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Protect Young Satsuma Trees when Temperatures drop into the 20’s

Satsuma Cold Protection

Mature, dormant Satsuma trees are cold hardy down to 14° – 18 °F, young trees need protection if temperatures dip into the upper 20s.


Photo credit David Marshall

According to the National Weather Service a mild freeze is predicted for Northwest Florida this weekend, specifically Saturday night to Sunday morning.  While mature, dormant Satsuma trees are cold hardy down to 14° – 18 °F, young trees need protection if temperatures dip into the upper 20s.

Here are a few techniques to protect young citrus trees from late-season freezes:

  1. Wrap the trunk with commercial tree wrap or mound soil around the base of the tree up to 2 feet. This will protect the graft of the young tree. Thus, if the branches freeze the graft union will be protected.
  2. Cover the tree with a cloth sheet or blanket. For additional protection, large bulb Christmas lights can be placed around the branches of the tree. This will increase the temperature under the cover by several degrees. Be sure to use outdoor lights and outdoor extension cords to avoid the potential of fire.
  3. Water your Satsuma trees. Well watered trees have increased cold hardiness.
  4. Frames may be installed around young trees to hold the cover. This option keeps the blanket or sheet from weighing down the branches.
  5. For large production areas, micro-irrigation is an option. This practice will protect citrus trees up to 5 feet, but must be running throughout the entire freeze event. For additional information click here.
  6. Always remember to remove cold protection once the temperature rises so that the trees  do not overheat.
  7. Do not cover trees with plastic tarps, these will not protect the tree and can “cook” the tree once the sun comes out.

Please see the following publications by retired UF / IFAS Extension agents Theresa Friday and David Marshall for additional information regarding freeze protection of citrus.

3 Comments on “Protect Young Satsuma Trees when Temperatures drop into the 20’s

  1. I have been following all the IFAS information for several years now about my citrus, but I have never seen it answered as to what a “young” tree is. Is it a certain height, years bearing fruit, years in the ground, years after graft? How can I tell?

  2. Hello, This is a good question. There is no hard or fast rule to determine when a tree is no longer young. If I had to pin it to a year, I would say that trees under 7 years could be considered young for the purposes of this article.

    Trees need the most protection when they are under 3 years old. They are also easier to protect at this age since they are smaller. From 5-7 years, if trees are vigorous and healthy, less protection is needed.

    At 10 years old, minimal protection is needed unless temperatures drop below the mid teens (degrees Fahrenheit).

    Under extremely cold conditions, freeze protection through irrigation is focused on the center of the tree to protect the inner limbs and graft union from damage.

    See this article for more information on micro irrigation cold protection

  3. My question is regarding fruit protection from late spring freeze??!!. I’m in the Panhandle of Florida near Pensacola. Late freeze this year wiped out my blossoms and I have “ONE” satsuma on my tree!!..
    The Tree is between 7-9 years old around 10feet high

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