It’s Friday morning, October 7, 2016. Hurricane Matthew passed through the area last night and early this morning. A quick survey shows that it caused little or no damage to most of our citrus crops. However, we’re looking at some more wind and rain today, so we’ll do a more detailed check this weekend. The screen grab is from the Storm app on my iPhone, which provides a great overview of the weather situation.
This part of Florida is known to some as the “Lightning Capital of the World”. This photo from the Storm iPhone app shows a storm that moved through our area on August 18, 2015. In addition to safety measures that have to be taken in the field, we’re also turning off a lot of computers at these times!
I recently heard from the Florida Department of Citrus that they like one of my citrus grove photos that appears on a site I did for the Indian River Citrus League. After a day or two of negotiating, we arrived at an agreement for the FDOC to license the image for their national and international marketing program! Keep on the lookout for it–it might appear in a grocery store near you!
This image was taken at sunrise on November 21, 2010, on the west shore of Lake Hancock in Highland City, Florida. We rented an elevation platform and just hoped we got great sunlight and clouds to go along with it. Sure enough, we did!
• Aperture:ƒ/22• Credit:Steven Rogers• Camera:NIKON D700• Taken:November 21, 2010• Exposure bias:-4/6EV• Focal length:25mm• ISO:500• Shutter speed:1/8s
Tonight, we’re having heavy rain storms. Conditions are flooding some areas in the groves, but overall, this will be good for the trees. Although we are past the time of year when diseases like canker are spread to most susceptible fruit, black spot is still a concern.
Update: We had up to 4 inches in some groves between Lakeland and Bartow.
We are getting a lot of rain this time of year in our Florida citrus groves. The good thing is that it’s helping the trees combat some diseases, such as greening. Most trees, including many sick ones, respond well to the abundant rain and ground and foliar fertilizers that are being applied to the trees. This reinforces my belief that abundant water is more important to helping citrus trees survive greening than initially thought. Others are coming around to this point of view, as shown by some new research that has been initiated to look into those questions. However, the abundant rain makes other diseases, such as citrus canker, worse in some cases. As you can see in this photo, we have a very large citrus canker lesion in an early-variety orange block. This lesion is over 2 inches high and 1 inch wide. Clearly, we have to be diligent about controlling diseases that reach these levels, because otherwise the crop is difficult to sell.
Going down a back road in citrus country in Central Florida, you can see out the back window of your truck that quite a bit of dust us stirred up as you drive. The dust lingers in the air like smoke. This indicates it hasn’t rained for several days, and the top portion of the soil is drying out. It’s not yet dry enough to affect the condition of the trees much, but if these conditions persist for another week or so, we’d likely see the diseased trees–especially those with greening–show wilted foliage.
• Aperture:ƒ/2.7• Credit:Steve Rogers• Camera:Oregon 650• Taken:August 13, 2013• Focal length:4.0819997809mm• Location:27° 56.6819′ 0″ N 81° 54.178′ 0″ W
Tropical Storm Andrea hit Florida and brought around 3 inches of rain or so to our area June 6 and 7. This image shows the roads here just after some of the storm hit. More photos from the groves to come later. Greening-affected trees have responded in a positive way to the rain, with grapefruit doing especially well. This reinforces our belief that having sufficient water for greening-affected trees is vital to their survival, meaning that adequate irrigation will be especially important during dry seasons that come later. Young trees have also grown quite a bit of new flush, so we will need to watch them closely for psyllid and other insect populations that might attack any new growth.
Driving through the groves yesterday and today, you can see Florida citrus groves look good after the mild frost events. The frost mostly was confined to the ground, with little or none seen in the trees. The Valencia orange grove shown in this photo came through without noticeable frost damage to its young flowers, recently-set fruit and feather flush. It’s unusual to have this kind of weather this early in Spring, so hopefully this is the last one of these.
Taken earlier tonight, this is a quick iPhone shot of the north edge of an orange grove showing the temperature station we watch. At 3:15 am here, the temperature is at about 32° F. At this point, this is about 5° lower than forecast. With several hours to go until daylight, it could dip into the upper 20’s. Consequently, it looks like we’re going to have more frost than expected in citrus in our area, but that could change by morning. Irrigation pumps are being started now and based on the conditions, that should do a good job of protecting the young flowers, fruits and flush from frost damage. Updates after the jump.
After a decent scare last night, we have another citrus frost advisory tonight. It’s very unusual to get such advisories this time of year, after about March 15. The photo above is one of our remote temperature-monitoring stations. You can see a mercury thermometer, and a Kestrel mini-weather station set to record temperatures and other data every 30 minutes. It’s a home-made setup because we don’t have a weather station at this location (we have a Davis wireless weather station in another area). Temperatures in general are below average in the area, with a number of record lows around the state this morning. Our forecast tonight is for 37° F, but we have to subtract 5° to 7° from that to get the estimate for the grove. It’s going to be a long night.