Evaluation of Freeze Forecasts during a Two-year Period

Gary K England

Abstract


Producers of commercial citrus and certain deciduous fruit crops grown in central Florida typically utilize one or more tactics for freeze protection. Often irrigation systems such as under-tree microsprinklers or overhead solid-set sprinklers are utilized to either raise the temperature in the field or apply a protective coat of ice that prevents susceptible plant parts from dropping below their critical temperature. Since water utilized for freeze protection is a limited natural resource, growers need accurate forecasts so they utilize their irrigation systems for freeze protection only when the probability of temperatures dropping below the critical value for their crop is expected. A freeze forecast resource called Central Florida Weather Watch (CFWW) for an annual fee provides forecasts generated by a retired National Weather Service (NWS) meteorologist and delivered by a recorded message on a toll-free telephone number and electronic mail to subscribers. A comparison of CFWW forecasts and actual lows recorded at selected Florida Automated Weather Network (FAWN) stations in proximity to producers participating in the program were made during the 2011–12 and
2012–13 “freeze seasons.” The standard for comparison for each forecast was a scale utilized by NWS meteorologists where actual temperature vs. forecast value is ±2 °F is a “Hit,” ±4 °F is within tolerance, and ±5 °F is a “Bust.”


Keywords


fruit protection, freeze protection, weather forecast

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Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc.     ISSN 0886-7283