Tips for Post-Hurricane Tree Recovery

Ernie Neffhurricane


evan johnson

University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences horticulturist Evan Johnson offers care tips for trees recovering from Hurricane Irma. A key suggestion is not to push the growth of trees damaged by the storm.

Johnson notes that many trees suffered from standing in water for five days and more, and from having leaves blown off. Those issues lead to thinning of the fruit crop, he explains. Johnson says growers were already seeing early fruit drop following Irma, “and we’re also going to see a slower growth pattern in this next year, probably.”

“We want the tree to have a chance to recover,” Johnson says. He says pushing tree growth too quickly can imbalance the tree and lead to more long-term tree damage. “So we need to let the tree slowly recover … before we start pushing that tree to really grow and produce a larger fruit crop again.”

Johnson suggests that it may make sense to plant new trees in place of some trees that suffered structural root damage. It can take years for such damaged trees to recover and produce normal amounts of fruit, he says. “You need to make a decision as you’re looking at the state of these trees. Is it better to remove the tree and not put more money into it” and instead replant with new trees?

Johnson suggests growers do all they can to maintain good root health, paying special attention to management of phytophthora, Diaprepes root weevil, nematodes, salinity and drainage. He made a presentation on the hurricane-recovery topic at January’s Florida Citrus Show in Fort Pierce.

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About the Author

Ernie Neff

Senior Correspondent at Large