This summer has been a steamy one with some Florida locations breaking record highs. The latest episode of the All In For Citrus podcast took up the hot topic with Amir Rezazadeh, a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) fruit and field crops Extension agent. He addressed how heat can affect citrus trees and people working in the groves.
Rezazadeh noted that temperatures in excess of 90 degrees can have negative effects on citrus vegetative growth, flowering and fruit set. “High temperatures can also impact fruit quality — the size, shape and texture of the fruit,” he said.
While growers can’t change the weather, Rezazadeh said weather forecasts are very good these days at predicting what temperatures will be as far as 10 days out. When high heat is predicted, he recommended that growers irrigate regularly in morning or evening to reduce evaporation of water. More frequent irrigation is especially important for young trees because they don’t have fully developed root systems.
Soil moisture sensors also can help growers monitor when irrigation is needed. That need will be increased when temperatures are high.
Keeping workers safe from heat is something that growers can control. Rezazadeh recommended they learn the signs of heat stress and monitor workers during hot periods.
“The better plan for employers is to have a heat prevention program before summer begins,” he said. “Train workers about heat stress and how to avoid it.”
Rezazadeh advised growers to always keep cool water available for workers. Heavy work should be scheduled in the early morning and afternoon, not in the heat of mid-day.
Hear more on heat mitigation in the June episode of the All In For Citrus podcast. The podcast is a joint project of UF/IFAS and AgNet Media.
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