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UF/IFAS Citrus Research and Education Center

UF/IFAS Citrus Research and Education Center

CREC Extension - Living and Artificial Windbreaks for Citrus


What is a windbreak?

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) – Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) definition is “Windbreaks or shelterbelts are plantings of single or multiple rows of trees and shrubs that are established for environmental purposes.” (See USDA-NRCS Conservation Practice Job Sheet 380
(www.ma.nrcs.usda.gov/news/publications/Windbreak-Shelterbelt.pdf).

For this website, a distinction is made as follows:

  • A natural windbreak is an area of native vegetation perhaps left undisturbed after agricultural development, or an area recolonized by native plants that provides protection from the prevailing winds and storms.
  • A living windbreak describes trees and shrubs intentionally selected and planted to provide wind protection.
  • A shelterbelt is another form of a living windbreak that consists of multiple rows of plants. It would normally have more rows giving it a greater depth or thickness than a living windbreak and it may have a more conservation-oriented purpose.
  • Conservation buffers “are small areas or strips of land in permanent vegetation, designed to intercept pollutants and manage other environmental concerns.” http://www.nrcs.usda ”
  • An artificial windbreak would be one constructed primarily of synthetic materials.

Living windbreaks have a limited history in Florida citriculture, but they have a longstanding history of successful use throughout the world in a variety of crops including citrus. Windbreaks have a new importance in Florida because of the presence of canker disease which is substantially spread by wind-blown rain. Research and field experience have shown that if windspeeds can be reduced below about 20 mph, spread of the disease is greatly reduced if not stopped as observed in countries such as Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay where canker exists. Furthermore, windbreaks also offer the advantage of reducing fruit blemishing from wind scar, an important consideration when fruit are grown for the fresh market.

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