The Impact of four hurricanes in 2004 on the Florida Citrus Industry: Experiences and lessons learned

L. Gene Albrigo, Richard S. Buker, Jacqueline K. Burn, William S. Castle, Stephen Futch, Calyton W. McCoy, Ronald P. Muraro, Michael E. Rogers, James P. Syvertsen, L. W. Timmer, John Attaway, Kim Bowman, K. W. Hancock, Mark A. Ritenour, Peter D. Spyke, R. C. Vaghon


Florida citrus areas were affected by four severe hurricanes (three direct hits) within a 6-week period in August and September 2004. All segments of the Florida citrus industry were impacted either directly or indirectly. Citrus nurseries suffered extensive losses and bearing trees were uprooted, broken or lost leaves and fruit. Compared to the 2003-04 season, the orange crop was reduced by 31% while grapefruit yields were reduced by 68%. Re-establishing grove operations and water management practices were major tasks for growers affected by the hurricanes. Tree damage, survival, and recovery depended on pre-existing pest pressures, cultivars, tree canopy size, grove architecture, cultural practices, and the hurricanes' forces in the specific areas and blocks. For example, in young rootstock trials there was more tree blow-over apparently attributable to larger canopy volume relative to rooting, lack of rooting symmetry, and previous root weevil damage. Evaluation of different hedging and topping recovery practices indicated that early fall timing reduced return bloom in 2005. Some pest populations increased on the heavy fall flush in 2004 following mature leaf loss. This article brings together some useful information about hurricane preparedness and recovery practices for citrus production.


building loss; fall flush; flowering; fruit loss; future yields; leaf loss; tree damage; tree recovery

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