Citrus, namely oranges have been farmed commercially in Florida groves since the early 1800s. The first citrus was brought to the Western Hemisphere in 1493 by Christopher Columbus. In the mid-1500s one of the early Spanish explorers, most likely Ponce de Leon, planted the first orange trees around the current location of St. Augustine, Florida. Florida's unique sandy soil and subtropical climate proved to be ideal for growing the seeds that the early settlers planted and have flourished ever since. Today it is a $9 billion industry, employing nearly 76,000 Floridians. In 1835 the citrus industry was just getting on it’s feet, but it almost ended before it got going. On February 8, 1835 a bitter cold arctic blast reached into the southern part of the United States and produced low temperatures unknown in that region. The mercury reached below zero as far south as Savannah Georgia and on the morning of February 8 the temperature read 8 degrees in Jacksonville killing most of the orange trees and setting back the citrus industry more than 10 years. The first groves were originally planted in northern Florida far from where they currently exist. As time went on and more killing freezes occurred the groves were moved further and further south and are now hundreds of miles south of their original loculation.
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