Hurricane Preparedness

Josh McGillWeather

hurricane-92968_1280By Bob Rouse and Mongi Zekri

Little can be done to protect trees and fruit from hurricane velocity wind, but we can take steps to protect the people, equipment and supplies that will be needed for the recovery. Below is a checklist for citrus grove managers.

Pre-Hurricane Preparation Checklist

Personnel assignments:

1. Make a list of all tasks and make assignments.
2. Update the names on the damage inspection team.
3. Update worker contact list and means for them to call in after the storm.

Safety training:

Train workers in the safe operation of unfamiliar equipment they may have to use. Example: Drivers may have to use chain saws to remove downed trees blocking roads.


Buildings, equipment including tractors, irrigation parts, and supplies may be damaged.


1. Close storm shutters or board up windows.
2. Store loose, light-weight objects such as garbage cans and tools.

Liquid tanks:

1. Keep fuel, fertilizer and other tanks full so they don’t move in the wind.
2. Ensure sufficient fuel is available.

Roads and Ditches:

1. Clear, grade, and keep roads well maintained and keep ditches clean and pumped down.
2. Arrange with a flying service for grove manager to survey grove damage.

Emergency equipment:

1. Test-run generators, chain saws, torches, air compressors, and other equipment.
2. Have shovels, slings, fuel, paint, and equipment parts available in good repair.
3. Know where to obtain backhoes, front-end loaders, and other heavy equipment.

Communications equipment:

1. Ensure that radios are in good working order.
2. Have hand-held portable radios with extra charged battery packs available.
3. Direct truck-to-truck radio and cellular phones save valuable time during recovery.

Hazardous materials:

1. Secure hazardous materials prior to a storm.
2. Shut down gasoline pumps.

Emergency contacts:

1. Have a list of emergency phone numbers, including electric companies, sheriff, and medical.

Cultural Practices:

1. Regular pruning can reduce broken limbs and minimize toppled or uprooted trees.
2. Windbreaks reduce tree damage and spread of citrus canker bacterium.

Post-Hurricane Recovery Checklist

Damage inspection:

Make a visual assessment of the damage and determine priorities and equipment needed.

Prioritize Damage:

A priority plan can quickly determine where and how to begin recovery operations.

Employee call-in:

When safe, call in those needed for damage inspection and grove recovery work.

Clear road access:

Clear roads to where trees must be reset or recovery activities must be conducted.

Water removal:

Remove excess water from tree root zones within 72 hours to avoid root damage.

Tree rehabilitation:

1. Resetting trees to an upright position should be accomplished as soon as possible.
2. Toppled trees should be pruned back to sound wood.
3. Painting exposed trunks and branches with white latex paint helps prevent sunburn.


Check the irrigation system as rehabilitation is a long process and water is critical.


1. Plant nutrients should be applied when new growth begins.
2. Toppled trees will require less fertilizer due to reduced root system and tree canopy.
3. Reduce N fertilizer proportionally to canopy or leaf loss.
4. The following year, trees may require more-than-normal rates to re-establish canopy.
5. Micronutrients should be applied in nutritional sprays to the leaves.


Resume row middles mowing and herbicide applications on a normal schedule.

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