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:
- 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.
- 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.
- Water your Satsuma trees. Well watered trees have increased cold hardiness.
- Frames may be installed around young trees to hold the cover. This option keeps the blanket or sheet from weighing down the branches.
- 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.
- Always remember to remove cold protection once the temperature rises so that the trees do not overheat.
- Do not cover trees with plastic tarps, these will not protect the tree and can “cook” the tree once the sun comes out.