Windbreaks embraced for limiting crop damage, disease

Spring is upon us and, with it, more persistent winds that spread disease in the fields. It’s time to reconsider the benefits of windbreaks, or trees and shrubs used to limit crop damage from the wind. [emember_protected custom_msg=”Click here and register now to read the rest of the article!”]

On the plus side, windbreaks have been proven to be helpful to reduce the spread of citrus canker. Now they’re being studied for their ability to limit the movement of the psyllid, the insect that spreads citrus greening or Huanglongbing (HLB) disease.

In an effort to control wind scar, soil erosion, and the spread of disease, many citrus growers and row crop farmers have planted Torelliana and Eucalyptus trees for their fast-paced growth and full-leaf canopy.

You can learn about other options through “Windbreak Plants Species for Florida Citrus Groves,” published a few years ago by Dr. Bill Castle of the University of Florida’s Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred. You can find it online here:

http://www.crec.ifas.ufl.edu/extension/windbreaks/pdf/plant_species.pdf

Windbreaks possibly can cause problems, like crop shading. They can compete with your crops for nutrients and water. They’ll reduce the number of acres you have for crops, plus they’ll cost money to maintain. But in some farmers’ minds, the benefits outweigh the cost.

column by BRAD WEIHRAUCH

BIO: Brad Weihrauch is a Polk County native. He grew up around a family business of agriculture and customer service. After Winter Haven High School, he went on to complete his education at Polk Community College and Warner Southern College. After serving 17 years in customer service for a large retailer, Weihrauch returned to his agriculture roots and founded RWC, an agri-service and management company, in 2002. [/emember_protected]