Arctic blast could revive fresh tomato shortage

Dec. 19, 2004

The Palm Beach Post: After a hurricane-induced lag in the tomato crop slimmed supplies, restaurant operators in Florida have paid up to $50 for a 25-pound case of tomatoes. And though prices were down to a more palatable $15 a box in mid-December, thanks to the return of the Florida tomato crop, the weather is threatening again. This time it's a blast of cold air from the North.

The National Weather Service said near-freezing temperatures are possible by Dec. 21 in portions of interior South Florida, especially around Lake Okeechobee and north of Alligator Alley.

Florida's tomato crop is at about 75 percent to 80 percent of normal and has been steady for the past three weeks, said Reggie Brown, manager of the Maitland-based Florida Tomato Committee.

"If you can fix the weather next week, we will stay that way," Brown said. "It will be a serious problem here if we freeze."

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