ORLANDO, Fla., July 23 (UPI) -- "Wacky" extreme winter weather in Florida could threaten the state's citrus industry with frequent freezes and shorter growing seasons, researchers say.
University of Central Florida researchers say bigger temperature swings between winter and spring followed by hotter summers could threaten oranges and other crops, ScienceDaily.com reported Thursday.
"The weather in Florida has been getting wacky," UCF biology professor Betsy Von Holle said. "And that's definitely having an impact beyond simple temperature changes. If the trend continues, it may affect everything from when we start seeing flowers and birds migrating to what foods we can grow."
Subtropical crops such as oranges that require mild winters and springs could get squeezed out of Florida, Von Holle said.
The UCF team studied more than 50 years of seasonal and regional changes in climate and the flowering times of 70 native and non-native plant species throughout Florida.
The study highlights the need for more research on seasonal and regional climate changes in a warming world, the researchers said.