(UF/IFAS) — University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Extension will educate growers on how to protect their crops and prepare for cold weather at the upcoming Winter Weather School.
This year, the event will address winter crop protection for citrus, blueberries and ornamental plants; all of which need cold protection during severe weather.
“While we have not had significant freeze damage in recent years, there are increased chances for severe weather events with our current climate conditions,” Juanita Popenoe, Lake County UF/IFAS Extension agent said. “With the neutral El Niño phase we are currently in, this is historically where we have had our worst cold weather spells.”
The program will provide a long-range weather outlook, appropriate crop protection measures for each crop, how to ensure cold protection systems are ready and how to decide when to deploy freeze protection measures based on the correct weather data and forecasting.
“There are a lot of little tricks to make sure a freeze protection system is ready,” Popenoe said. “Making sure you have enough fuel to run the tanks and understanding the best time to turn the irrigation on can be a challenge. If you wait too long, the water will be frozen in the tubes and you cannot protect your crop. We will discuss how to make these decisions.”
A critical piece to decision making during an impending freeze is the data you use to drive those decisions, according to Popenoe.
“There are so many different sources of weather information now that the grower has to make sure they are getting reliable data that is accurate for their site,” Popenoe said. “There are all types of systems and sources and it can be confusing as to who you can trust because they can all be slightly different.”
Different sources of weather data and reliability will be discussed at Winter Weather School, including education on the Florida Automated Weather Network tools available for growers.
The event, held at the UF/IFAS Extension Lake County office, takes place on Nov. 19. Lunch is provided and attendees can sign up by visiting eventbrite.com/e/winter-weather-school-2019-tickets-67578640533.