Will There Be a Citrus Freeze?

Ernie NeffFreeze Protection, Weather

citrus cold protection
citrus cold protection

Rick Lusher

Rick Lusher, project manager for the Florida Automated Weather Network (FAWN), won’t predict whether there’ll be a citrus freeze this season. But he did tell growers in Sebring on December 15 what weather the federal government is expecting through freeze season. “The most recent three-month outlook that NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) provides shows above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation,” Lusher says. He emphasizes that individual events can’t be predicted based on that outlook.

He notes that FAWN has entered its heavy use season. “Our prime time … is definitely during the cold season, which is for us the beginning of November probably through the end of March. Most of our website activity … occurs during that time.”

Lusher summarizes FAWN tools for citrus growers, including the Cold Protection Toolkit that helps growers determine whether to use irrigation for cold protection and when to stop irrigating. He says FAWN seems to be heavily used by growers. “It seems like all the ones I talk to are definitely aware of FAWN and many of them use our Cold Protection Toolkit.”

There are 42 FAWN weather stations in Florida, but Lusher notes growers can establish their own stations and receive information about them through FAWN. “The My Florida Farm Weather program is a Florida Department of Agriculture cost-share program, where they are helping farmers install weather stations on their property,” Lusher says. “FAWN is in charge of collecting and disseminating this data.” He says the program gives growers precise geographic information to use when making cold protection decisions. “And we actually display the Cold Protection Toolkit as it applies to each of those stations, and there are about 200 in the state right now,” he adds.

Lusher made his presentation at a Highlands County OJ break. The break was hosted by Laurie Hurner, Highlands County Extension director and citrus agent.

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About the Author
Ernie Neff

Ernie Neff

Senior Correspondent at Large