Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency in California after nearly three-quarters of the state’s citrus crop was wiped out by subfreezing weather last week, causing up to $1 billion in losses. Prices around the country are expected to rise drastically, as California is the nation’s major producer of fresh citrus fruit.

San Francisco Chronicle:

The freezing weather already has driven up the price of citrus fruits and other produce, which might cost consumers two or three times more this season.

The cold spell is expected to ease [Wednesday], but estimates put the statewide damage at up to $1 billion, including damage to oranges, lemons, avocados, strawberries and other fruits. Some farmers expect to lose up to 70 percent of their crop, which prompted Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to proclaim a state of emergency in 10 counties Tuesday and ask the federal government to speed aid to affected farmers.

Farmers and agriculture officials say it could be the worst freeze to hit the state’s farms in decades — more damaging than the 1998 freeze that ruined more than $700 million in crops.

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