For the first time since the great freeze of '89-90, we have experienced a little more than minor damage to our crops. Compared to the San Joaquin Valley, Ventura country escaped without major damage; although there were some areas harder hit like the Ojai Valley and some canyons near Santa Paula. Many parts of the SJV were hard hit.
As in the freeze of 1990, your trees must be cared for in the same way during this post freeze period. In 1990, advice was issued to the grower about the rehabilitation of their trees, both citrus and avocado. We would like to review that information for you at this time. How can we best aid tree recovery so that tree growth and yield will proceed most rapidly?
Citrus and avocado leaves appear wilted or flaccid during periods of low temperature. This is a natural protective response to freezing temperatures and does not mean the leaves have been frozen. Leaves will be firm and brittle and often curled when frozen. Leaves become flaccid after thawing, and if the injury is not too great, they gradually regain turgor and recover, leaving however, dark flecks on the leaves. Seriously frozen leaves collapse, dry out, and remain on the tree. Foliage form recent flushes are most susceptible to this damage. If twigs or wood have been seriously damaged, the frozen leaves may remain on the tree for several weeks. If the twigs and wood have not been damaged severely, the leaves are rapidly shed. Trees losing their leaves rapidly is often a good sign and is not, as many growers believe a sign of extensive damage.
Cold damage to the twigs appears as water soaking or discoloration. In older branches and trunks it appears as splitting or loosening of bark where the cambium has been killed. Bark may curl and dry with many small cracks. Dead patches of bark may occur in various locations on limbs and trunk.
Sensitivity to frost is dependent upon many variables. In general, mandarins are the most cold hardy followed by sweet orange and grapefruit. Lemons are very frost sensitive with Eureka decidedly more sensitive than Lisbon. For avocados, Hass is about as cold tolerant as lemons, while Bacon is more cold tolerant. Limes are the least cold hardy. Healthy trees are more tolerant than stressed ones. The rootstock also imparts sensitivity onto the scion.
Injury to the foliage and to young trees may be immediately recognizable but the true extent of the damage to larger branches, trunks, and rootstocks may not appear for on to four months following the freeze. No attempt should be made to prune or even assess damage from the frost until spring when new growth appears.
The only treatment that should be done rapidly after a freeze is whitewashing. Often the most sever damage following a freeze results from sunburn of exposed twigs and branches after defoliation. Avocados and lemons are the most susceptible to sunburn, oranges not as much; but, if the tree has been defoliated, applying whitewash would be precautionary. Temperatures do not have to be extremely high to cause sunburn.
Pruning should be carried out to prevent secondary pathogens and wood decay organisms from slowing tree recovery. Again, however, there should be no rush to prune. Premature pruning, at the very least, may have to be repeated and, at the worst, it can slow tree rehabilitation. It should be remembered that when pruning, all cuts should be made into living wood. Try to cut flush with existing branches at crotches. Do not leave branch stubs or uneven surfaces. Tools should be disinfected in bleach or other fungicide before moving on to the next tree.
The extent of pruning is dictated by the amount of freeze damage:
|Light Damage||Medium Damage||Severe Damage||Extreme Damage|
|Where only the foliage and small twigs are injured,pruning is not required||Where a considerable part of the top has been killed but the trunk and main crown limbs show little damage, branches should be removed back to living wood above vigorous sprouts||
Where the top and crown limbs are severely damaged but there are sprouts above the bud union, the tree should be cut back to the uppermost sprout
Where trees are killed to the bud union or the rootstock has been girdled, the trees should be removed and replaced with new trees
Irrigate carefully! Remember that when leaves are lost, obviously evaporation from leaves is greatly reduced, and, therefore the amount of water required is also greatly reduced. A frost-damaged tree will use the same amount of water as a much younger or smaller tree. Over irrigation will not result in rapid recovery. Instead, it may induce root damage and encourage growth of root rotting organisms. This is particularly true for avocados. Irrigation should be less frequent, and smaller amounts of water should be applied until trees have regained their normal foliage development.
Fertilization of freeze-damaged trees should be carefully considered. There is no evidence to indicate that frozen trees respond to any special fertilizer that is supposed to stimulate growth. If trees are severely injured-with large limbs or even parts of the trunk killed-nitrogen fertilizer applications should be greatly reduced, until the structure and balance of the tree become re-established. Trees should be watched for evidence of deficiencies of minor elements. Deficiencies of zinc, manganese, copper, and iron are most likely to develop. For citrus, these materials should be applied as sprays, and they should be used as often as symptoms are observed. Two or more applications may be required the first year.
- Author: Sonia Rios
Rios completed an M.S. in Plant Science with an emphasis in Weed Science from California State University, Fresno, a B.S. in Plant Science from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona
Prior to accepting her advisor position, Rios served as a staff research associate in UCCE Tulare County where she assisted advisors in all phases of applied agricultural research (field and greenhouse research on cereal crops, cotton and weed management). She was involved in approximately 30 – 40 research projects that included research testing in herbicide resistance, variety evaluations, and pest management including evaluating new herbicides and insecticides. Rios has conducted and reported agronomy research experiments through data collection that is statistically analyzed, translated and disseminated to clientele; maintained research plots; prepared educational materials for research reports and University publications that would benefit California growers, industry clientele; assisted regulatory agencies with science-based information; conducted radio interviews; and she was a regular speaker at the Tulare County Pesticide Safety meetings. In addition to working with UC, she was also her main professors' student research assistant that would help with trials on campus, assist undergraduates with their research projects and spent time in the classroom teaching.
Rios had also worked with the United States Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) inspecting airplanes for Japanese beetle as an Agriculture Aide I. She also worked with the United States Department of Food and Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service as a Forestry Technician.
Rios will be working in education and applied research program in tree crops production and marketing in Riverside and San Diego Counties. Primary target crops are citrus, avocados and dates, but also include other subtropical and deciduous fruit and nut crops, such as pomegranates, figs, mangos and walnuts.
She will facilitate interactions and information exchange among campus based academic, Cooperative Extension advisors and community stakeholders. Focus is expected on increasing productivity and efficiency of commercial tree crops operations, thus maximizing the return on invested capital, and at the same time, providing consumers with a high quality, safe and reasonably-priced product. The advisor will address emerging production issues in subtropical fruit crops including: horticulture, entomology, plant pathology, integrated pest management, plant nutrition and variety testing. She will be working closely with the subtropical horticulture industries, local growers and members of the subtropical horticulture and nuts and fruits workgroup to identify research areas of highest priority. Her contact information is as follows:
Cooperative Extension Riverside County 21150 Box Springs Road, Suite 202 Moreno Valley, CA 92557-8718
Email Address: email@example.com
- Author: Jeannette Warnert
UC Agriculture and Natural Resources scientists based at UC Riverside are honing in on odors that might lure Asian citrus psyllids into traps, and other odors that will keep them away from citrus trees, reported Mark Muckenfuss in the Riverside Press-Enterprise.
Anandasankar Ray, professor in the Department of Entomology at UCR, along with two other researchers, published results recently that Ray believes are promising enough they may soon be adapted for grower use.
Ray and his team tested three attractant odors in El Monte backyards using yellow sticky traps. More than twice the number of psyllids were found in the scented traps compared to unscented traps, the article said. In time the researchers will also test chemicals that can mask odors that are pleasant to Asian citrus psyllids and some that repel the insects.
Other research projects underway at UC Riverside to combat Asian citrus psyllid and the disease it can spread were also noted in the Press-Enterprise article. They are: biological controls, including a tiny wasp imported from Pakistan that feeds on the psyllids; insecticides; developing resistant strains of citrus trees; finding a way to kill the bacteria spread by psyllids once it is in the tree; and discovering ways to identify diseased trees earlier.
Edema may be caused by any agent that stimulates an abnormal increase in the size and number of a group of inner cells. Edema can be induced by (1) spraying with some chemicals such as ammoniacal copper carbonate in an oil emulsion, (2) injuries resulting from wind-blown sand particles and sucking insects, (3) high light intensity (over 2000 foot-candles) for ivy geraniums, and (4) accumulation of water in the intercellular spaces.
The most common cause of edema is the presence of abundant, warm soil water and a cool, moist atmosphere. Under these conditions the roots absorb water at a rate faster than is lost through transpiration. Excess water accumulates in the leaf, some parenchyma cells enlarge and block the stomatal openings through which water vapor is normally released from the plant; thereby contributing to further water retention in the leaf. If this condition persists, the enlarged cells divide, differentiate a cork cambium, and develop elongate cork cells externally to form a periderm. The rupture of the epidermis by the enlarged inner cells and the periderm account for the raised, crusty appearance of older edema spots.
Changes in weather and cultural practices of growing plants usually will avoid edema. To reduce the risk of edema occurrence, the following may be helpful:
1. Avoid irrigation or watering during cool, overcast humid weather. For potted plants in greenhouses, remove saucers under pots, or discard any water that remains in the saucer 30 minutes after watering. Irrigate or water when air temperature are rising or humidity is low.
2. In greenhouses: a) reduce the humidity of the air by venting and increasing heat; b) improve air circulation; c) increase light intensity; d) space the plants farther apart; e) for potted plants use a well-drained potting medium for potted plants and avoid standing water in saucers under the pots.
3. Avoid overfertilizing, especially when the plants are growing slowly, such as during the winter months. Maintain fertility based on a soil test. Avoid low levels of potassium and calcium.
4. Avoid cultivars that are highly susceptible to edema under your growing conditions.
The black spots on the fruit start out as a clear exudate. The same for the brown spots on the leaves.
Impacts of the recent drought conditions on Central Coast avocado production, and potential impacts of continued drought conditions
Avocados are the most salt and drought sensitive of our fruit tree crops. They are shallow rooted and are not able to exploit large volumes of soil and therefore are not capable of fully using stored rainfall. On the other hand, the avocado is highly dependent on rainfall for leaching accumulated salts resulting from irrigation water. In years with low rainfall, even well irrigated orchards will show salt damage. During flowering there can be extensive leaf drop due to the competition between flowers and leaves when there is salt/drought stress. In order to reduce leaf damage and retain leaves, an excess amount of water is required to leach salts out of the roots zone. The more salts in the water and the less rainfall, the greater leaching fraction. Drought stress often leads to diseases, such as black streak, bacterial canker, and blight (stem, leaf, and fruit). Defoliation leads to sunburned trees and fruit which can be severe economic losses.
Strategies to address drought conditions
Ensure that the irrigation system is at its greatest potential and is maintained. Avocados are grown on hillsides and pressure regulation is extremely important and is frequently neglected.
Significantly prune trees to reduce leaf area. Avocado can be a very large tree, and if half the canopy is removed, there can be as much as 1/3 reduction in water use. When trees are about 15 feet tall, removing half the canopy can reduce water use by one half.
In extreme drought conditions, the canopy can be reduced to just the skeleton branches which are white washed to prevent sunburn. Water use drops to zero, and then gradually as the tree leafs out, water can be slowly reapplied, but at significantly less amounts than with the full canopy. Stumping typically results in three years' worth of crop.
In orchards that have low producing areas, because of recurrent frost, high winds, shallow soils, disease, etc. the grower could decide to completely remove those trees, thereby saving water.
White kaolin applied to leaves has been shown to reduce leaf temperatures and water loss. This can be used, but under the direction of the packing house, since if it is applied to fruit, it is very difficult to remove.
Impacts of the recent drought conditions on Central Coast citrus production, and potential impacts of continued drought conditions
Citrus is much less sensitive to salts and drought than avocado, partially because of its greater rooting depth. However, it is much more sensitive than deciduous fruit trees, resulting in smaller fruit and lower prices when drought cannot be addressed with adequate irrigation water. Drought also makes the trees more susceptible to leaf drop, and sunburned fruit.
Strategies to address drought conditions
The strategies for citrus are very similar to those for avocado. It is much more sensitive to pruning to reduce water use than avocado. Typically removing half the canopy results in half the water use. Because of thus greater control, citrus is rarely stumped.
By reducing canopy size, production can be maintained, often without loss of fruit size.
Kaolin clay can effectively reduced water use and can be applied soon after harvest without the problem of coating fruit making its removal difficult at the packing house.