How to Use Water Spray to Reduce Freeze Damage of Fruit Trees

Overview

Freeze damage has the potential to wipe out backyard citrus trees, along with many other types of tree. Though apple, pear and peach trees can survive freezes quite well, citrus trees cannot. One of the most common methods of dealing with freezes and their effect on citrus trees is to use water once temperatures drop below the freezing point. This method is not without its risks, as the weight of the ice accumulation can break branches. Spraying citrus trees is often the only way to protect larger trees.

Step 1

Test the reach of your sprinklers to ensure that every part of every tree receives water. Add new sprinklers, as needed. If possible, run underground lines to protect hoses from freezing.

Step 2

Irrigate the land surrounding the fruit tree several days prior to the expected freeze to moisten the soil and trap in heat.

Step 3

Continuously water the trees throughout freezing temperatures on severe freeze nights. Keep the sprinklers upwind from the tree in case there is a strong wind.

Step 4

Shut off the sprinklers once the temperature reaches 37 degrees F. If the spraying stops during the freezing period, the heat created by the water through the freezing process will be minimally effective.

Tips and Warnings

  • If temperatures stay below freezing for more than eight hours, the ice accumulation from spraying may make this method counterproductive as the trees could receive a lot of branch damage due to the weight issue.

Things You'll Need

  • Sprinklers
  • Citrus trees

References

  • Floridata
  • Florida Extension
  • Arizona Extension

Who Can Help

  • Freeze Protection in Texas Orchards
  • Cold Protection Methods
Keywords: spraying citrus trees, freeze protection, radiational cooling

About this Author

Ken Black is a freelance writer and a staff writer for The Times Republican in Central Iowa. He has written extensively on a variety of topics, including business, politics, family life and travel.