Find out how to assess citrus root damage caused by Hurricane Irma.


There has been a lot of coverage concerning damage Hurricane Irma caused to the Florida citrus industry with photos of dropped fruit, uprooted trees, and groves underwater. Unfortunately, root damage has likely occurred as well, even though it doesn’t create quite the photo op that other types of damages create. Explore how to assess if your citrus trees have sustained root damage, as supplied by Evan Johnson, a Research Assistant Scientist of plant pathology with UF/IFAS who specializes in citrus root health, in a Growing Produce article.

Assessing Root Damage


Damage can be caused by storms like Hurricane Irma or even just by flooding itself. Johnson maintained that assessing damage includes:

  1. Use a shovel to expose a small area of the roots under a few test trees that experienced flooding.
  2. Assess the “crunch factor.” When cutting through fibrous roots with a shovel or soil probe in the flooded zone under a tree, there should be an audible crunch sound.
  3. Visually examine exposed roots. According to the article, “White or very light tan/yellow roots are new growth. Existing roots are light brown and remain intact when handled. Damaged roots will be reddish to dark brown.”
  4. Feel exposed roots. Damaged roots will feel mushy, and can even “slough off,” leaving just the fibrous core.
  5. Take Post-Hurricane Soil Samples and Compare to Historic Testing. Johnson said, “With the current status of HLB and its effects on the root system, it is difficult to assess whether the damage is due to flooding from the hurricane or HLB. To specifically assess the damage from storm requires historic root density and Phytophthora data, then taking post-hurricane soil cores for the same analysis and comparing the two.”

Griffin Fertilizer is committed to helping both growers and ranchers make sound agronomic and economic decisions in order to maximize the health of their grove and pasture. As a full-service custom dry & liquid fertilizer blender and crop protection product distributor, we will continue our mission to further advance Florida agriculture. For questions or concerns about your farm or pasture, contact us and one of our team will be in touch.


Photo courtesy of RoRo.