By Clint Thompson
University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) experts caution Florida blueberry growers about the potential for low temperatures this time of year and what management options they need to be concerned with.
Doug Phillips, UF/IFAS blueberry Extension coordinator at the Gulf Coast Research and Education Center, emphasizes the importance of eyeing weather forecasts every day.
“It’s really just a matter of keeping your eye on the weather forecast and looking at both temperature and dew point. The lower that dew point, the quicker the temperature is going to drop once you get chilling air masses moving in,” Phillips said. “It’s really just a matter of, No. 1, keeping your eye on the weather forecasts; No. 2, making sure that you’re prepared in terms of your overhead irrigation system and freeze protection equipment and everything is in good shape and ready to go once that forecast says that you do have a chance of some freezing temperatures. It’s just a matter of being prepared.”
The tightly closed buds provide some protection against any cold temperatures, but once they start to open up and fruit begins to develop, they then become more susceptible.
“Once those blossoms start to open up, that’s when you’ve got to be more watchable and careful,” Phillips said.