Cold Acclimation Helping Trees Rebound From Freeze

Josh McGillCold Hardy, freeze

Trees in the Sweet Valley Citrus region are more acclimated to cold temperatures than those in Central and South Florida. That is a reason that Bill Barber, Certified Crop Adviser and owner of Barber Ag Services, believes citrus trees in North Florida, South Georgia and South Alabama have rebounded well following the Christmas freeze event.

Satsuma trees are rebounding well from the Christmas freeze.

“I first thought the worst. With the temperatures that we had, I thought it was pretty much over,” Barber said. “But these trees seem to take the cold a little better. We have better conditioning weather up here and more of it. What I’m seeing now is that most trees that I thought weren’t going to make it are going to make it. They are budding out right now, and there’s a lot of bloom coming with a lot of them.”

Trees that have had time to acclimate to cooler temperatures in the fall are more apt to respond favorably to colder temperatures in the winter, like the multiple days of sub-freezing temperatures during Christmas week.

“In the fall, we get a lot more of these pleasant days (in Georgia) that are in the 50s and low 60s in the daytime and high 30s and low 40s at night. It just conditions these trees to go more dormant,” Barber said. “Every tree can’t go completely dormant, but it puts them in a more dormant state, and I think that’s the difference.”

Barber was a guest panelist during the Georgia Citrus Association’s annual meeting on Feb. 28 in Tifton. He reiterated the common theme following the freeze that the satsumas have rebounded fine, while other varieties are hurt worse.

“We’ll have a crop next year,” Barber says. He added that, for the most part, trees survived the prolonged cold temperatures. While some young trees may not have made it through the freeze, microjet protection and major pruning will help others survive.

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Clint Thompson

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