This is the VOA Special English Agriculture Report.
Florida, in the
southeastern United States, is called the Sunshine State. It grows more oranges
than anyplace except Brazil. But Arctic air has damaged some Florida oranges
and other crops in recent days, and killed fish at tropical fish farms.
unusually long period of cold weather has shown how even warm climates can
sometimes freeze over. But protecting plants and trees in the garden may not be
too difficult if you follow a few suggestions.
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cold can be the biggest threat, especially after a warm period. Plants have not
had a chance to harden their defenses. Those that are actively growing or
flowering are at high risk.
Try to choose plants that live best with
cold weather, and planting areas that face west and south. Being near other
growth may also provide warmth.
frost damage takes place at night. Ice crystals form on the leaf surface. They
pull moisture from the leaves and keep plant tissues from getting water.
Cold weather is most likely to damage or kill plants
that do not have enough moisture. So keep the garden watered. Moist soil absorbs
more heat than loose, dry soil covered with mulch or vegetation.
University of Arizona extension experts say covering
plants and small trees with cloth or paper can help prevent frost damage. A
one-hundred watt light bulb designed for outdoor use can also provide warmth.
Some people place Christmas lights on young trees for warmth. The bulbs should
hang below the leaves to let the heat rise into the tree.
Cold is especially dangerous to
citrus trees. Agricultural specialists at the University of California suggest putting
paper or cloth around the trunk and central branches of young citrus trees.
In Florida, as temperatures fell to
record lows, citrus growers sprayed water on their trees to help prevent freeze
Jim Bottcher is a master gardener with the University
of Florida extension. He explains that as the water freezes, it produces heat,
and the ice forms a protective blanket around the tree. If you spray a tree, keep
the water away from nearby power lines. Heavy ice can form and break them.
You can also wrap a tree in palm tree
frond leaves, cornstalks or fiberglass. Adding plastic film works well in rain
and snow. But experts say plastic alone does not help much.
And that's the VOA Special English
Agriculture Report, written by Jerilyn Watson. More gardening and agricultural
advice is at voaspecialenglish.com. I'm Bob Doughty.