As cold weather approaches, Florida’s citrus growers turn to the Florida Automated Weather Network’s suite of tools. FAWN tools, as they’re know, were the topic of the day at a recent grower’s meeting in Sebring, this past December 15th. FAWN project manager, Rick Lusher spoke to the group about FAWN tools and the weather outlook for the state in the winter season. Read a summary of Lusher’s comments from a article below.

The Chance of a Freeze

Florida’s citrus growers are most wanting to know if The Sunshine State will suffer a winter freeze or not. Unfortunately, FAWN tools are not yet sophisticated enough to predict a freeze (or lack of one) with any sort of reliability. However, he did share the latest forecasts. “The most recent three-month outlook that NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) provides shows above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation,” Lusher said. However, he also added that such forecasts can’t guarantee that a freeze won’t happen.

A Look at FAWN Tools

The winter season is the time most citrus growers utilize FAWN tools, watching for cold weather that could damage precious citrus fruit. “Our prime time … is definitely during the cold season, which is for us the beginning of November probably through the end of March. Most of our website activity … occurs during that time,” Lusher shared in the article.

He also shared information on the FAWN tools available to citrus growers and everyone in agriculture. One of the most commonly used tool is the Cold Protection Toolkit. It’s a FAWN tool that tells growers when to use irrigation to protect their citrus against freezing temperatures and when to stop. Lusher maintained that most growers know about the Cold Protection Toolkit.

However, Lusher also wanted growers to know that they can set up their own weather stations, in addition to the 42 stations already in the state of Florida. “The My Florida Farm Weather program is a Florida Department of Agriculture cost-share program, where they are helping farmers install weather stations on their property,” Lusher said. “FAWN is in charge of collecting and disseminating this data.” Setting up a weather station gives growers hyper-local information, and FAWN tools, such as the Cold Protection Toolkit, will adjust to give local data.

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