New Hurricane Guide for Citrus Growers

Ernie Neffhurricane

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University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences citrus horticulturist Fernando Alferez and multi-county citrus Extension agent Mongi Zekri co-authored a new document on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Hurricane Preparation and Recovery Commodity Guides website. The Citrus Producers Guide includes long- and short-term recommendations for building resilience to hurricanes in citrus groves, nurseries and citrus under protective screens (CUPS). It also addresses damage evaluation to assist with recovery, and horticultural recovery efforts to put trees back into production.

Early in the 62-page document, Alferez and Zekri note that while hurricanes have always been a threat to citrus, the threat is growing. They point out that as ocean temperatures rise, hurricane intensity is increasing. Read about the busy hurricane season projected for this year.  

The authors stress the importance of pre- and post-hurricane documentation for insurance compensation and recovery assistance purposes. They urge growers to record damages and losses, as well as their cleanup and recovery efforts. Regular reviews of insurance coverage are also recommended.

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Infrastructure recommendations include constructing buildings with a minimum wind rating of 140 miles per hour and planting windbreaks around groves. They note that a single row of windbreak trees can reduce wind speed and damage.

The authors suggest that CUPS growers install screens that can be removed and stored before a hurricane and easily put back after the storm.

Variety selection plays a part in hurricane planning, the authors state. They point out that in Southwest Florida during Hurricane Irma in 2017, Hamlin and Valencia trees on Swingle and Cleopatra rootstocks performed much better than on Flying Dragon and Volkameriana rootstocks. They also discuss variety/rootstock combinations that worked best in the Panhandle when Hurricane Michael devastated that area in 2018.

In the post-hurricane recovery section, Alferez and Zekri suggest that growers remove water from groves within 72 hours if possible to avoid root damage.

See the complete guide here.

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Ernie Neff

Ernie Neff

Senior Correspondent at Large

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