Cold weather in Texas

I live in the southwest Houston exurbs. I specify southwest because the northern Houston exurbs are always 2-3F colder than where I live. Seems winter weather is getting colder lately. Last big citrus killing freeze was in 1989. But we had 10F in 2021 and 16F in 2022. Both those temperatues aren’t compatilble with citrus growing. Satsuma can survive unprotected a few hours at 16F but not other citrus.

32 years between killing freezes is long enough to grow mature grapefruit and round orange trees. They all died in 2021 however. I hear loads of people abandoning citrus growing on our Texas facebook groups.

The lull in low temperatures of 32 years even tempted those in Austin to grow citrus trees. Austin is around 5 degrees colder than Houston and has limestone soil citrus doesn’t like. Few citrus survived 5F-10F in Austin in 2021. However Austin has citrus killing freezes every 10 years or so.

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I managed to get some trifoliate rootstocks but no more in-ground citrus for me (DFW). Lost a bunch of satsumas and kumquats in 2021. Seems like we need to put up the greenhouse earlier each year.

The winter storms coming out of Canada on your side of the Rockies are now able to travel farther south due to less viscous atmosphere.

Southern TX has also been hard hit with Citrus pests and diseases imported from FL. That plus the new winter lows are a double whammy for Citrus crops.

It is discouraging getting this Christmas freeze after the bad one in 2021. I planted a grapefruit tree at my parents house after the 1989 freeze and it grew to a large, heavy producing tree. We sold the house a few years ago and I imagine the 2021 freeze probably killed it.

Saying Austin has killing freezing for citrus every 10 years is a little misleading. Yes, I tend to say the same thing, but a more accurate saying is Austin has a 10% chance each year to have a killing citrus freeze. In my area (Beaumont, Tx) we have a 5% chance each year, but have had 2 out of 3 years with killing freezes. And last year, with lows in mid to low 20’s, I lost several first year planted satsuma trees. It has been a tough 3 years for citrus in Texas.

You’re due 30-40 good years. However, being Texas probably not.

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Not misleading to me. Lowest Austin temperatures in recent years|Min °F|Date|Min °C|
|7|February 16, 2021|-14|
|30|December 17, 2020 +|-1|
|26|March 05, 2019|-3|
|18|January 17, 2018|-8|
|19|January 07, 2017|-7|
|23|December 19, 2016|-5|
|23|January 08, 2015|-5|
|22|January 07, 2014 +|-6|
|27|December 07, 2013|-3|
|27|December 26, 2012|-3|
|17|February 02, 2011|-8|
|17|January 09, 2010|-8|

Lowest temperature recorded at Austin each year|Min °F|Date|Min °C|
| — | — | — |
|25|December 05, 2009|-4|
|25|January 20, 2008|-4|
|24|February 16, 2007|-4|
|28|February 19, 2006 +|-2|
|23|December 08, 2005|-5|
|24|December 23, 2004|-4|
|24|February 25, 2003|-4|
|24|March 04, 2002 +|-4|
|27|January 20, 2001|-3|
|26|December 12, 2000 +|-3|
|27|January 10, 1999 +|-3|
|25|December 26, 1998|-4|
|23|January 13, 1997|-5|
|19|February 04, 1996|-7|
|26|December 10, 1995|-3|
|25|January 19, 1994 +|-4|
|28|March 14, 1993|-2|
|26|November 28, 1992 +|-3|
|29|November 04, 1991|-2|
|15|December 23, 1990|-9|
|4|December 23, 1989|-16|
|23|February 12, 1988 +|-5|
|28|January 23, 1987|-2|
|27|February 12, 1986|-3|
|14|February 02, 1985|-10|
|17|January 19, 1984|-8|
|10|December 25, 1983|-12|
|11|January 11, 1982|-12|
|17|February 11, 1981|-8|
|19|March 02, 1980|-7|
|13|January 02, 1979|-11|
|19|December 10, 1978|-7|
|19|January 10, 1977|-7|
|18|January 08, 1976|-8|
|20|January 13, 1975|-7|
|22|January 01, 1974|-6|
|18|January 12, 1973|-8|
|18|January 05, 1972|-8|
|20|February 08, 1971|-7|
|17|January 07, 1970|-8|
|22|January 05, 1969|-6|
|22|January 07, 1968|-6|
|22|February 07, 1967|-6|
|14|January 30, 1966|-10|
|23|February 24, 1965|-5|
|17|January 14, 1964|-8|
|12|January 24, 1963|-11|
|13|January 12, 1962 +|-11|
|24|December 13, 1961|-4|
|22|February 25, 1960|-6|
|14|January 04, 1959|-10|
|22|December 14, 1958 +|-6|
|21|December 12, 1957|-6|
|24|February 05, 1956|-4|
|23|December 16, 1955|-5|
|23|January 22, 1954|-5|
|23|December 24, 1953 +|-5|
|24|December 15, 1952|-4|
|7|February 02, 1951|-14|
|16|December 07, 1950|-9|
|-2|January 31, 1949|-19|
|18|March 12, 1948 +|-8|
|15|January 04, 1947|-9|
|23|December 30, 1946|-5|
|25|December 20, 1945 +|-4|
|19|January 15, 1944|-7|
|13|January 19, 1943|-11|
|18|January 08, 1942|-8|
|26|January 19, 1941|-3|
|10|January 19, 1940|-12|
|24|December 29, 1939|-4|
|23|November 25, 1938|-5|
|25|December 09, 1937 +|-4|
|16|February 18, 1936|-9|
|18|January 22, 1935 +|-8|
|27|February 26, 1934|-3|
|11|February 08, 1933|-12|
|21|December 17, 1932|-6|
|28|January 14, 1931|-2|
|4|January 18, 1930|-16|
|16|December 23, 1929|-9|
|15|January 02, 1928|-9|
|22|December 31, 1927|-6|

Last citrus killing freezes in Beaumont, I was living there 1977-2013:
1983
1989
2021
2022

SE Texans have gotten bolder by planting round orange and grapefruit trees which can be damaged or killed by 20-24F. At my old house in Beaumont approximately 19 of 20 unprotected citrus were killed in 2021 by a few hours of 10F. Here near Sugar Land, 19 of 20 banked citrus trees survived the 2021 16F freeze. Lots of brown leaves on the non-satsuma trees now, a few on satsuma trees.

I consider anything below a few hours at 18F a citrus killing freeze. Never had a sizable satsuma tree even drop a leaf at 18F on trifoliate or flying dragon. However citrus not propagated on trifoliate anymore commercially in Texas. You get citrange which grow much faster but not as cold hardy. Quoting Houston as info for Beaumont not as readily available.

Lowest Houston temperatures in recent years|Min °F|Date|Min °C|
| — | — | — |
|15|February 16, 2021|-9|
|32|December 01, 2020|0|
|31|March 05, 2019|-1|
|19|January 17, 2018|-7|
|23|January 07, 2017|-5|
|32|December 19, 2016|0|
|30|January 08, 2015|-1|
|25|January 07, 2014|-4|
|31|January 17, 2013|-1|
|31|January 13, 2012|-1|
|23|February 02, 2011|-5|
|21|January 09, 2010|-6|

Lowest temperature recorded at Houston each year|Min °F|Date|Min °C|
| — | — | — |
|27|December 05, 2009|-3|
|32|December 10, 2008 +|0|
|29|February 16, 2007|-2|
|30|February 12, 2006|-1|
|34|December 08, 2005 +|1|
|28|December 26, 2004|-2|
|28|January 18, 2003|-2|
|25|February 27, 2002|-4|
|29|January 20, 2001 +|-2|
|30|December 30, 2000|-1|
|29|January 05, 1999|-2|
|29|December 26, 1998|-2|
|30|January 11, 1997|-1|
|23|January 08, 1996|-5|
|31|December 10, 1995|-1|
|27|February 02, 1994|-3|
|30|November 27, 1993|-1|
|29|November 27, 1992|-2|
|34|November 24, 1991 +|1|
|–|1990|–|
|9|December 23, 1989|-13|
|26|February 12, 1988|-3|
|29|January 23, 1987 +|-2|
|33|February 12, 1986|1|
|20|January 21, 1985|-7|
|23|January 19, 1984|-5|
|13|December 25, 1983|-11|
|15|January 11, 1982|-9|
|20|February 11, 1981|-7|
|24|March 02, 1980|-4|
|16|January 02, 1979|-9|
|24|December 10, 1978 +|-4|
|20|January 10, 1977|-7|
|21|January 08, 1976|-6|
|25|January 13, 1975|-4|
|31|November 30, 1974 +|-1|
|21|January 12, 1973|-6|
|25|January 06, 1972 +|-4|
|26|February 09, 1971 +|-3|
|19|January 07, 1970|-7|
|27|January 05, 1969|-3|
|28|January 14, 1968|-2|
|26|January 04, 1967|-3|
|20|January 30, 1966|-7|
|23|January 17, 1965|-5|
|21|January 14, 1964|-6|
|17|January 24, 1963|-8|
|17|January 12, 1962 +|-8|
|28|January 29, 1961|-2|
|26|February 25, 1960|-3|
|22|January 04, 1959|-6|
|26|February 13, 1958|-3|
|23|December 12, 1957|-5|
|31|November 27, 1956|-1|
|26|February 11, 1955|-3|
|25|January 22, 1954|-4|
|26|December 24, 1953|-3|
|25|December 15, 1952|-4|
|14|February 02, 1951|-10|
|19|December 07, 1950|-7|
|10|January 31, 1949|-12|
|22|January 18, 1948|-6|
|23|January 04, 1947|-5|
|27|December 30, 1946|-3|
|27|December 20, 1945|-3|
|25|January 09, 1944|-4|
|17|January 19, 1943|-8|
|28|January 10, 1942|-2|
|32|January 19, 1941|0|
|10|January 19, 1940|-12|
|29|December 29, 1939|-2|
|28|January 31, 1938|-2|
|27|December 09, 1937|-3|
|19|February 18, 1936|-7|
|17|January 22, 1935|-8|
|28|December 11, 1934|-2|
|13|February 08, 1933|-11|
|20|December 17, 1932|-7|
|33|March 28, 1931 +|1|
|5|January 18, 1930|-15|
|20|December 19, 1929|-7|
|16|January 02, 1928|-9|

|25|December 31, 1927 +|-4|
|30|December 16, 1926 +|-1|
|26|December 28, 1925 +|-3|
|22|December 20, 1924 +|-6|
|24|March 20, 1923|-4|
|29|March 03, 1922|-2|
|31|December 25, 1921|-1|

Need to plant those satsuma trees in the spring and protect the first year or two.

What I was meaning about saying we get citrus killing freezes every so many years is a little misleading is shown in this data, People often say we only get citrus killing freezes in Beaumont every 20 years. Yet, we have had one in 2021 and another in 2022. Every year we have about a 5% chance. Just because we had a freeze in 2021 does not mean we will not have another one a year of so later. We could even get another one in 2023. Not saying you were wrong, just many people think the freezes occurs on a 20 year pattern, when in fact they do not.

I planted 5 citrus trees in spring of 2020, and 4 out of 5 survived the next winter in 2020/2021 unprotected. I planted 7 more in spring of 2021, and none of the new trees survived the winter of 2021/2022. I did not protect any of the trees since the first 4 out of 5 survived much colder temperatures than we had in 2021. This year I did provide protection for all the surviving citrus. The 2020 trees were on different root stock than the 2021 trees.