By Mongi Zekri, Robert E. Rouse and Jonathan H. Crane
Growers can prepare for the damaging winds from a hurricane or tropical storm by ensuring that their equipment is working and ready to go.
Tanks containing fuel, fertilizer and other materials should be kept full, so they do not move in the wind and rain and to ensure that sufficient fuel is available for machinery used in recovery efforts after the storm.
Hazardous materials should be secured prior to a storm, and gasoline pumps should be shut down.
Make sure that all emergency equipment — including generators, chain saws, torches and air compressors — is on hand and in good repair. Large diesel-powered generators with 25- to 60-kilowatt capacity can be rented or leased by the month during the hurricane season.
Ensure that radios are in good working order. Have handheld portable radios with extra charged battery packs available for workers who will need them in the field after the storm. Direct truck-to-truck radio communication is most dependable when phone lines are down. Cellular phones with radio capabilities and standard cellular phones can help workers save valuable time during the recovery process.
Have a list of phone numbers you might need in an emergency, including numbers for the phone and electric companies, sheriff and medical facilities.
Trees should be pruned regularly to reduce broken limbs and minimize toppled or uprooted trees. Windbreaks can also reduce tree damage and the spread of citrus canker bacterium.
Ditches should be kept clean and pumped down to help maximize water removal efforts after the storm.
While some of these steps may seem simple, tending to them before a storm is on the horizon will help growers respond as soon as the storm passes.
Mongi Zekri is a multi-county University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Extension citrus agent based in Labelle. Robert E. Rouse is a UF/IFAS retired associate professor. Jonathan H. Crane is associate center director, professor and tropical fruit crop specialist at UF/IFAS Tropical Research and Education Center in Homestead.
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