Time To Start Thinking About Citrus Protection

Satsuma tree damaged by frost
Matthew Orwat, Horticulture Agent UF IFAS Washington County
Published: Thursday, November 14, 2013 at 01:28 PM.

Washington County experienced its first freeze event the night of November 13th. Colder weather is sure to follow Does Northwest Florida Citrus Need Protection?

A concrete answer to this question does not exist. Growers must consider several factors including type of citrus grown and the location of the citrus.

Below are a few quick facts to assist growers and home gardeners in determining whether to protect or not to protect their citrus:

Certain citrus trees such as lime, pomelo, grapefruit, sweet orange, lemon and citron will definitely need protection or need to be moved into a sheltered area. Individuals that grow these types on a consistent basis either wrap their trees with protective covers each season or grow them in containers and move them into greenhouses.

The meyer lemon, which is in reality a lemon-sweet orange hybrid, is a tree that was introduced to the united states in 1908. Mature dormant meyer lemons can be hardy down to 20°F, with fruit hardy to 26°F. Immature trees, or those that have not reached dormancy, should be protected. Covers made of cloth should be large enough to touch the ground so that heat from the soil can help keep the tree warm.

Generally, Satsuma trees are cold tolerant down to 15° F, but young trees or trees yet to achieve dormancy are usually only tolerant to 26°F. Fruit should not sustain damage from freezing temperatures above 25°F. Extreme winds sometimes make the effects of freeze events worse, so it is always better to err on the side of protection if the trees are planted in an exposed site.

Kumquats are the most cold tolerant citrus type grown in Northwest Florida, so protection is not required unless freeze events reach 20°F.

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