As citrus season progresses, let’s take a moment to talk about windbreaks and their importance to citrus trees. The United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service defines windbreaks as “plantings of single or multiple rows of trees and shrubs that are established for environmental purposes.”
Here are a few different types of windbreaks; including natural, living, and artificial. When it comes to Florida, we’ll focus on living windbreaks as the rapid growth of Eucalyptus trees makes them an ideal fit for fruit trees, citrus, and vegetables.
The benefits of windbreaks include reductions in soil loss, nutrient loss, and irrigation loss, physical abrasion to crops, agriculture chemical drift, and disease. In Florida specifically, windbreaks serve as a great prevention tool for canker disease, which is substantially spread by wind-blown rain.
“Potentially reducing the incidence of windblown disease, specifically citrus canker, is a huge advantage of windbreaks. These natural barriers may also reduce wind speeds in a planting during advective freeze conditions, potentially enhancing cold protection of trees and or fruit,” explains Chris Oswalt, a UF/IFAS extension agent that provides wide-ranging educational programs to grove owners, managers, and employers.
Further benefits from a well-designed windbreak include increase yields, influencing the microclimate around the crops, reduce fruit blemishing from wind scar, and producing lumber, paper, mulch wood, and energywood byproducts.
When it comes to the placement of your windbreak, studies have shown that the effective distance of wind reduction on the lee side (protected side) of a windbreak ranges between 10 to 30 times the height of the windbreak.
“In citrus, 25 feet from the edge of the grove seems to be an adequate location for your windbreak. This gives your trees protection while still allowing for the movement of grove equipment along the edge of the grove. Windbreaks generally influence wind speed “downrange” 10 feet for every foot of windbreak height. So, if the windbreak was 40 feet tall the wind would be affected (to some degree) out to 400 feet from the windbreak,” says Oswalt.
Eucalyptus Trees can grow to 50 to 60 feet in six years which offers windbreak protection from wind and disease for crops up to 600 to1,800 feet. To learn more about windbreaks and how you can order Eucalyptus trees for your citrus tree’s protection, visit ruckscitrusnursery.com.