A Survey of Cold Protection Methods for Florida Citrus

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  • 1 Horticultural Sciences Dept., Univ. of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611-0690
  • 2 Program Evaluation and Organizational Development, Univ. of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611-0690

During Summer 1996, a disproportionate systematic sampling procedure was used to obtain an initial sample of 955 citrus growers from the mailing lists of extension agents in 27 counties. Of these, 451 usable responses were returned (67% response rate), providing an expected error of ± 4.3% with a 95% confidence interval. Surveyed growers obtained weather information during the 1995–96 winter from multiple sources, including the National Weather Service (NWS) (48%), commercial radio/TV (48%), Extension offices (18%), private meteorologists (9%), and other sources (10%). After the NWS discontinued agricultural freeze forecasts in Apr. 1996, growers indicated they would rely on commercial radio/TV (72%); private meteorologists (20%), and their County Extension Office (32%) for weather reports. When deciding which cold protection method to use, respondents adopted Extension (35%) and consultants' recommendations (30%), assessed the costs and benefits of cold protection (32%), and assessed risks based on grove history (38%). Cold protection methods used by percent respondents included: flooding groves (22%); grove heaters (2%); wind machines (2%); permanent overhead irrigation systems (2%); ground microsprinklers (76%); in-tree microsprinklers (18%); tree wraps (13%); and tree wraps or covers with microsprinklers (6%). Seventy-three percent of growers reported that their cold protection methods were very effective for a freeze with minimum temperatures of –2°C for at least 4 hr, with 12% and 3% reporting cold protection measures being very effective at –7 and –9°C, respectively.

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