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Cold brings relief to Suncoast citrus farmer

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Posted: Friday, January 3, 2014 5:31 pm

BRADENTON - People from up north might get a chuckle out of seeing people on the Suncoast talk about a day where it got to near 60 degrees as cold. But it keeps some of our beaches empty, and makes some of our farmers happy.

The wind at lido key blows cold enough to keep people off the beach – most of them.  Wayne Wilson hails from Pembroke, Ontario, CANADA, about 100 miles west of Ottawa, and it doesn't feel too cold to him.

“The temperature of the water is 65 today. That is about the same temperature as the Ottawa River in June. And we go swimming in it,” says Wilson. “Yes, it is like summer.”

For much of winter so far it has felt like summer to the citrus trees at Mixon Fruit Farms in Bradenton.

“The trees get kind of mixed up. They don't know what to do. They keep growing,” Mixon says.

Dean Mixon says confused trees cause complications when it's time to harvest. You want all the fruit ready at the same time. Cold, not too cold to damage the trees, makes them go dormant, and helps ward off pests and diseases. It also even helps the fruit look and taste better.

“In a normal time when you get cold in late November and December, it colors the fruit and it does sweeten it,” Mixon says.

It may be too late for that now, he says. He'd like to see the cold stay around a while. It takes more than a few days for trees to benefit. But every bit helps. People the cold blows off the beach come to the gift shop at the farms. Mixon says the shop does great business whenever the weather turns colder.

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