Citrus flowering is a complex phenological process influenced by a number of interacting factors. Low winter temperatures are recognized as an important factor, but the flowering response has not been quantified under Variable natural conditions. A study was conducted to monitor the flower bud induction response of `Valencia' and `Hamlin' sweet orange trees [Citrus sinensis (L.) Osbeck] to naturally occurring winter weather conditions during the 1999 and 2000 seasons. The flowering response was quantified and related to shoot age, bud position along the shoot, local weather information, and crop load status. Results indicate that buds on previous summer shoots developed 2.52 and 3.59 to 1 flower on spring shoots, for `Hamlin' and `Valencia', respectively. In addition, buds at apical positions produced more flowers than buds located far from the apex. These basal positions buds required higher induction levels. Under Florida conditions, greater accumulation of hours of temperatures 11 to 15 °C increased floral intensity by the combined effect on the number of sprouting buds with reproductive growth and the number of flowers per flowering bud. Some statistical analyses indicated that high winter temperatures reduced flowering in `Valencia' and `Hamlin' oranges. The presence of fruit consistently reduced reproductive response for both cultivars. Crop load reduced flowering by an average of 41.5% compared to no crop and varied by cultivar. A discussion on the different induction requirements as well as on the differential effect of crop load on flowering by cultivar is presented.
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