Blueberry Management Tips Following Hurricane

Hurricane Ian approaches Florida.

By Clint Thompson

Hurricane Ian had varying effects on Florida’s blueberry acres. Some plants dodged the high winds and excessive rainfall while others were not as fortunate.

Post-hurricane management is important for growers in preserving their crop for the following season.

Doug Phillips, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) blueberry Extension coordinator, provides producers tips on how to manage their crop following a major hurricane.

Post-Hurricane Management Tips

Doug Phillips

“The two types of damage you get is water damage and wind damage. With water damage it gets dangerous when you’ve got standing water for a number of days because then you have a situation where the root zone basically has no oxygen. That can result in root damage and also make it more susceptible to root rot disease,” Phillips said. “Obviously, getting the water out of the field is a big deal. There are some fungicide applications that growers can try to do to prevent or minimize root rot.

“For wind damage where plants are blown over, obviously, those need to be reset, but also you can get some root breakage when those are blown over even when you reset them. Sometimes the damage from root damage is not observed for quite a while after the event. If there’s root damage, it could potentially make them more susceptible to soil borne diseases. It’s like an entry point into the plant.

“It’s really a matter of resetting those plants and just trying to keep them from being stressed. Even after the farm and the beds dried out, it’s a good thing to watch for drought stress symptoms. If the roots are compromised, they might not be taking enough water as readily. After everything has dried out, keep a close eye and make sure there’s no drought stress signs in the field.”