be just fine with some having only having minor defoliation at the top (and most of them aren't even full sized trees yet).

Is it partially because the varieties they were using in the greater Orlando area were more cold tender? I do know that the orange variety "pineapple" widely used back then is more cold tender than others.

Any thoughts?

Edited by Opal92

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Xerarch
18 minutes ago, Opal92 said:

What I've been curious about lately is how citrus groves in places like Lake County, FL were determined such a loss with temps that were in the upper teens. Did the trees actually die? I mean, lately I've seen a lot of comments on here about how most citrus will defoliate at these temperatures but come back fine and even bear fruit that year (as I've seen with mine). This winter, I recorded lows of 22, 18, and 23 deg (thermometer is actually right next to my citrus trees), and they are going to be just fine with some having only having minor defoliation at the top (and most of them aren't even full sized trees yet).

Is it partially because the varieties they were using in the greater Orlando area were more cold tender? I do know that the orange variety "pineapple" widely used back then is more cold tender than others.

Any thoughts?

There are several factors at play here, and yes, in those big freezes in FL, citrus were killed outright by the same absolute lows that didn’t kill citrus outright in our recent events. First, the rootstalk, way back when, rough lemon was used as the rootstalk, it produced huge yields of so-so flavored fruit and it did not offer much cold tolerance, and yes, rootstalk does have an effect on the cold tolerance of the scion. After the freeze of 1835 (or maybe 1899? can’t be sure on the fly right now) it was noticed that many of the trees on Merritt island survived (also the fruit tasted better) this wasn’t just because of a good location. They were using sour orange as the rootstalk. This offered more cold tolerance, better flavor, but less production. Today in Florida from what I understand the best all around rootstalk is swingle citrumelo. 

The other big factor which I will address is the conditions leading up to a freeze. A citrus tree that has been exposed to cold over a period of time will be able to harden off. A bad scenario would be very warm winter temps and the tree is in full on growth mode when a sudden freeze pushes temps down to 20 degrees and the trunk is full of flowing sap, they are the conditions that cause the trunk to burst. The worst case, and there are historical examples of this, is when you get a hard freeze in, say December, it freezes the leaves, some branch dieback etc. but doesn’t kill the tree, then temps really get warm, the tree goes into full recovery mode and bursts out with new growth in January and February. Then in February you get one of these historical and sudden hard freezes that hit an already weakened but full growth mode tree. These freezes wipe out whole regions even if the temp itself is something that wouldn’t kill a citrus that had hardened off and wasn’t already weak. 

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Matthew92
23 minutes ago, Xerarch said:

There are several factors at play here, and yes, in those big freezes in FL, citrus were killed outright by the same absolute lows that didn’t kill citrus outright in our recent events. First, the rootstalk, way back when, rough lemon was used as the rootstalk, it produced huge yields of so-so flavored fruit and it did not offer much cold tolerance, and yes, rootstalk does have an effect on the cold tolerance of the scion. After the freeze of 1835 (or maybe 1899? can’t be sure on the fly right now) it was noticed that many of the trees on Merritt island survived (also the fruit tasted better) this wasn’t just because of a good location. They were using sour orange as the rootstalk. This offered more cold tolerance, better flavor, but less production. Today in Florida from what I understand the best all around rootstalk is swingle citrumelo. 

The other big factor which I will address is the conditions leading up to a freeze. A citrus tree that has been exposed to cold over a period of time will be able to harden off. A bad scenario would be very warm winter temps and the tree is in full on growth mode when a sudden freeze pushes temps down to 20 degrees and the trunk is full of flowing sap, they are the conditions that cause the trunk to burst. The worst case, and there are historical examples of this, is when you get a hard freeze in, say December, it freezes the leaves, some branch dieback etc. but doesn’t kill the tree, then temps really get warm, the tree goes into full recovery mode and bursts out with new growth in January and February. Then in February you get one of these historical and sudden hard freezes that hit an already weakened but full growth mode tree. These freezes wipe out whole regions even if the temp itself is something that wouldn’t kill a citrus that had hardened off and wasn’t already weak. 

Yeah, that's probably a lot what contributed to such bad damaged. As I mentioned on the thread about growing citrus in marginal zones, damage was much worse on my citrus last year with one maximum low of 22 versus 22, 18 and 23 this year. There was warmer temps leading up to the freeze last year which shocked the trees more.

However, for a year like 1989 when most citrus growers gave up, it was a December freeze- and to my knowledge there wasn't a later freeze with a warm period right before to incur the damage you talk about. Then again, I'm sure temps were warm right before the Dec freeze or most of those 80's freezes- which shocked the trees more than they would in a situation like mine this winter where we had progressively harder freezes leading up to the 18 degrees at my house. Maybe sort of a curse there in Central FL because you get those very warm temps in between.

I'd be interested to see if there are many surviving citrus trees in that area from that cold decade.

Edited by Opal92

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TexasColdHardyPalms

I had the same low temp this year as I did last year at the house but had way more damage to Butia and Med fans because we were in the 70's and 80's all of December and then dropped like a rock to 13F.  This also killed and damaged a lot of ornamental shrubs that are zone 6 rated and never even flinched in 2011 or this year.  This year we had a lot of days in the 20's and higher teens which allowed everything to harden off really limiting the damage compared to last year.  

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kinzyjr

An interesting comparison using NOAA data vs. the information that was readily available for the 1835 event:

image.thumb.png.18ad3c64c3c403b3857edc0a3b46fc61.png 

These are the NOAA Stations where the ultimate lows for the other freezes were taken from:

image.png.a4528357d303a78ffa1a24f55f2331cf.png

Just a few observations I had looking at the data:

  • Jacksonville recorded a lower temperature in 1985 than in 1835, but the duration may have been longer and/or the high for the day may have been lower.
  • St. Augustine tied the low mark in 1985.
  • The Picolata observation was supposed to be near this area on the banks of the St. Johns.  Federal Point is reasonably close to where this measure would have been taken.  1835 was significantly colder than other freezes here.
  • Fort King is on the east side of Ocala.  The low in 1981 mirrors the low in 1835, while 1899 and 1985 were reasonably close.
  • The low in Charleston, SC of 1F is unrivaled by anything recorded at the Downtown Charleston weather station in any of the other freeze events.

Other sources:

https://www.staugustine.com/article/20140112/NEWS/301129933
http://www.floridahistorynetwork.com/blog---floridas-worst-freezes.html
https://www.weather.gov/media/tbw/paig/PresAmFreeze1835.pdf
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RedRabbit
5 hours ago, kinzyjr said:

An interesting comparison using NOAA data vs. the information that was readily available for the 1835 event:

image.thumb.png.18ad3c64c3c403b3857edc0a3b46fc61.png 

These are the NOAA Stations where the ultimate lows for the other freezes were taken from:

image.png.a4528357d303a78ffa1a24f55f2331cf.png

Just a few observations I had looking at the data:

  • Jacksonville recorded a lower temperature in 1985 than in 1835, but the duration may have been longer and/or the high for the day may have been lower.
  • St. Augustine tied the low mark in 1985.
  • The Picolata observation was supposed to be near this area on the banks of the St. Johns.  Federal Point is reasonably close to where this measure would have been taken.  1835 was significantly colder than other freezes here.
  • Fort King is on the east side of Ocala.  The low in 1981 mirrors the low in 1835, while 1899 and 1985 were reasonably close.
  • The low in Charleston, SC of 1F is unrivaled by anything recorded at the Downtown Charleston weather station in any of the other freeze events.

Other sources:

https://www.staugustine.com/article/20140112/NEWS/301129933
http://www.floridahistorynetwork.com/blog---floridas-worst-freezes.html
https://www.weather.gov/media/tbw/paig/PresAmFreeze1835.pdf

I didn't realize it was that cold in 1985... I wonder why the 1989 freeze gets referenced much more often when it was considerably milder. 

How did your area do in 1985? 

Edited by RedRabbit

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kinzyjr
5 hours ago, RedRabbit said:

I didn't realize it was that cold in 1985... I wonder why the 1989 freeze gets referenced much more often when it was considerably milder. 

How did your area do in 1985? 

I think that the various regions in the state differ as to which freeze was the worst in their particular area in regard to temperature and damage to sensitive plants.  The numbers from KLAL tend to be a little lower than what we get in town even during advective events, but during one of these record freezes it probably wouldn't matter that much in terms of what manages to survive.  A few recent examples include:

  • 23F in Jan. 2010 vs. recordings of 26-27 in town
  • 25F in Jan. 2018 vs. multiple recordings of 27-28F in town

One factor that the records in these tables don't reflect is the amount of time at or below certain temperatures.

We set a record low of 20F during the 1985 freeze.  It tied the record low previously set in December 1962.  One confusing part of the records shown for me is that the highs are 50 or above for the two coldest days.  I have my doubts that the actual high temperature at KLAL on the 21st was 26 degrees higher than at KMCO.

image.png.389bf8c25f09f8b020ca014bcad61669.png

image.png.b188dcefa615edc20d9e896be0634b94.png

For comparison purposes, here are the numbers around the 1989 Christmas Freeze here:

image.png.549ed54ba56ea8be833a0394effb95e5.png

 

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RedRabbit

20f really isn't bad compared to Jax at 7f!  

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