University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) faculty recommend actions citrus growers can take to prevent further damage to root systems and future fruit drop following Hurricane Ian.
DEAL WITH PHYTOPHTHORA
If standing water has occurred in groves with phytophthora problems, growers should evaluate for root damage and treat accordingly. Floodwaters resulting from heavy rains can severely impact roots already diminished because of HLB disease. Phytophthora is a pathogen that attacks citrus tree roots which are already weakened by HLB. Wet conditions, especially flooded groves, increase the possibility of phytophthora infection in groves with historical problems.
USE GIBBERELLIC ACID
Hurricane Ian caused fruit to drop from trees but also weakened fruit left on trees. Tripti Vashisth, associate professor of horticulture, recommends applying gibberellic acid (GA) in the next few weeks and prior to Oct. 30 to support the tree’s ability to hold its fruit.
“Extensive leaf loss is going to stress already stressed trees,” Vashisth said. “It is quite likely that extensive leaf loss with good soil moisture will induce new growth. GA application at this time can help with rehabilitating the trees and improve the leaf growth.”
Some growers are already using GA in a series of applications to improve fruit production and should continue to do so. Growers not using GA in this way are encouraged to make at least one application to encourage leaf growth lost to the hurricane, which will support future fruit production. Read more on applying GA.
WATCH FOR PSYLLID FLAREUPS
Tree defoliation also poses the risk of Asian citrus psyllids being attracted to any new flush that the trees will produce. It would be wise to watch for pest flareups associated with intense flushing later in October in those areas where groves were heavily defoliated by Ian.
Additional information regarding post-hurricane measures, including information on insurance and disaster relief claims, may be found in the Citrus Producers Guide to Hurricane Preparation and Recovery in the Southeastern United States. The guide is written by UF/IFAS assistant professor Fernando Alferez and Mongi Zekri, UF/IFAS Extension agent.
TAKE THE SURVEY
The UF/IFAS Economic Impact Analysis Program has deployed an updated, streamlined version of its assessment tool to assess the impacts of Hurricane Ian. The UF/IFAS Agricultural Damage and Loss Assessment survey was distributed via UF/IFAS social media pages immediately after the hurricane and will continue to be shared via Florida Cooperative Extension and with collaborating industry associations. The assessment tool will be open for several weeks to allow for data to continue to come in from areas that have experienced the most intense impacts. Take the survey here.
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