Backyard Prep for Hurricanes
While Hurricane Irma churns near the Leeward Islands, your hurricane preparations should include taking care of your backyard fruit trees. Our Extension Connection columnist, Jeff Wasielewski, offers this advice before the storm:
"First, don't do things at the last second. Make you and your family's health a priority – protect yourself, then your house, then your trees," he says. "Don't fall off a ladder trying to save a branch." While the weather is good, here are some tasks Wasielewski recommends:
• Now is a good time to strip your tree of avocados. Use a pole saw to cut down coconuts if you can reach them, as well as lower palm fronds.
• Get chains for your chainsaw – I like to have multiple chains ready, in addition to oil and gasoline, stored safely. Test your chainsaw to make sure it works. If you store tools in a shed, bring them inside for quick access.
• Never prune trees near powerlines. If powerlines fall after the storm, "stay the hell away."
After the storm, if a small tree blows down, you may be able to save it. Try to keep as much of the canopy intact. Dig out the hole a bit and right the tree. Use three pieces of rebar around the trunk, and secure it with black nylon strapping.
Murray Corman of the Rare Fruit and Vegetable Council of Broward County adds these tips:
• Clean and sharpen tools needed to clean up after the storm
• Pick up hard goods and stow in a safe place
• Lock up dangerous pesticides and fertilizers
• After the storm, wash salt spray from foliage and turf. Leach any saltwater residues from roots.
Here's a link to a detailed article, Preparation for and Recovery from Hurricanes and Windstorms for Tropical Fruit Trees in the South Florida Home Landscape.