Rapid Estimation of Citrus Tree Damage from Hurricanes in Florida Using an Ultrasonic Tree Measurement System

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  • 1 Soil and Water Science Department, University of Florida, IFAS, Citrus Research and Education Center, 700 Experiment Station Road, Lake Alfred, FL 33850.

Many citrus groves in Florida were affected by hurricanes in Summer 2004. A commercial 42-acre `Valencia' sweet orange (Citrus sinensis) grove of 2980 trees was routinely scanned with an automated ultrasonic system to measure and map tree canopy volumes. We estimated tree damage by comparing canopy volumes measured before and after the hurricanes of 2004. Ultrasonically sensed tree canopy volume was mapped and the relative tree canopy volume loss percentage (TCVL%) for each tree was calculated and classified into six categories [≤0 (no damage), 1% to 24%, 25% to 49%, 50% to 74%, 75% to 99%, and 100%]. Authenticity of the ultrasonically sensed missing trees was established by ground truthing or matching visually observed and georeferenced missing tree locations with ultrasonically sensed missing trees in the grove. Ninety-one trees were found missing during ground inspections after hurricanes and they exactly matched with ultrasonically sensed missing tree locations throughout the grove. All of the missing trees were in TCVL% categories 5 and 6 (≥75% damage). Some canopy volume was still detected with ultrasonics at the missing tree locations because of the presence of tall grass, weeds, or branches of large adjacent trees. More than 50% of trees in the grove were damaged (completely or partially) and generally larger trees (>100 m3) were damaged more by the hurricanes than small or medium size trees in each tree canopy volume loss category. The automated ultrasonic system could be used to rapidly identify missing trees (completely damaged) and to estimate partial tree canopy volume loss after hurricanes.

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To whom reprint requests should be addressed; e-mail: schumaw@ufl.edu
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