Skip to main content

UF/IFAS Citrus Research and Education Center

UF/IFAS Citrus Research and Education Center

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

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.”
  • 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.

  • Artificial Windbreaks

    Artificial Windbreaks

    Florida’s winds and artificial windbreaks for citrus

    L. Gene Albrigo and Mark Maliszewski, University of Florida, Citrus Research & Education Center

    Wind Analysis Instructions on how to determine wind vectors and strengths in your area using the Florida Automated Weather Network (FAWN).


    Wind damage to citrus trees and fruit in California was recognized in the 1930s (Blanchard, 1934). The benefits of windbreaks were reported at about the same time in Florida (Newins, 1937). In Florida, average wind speeds are greatest in the spring (Fig. 1), which coincides with the greatest susceptibility of the fruit to windscar (Albrigo, 1976).

    Some work using artificial windbreaks for citrus in Australia showed that this type of windbreak could be very effective (Freeman, 1976). Under central Florida conditions, citrus hedge-rows planted north-south provided substantial self protection (Albrigo, 1976). At that time it was proposed that in a hedge-rowed grove that outer rows and every 10th or 12th row could be grown taller to protect the tops of inner rows to improve fresh fruit pack-out (Fig. 2). While hedge-rows appeared very effective, a single windbreak in the center of a block of Hamlin orange trees provided only marginal protection (Rose, 1987).


    Fig. 1. Average wind speeds for Lakeland, Florida from 1941 to 1958.


    Fig. 2. Citrus hedgerows as a self windbreak with outer rows taller than inner rows.

    With the advent of hurricanes and spread of canker to an endemic condition, additional benefits from windbreaks are envisioned. Previous studies indicated that wind speed should be reduced below 18 mph to minimize wind driven rain infection with bacterial canker (Serizawa and Inoue, 1975). The conditions associated with these events are quite different than those during the spring fruit windscar period (from petal fall for three months). During those three months, winds are primarily from easterly or westerly directions in Central Florida (Albrigo, 1976). Canker bacterial spread from high winds accompanied by rainfall is most likely to occur in the summer rainy season, particularly during hurricanes. The likely directions of those winds had not been evaluated previously. By using FAWN (Florida Automated Weather Network) data, it was determined that 84 to 97% of winds higher than 25 mph were from easterly or westerly directions for 4 rainy seasons, including the 2004 hurricane season, at three locations representing central, south and western citrus producing areas (Table 1). But the high winds at Ft. Pierce on the East Coast only came from these directions 19% of the time. Over 80 % of the winds above 25 mph occurred in the 2004 hurricane season. In respect to the 4 locations, direction of wind speeds between 15 to 24 mph came more uniformly from easterly or westerly directions, but overall these percentages were lower than for the higher wind speeds (67 to 86% easterly or westerly, Table 1).

    An analysis of wind speeds and directions for another site near Clermont in the central region also indicates that during the rainy season less than half of the higher wind speeds, above 15 mph, come from easterly or westerly directions (Table 2). All this suggests that protection to decrease winds below 18 mph should be first from N-S running windbreaks, but E-W windbreaks will be necessary also, particularly on the East Coast. Rose (1987) concluded that all directions needed protection in a study location west of Clermont.

    Table 1. Number of 15-minute intervals with wind speeds above 25 miles per hour or between 15 and 24 mph during the rainy seasons in 4 citrus producing areas between 1999 and 2005.

    Number of observations 1999-2005
    Wind direction
    Lake Alfred
    Ft. Pierce
    > 25
    Total 15 min events
    % of Easterly-Westerly
    % events in 2004
    15 to 24 mph
    Total 15 min events
    % of Easterly-Westerly
    % events in 2004
  • Artificial Windbreaks (cont.)

    Table 2. Occurrence of high winds in a north central citrus location (Avalon, FL).

    Number of 15-minute observations
    Wind direction
    25 mph and up
    % of Easterly-Westerly
    15-24 mph
    % of Easterly-Westerly

    Natural tree windbreaks can easily be established around the perimeters of grove blocks if sufficient space is available after leaving room for equipment turn-around at the ends of rows and block to block travel along the sides of blocks. Artificial windbreaks may be needed if external space is not available for wide tree windbreak bands or if internal block lengths or widths exceed the 10 or 15 times windbreak height down-wind protection that a windbreak can provide. Artificial windbreaks are an option because of the reduced width of these structures and the possibility to provide over the top artificial windbreaks within the block. Higher topping of internal citrus rows is no longer an ideal option because of canker susceptibility of citrus.

    A typical artificial windbreak is shown in Figure 3. At least one such windbreak was constructed and evaluated in Florida (Rose, 1987). The basic construction of poles, wind restricting netting and strengthening guy-wires is presented by R. Ehsani and L. G. Albrigo in another paper in this short course. The principles of wind reduction for an artificial windbreak work very much the same as for natural windbreaks. A diagram of the effect in reducing wind speeds is presented in Figure 4. When constructing windbreaks in parallel, it is important to recognize that there is a wind reduction in front of as well as behind the windbreak. This effect easily allows for a 15 time response down-wind from the first windbreak in parallel.


    Fig. 3. Artificial windbreaks in Australia (from Freeman, 1976).


    Fig. 4. Wind reduction effect from artificial wind break (from Freeman, 1976).

    To reduce interference of windbreaks with grove operations within grove blocks, a new concept is introduced at this time that calls for an above tree artificial windbreak to allow equipment travel under the windbreak if it is perpendicular to the rows. Alternatively, windbreaks could be placed parallel and over the row top (Fig. 5). Enough space would be left between the established topping height and the lower edge of the netting material to allow equipment to cut or pass under the windbreak. Topping and hedging equipment might require some modification Hedging equipment would need to tilt backward or forward enough to pass under the netting. This concept has not been tested, but appears to be a viable option that would allow long rows to minimize turn-arounds for equipment, especially for mechanical harvesting.


    Fig. 5a


    Fig. 5b. An artificial windbreak concept for over the row-top windbreaks side-view (Fig. 5a) and over-view (Fig 5b).

    While the benefits of windbreaks for management of canker spread have been reported by Gottwald and Timmer from studies in Argentina (1995), comparable studies are not available for spread from hurricane force winds. Salvatore et al. (2005) reported that windbreaks and citrus hedgerows did reduce the amount of leaf loss, but no post hurricane canker development was assessed in that study. A preliminary evaluation of areas within hurricane spread vectors supplied by M. Irey, USDA, Fort Pierce is underway. One such comparison is shown in Figure 6 where more new canker finds occurred in an open area compared to a nearby area behind a windbreak. Several new canker outbreaks, found at this same time, were behind windbreaks suggesting that the windbreaks may have not been sufficient to protect from spread of canker when hurricane force winds are involved. Data from 2004 probably is too limited to make valid comparisons of canker spread to groves with natural windbreaks versus nearby unprotected areas, but so far it appears questionable if windbreaks can prevent canker spread in hurricane conditions. Further, artificial windbreaks may not withstand winds of those forces and appropriate tests are needed.


    Fig. 6. Image of citrus area with new citrus canker finds after 2004 hurricanes. Red points are affected trees and line indicates wind vector through a windbreak area. Clump of red (infected) points in left corner of block on right are over a water area without a windbreak.

    Literature Cited

    Albrigo, L.G. 1976. Influence of prevailing winds and hedging on citrus fruit wind scar. Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc. 89:55-59.

    Blanchard, F. 1934. Depressing effects of wind on growth and yield of citrus trees. Calif. Citrogr. 19:206

    Freeman, B. 1976. Artificial windbreaks and the reduction of windscar of citrus. Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc. 89:52-54.

    Gottwald, T.R. and L.W. Timmer. 1995. the efficacy of windbreaks in reducing the spread of citrus canker caused by Xanthomonas campestris pv. Citri. Trop. Agric. 72(3):194-201.

    Newins, H.S. 1937. Windbreaks for prevention of damage to citrus trees. Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc. 50:43-46.

    Rose, A.J. 1987. Effect of an artificial windbreak on rind blemish and yield of Hamlin orange. Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc. 100:122-126.

    Serizawa, S. and K. Inoue 1975. Studies on citrus canker, III. The influence of wind blowing on infection. Bull. Schizuoka Pref. Citrus Expt. Sta. 11:54-67.

    Salvatore, J.J., M.A. Ritenour, L.G. Albrigo and B. Scully. 2005. The effect of the 2004 hurricanes on citrus flowering potential for the 2005 season. Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc. 118:75-79

  • Windbreak Design and Management

    Windbreak Design and Management

    A proper plan for a windbreak around citrus groves as a management tool for canker protection and reduction of windscar should involve first developing answers to these questions:

    • What are your expectations for a windbreak?
    • What varieties should be protected?
    • What groves, blocks, etc., should be protected?
    • For a living windbreak, what plant species are best?
    • For a living windbreak, what design is best?
    • Is an artificial windbreak the best option or a combination of living and artificial windbreaks?
    • For a living windbreak, how many plants will be required and where can they be purchased?
    • For a living windbreak, what cultural or management requirements will be needed, if any, for rapid and maximum windbreak establishment and function?
    • If I plan sufficiently in advance, can a cost-share be obtained through the NRCS EQIP program?

    To help answer these and other questions, information and recommendations are provided in a Question and Answer format. Note that this information is based on international windbreak experience and limited formal experience in Florida. However, the plant species identified and the accompanying information are from Florida.

    Q. What are your expectations for a windbreak?
    A. Windbreaks will be a major part of a disease management strategy along with resistant varieties and chemicals. Some Florida experience has shown reductions in windscar incidence, a reasonable expectation. Living windbreaks do not generally establish rapidly, but the windbreak species will probably keep pace, if not exceed, the growth of newly planted citrus trees. The exceptions are Eucalyptus, bamboo, and Silk oak which develop quite rapidly. Artificial windbreaks function essentially instantaneous, but are relatively expensive.
    Will living or artificial windbreaks withstand hurricanes and other severe weather events? There is considerable evidence to suggest the answer is YES, but the evidence is not consistent nor is the answer predictable without additional experience.

    Q. What varieties should be protected from diseases and wind damage?
    A. All fruit grown for the fresh market are likely to benefit from reductions in windscar provided by windbreaks. Protecting grapefruit grown for fresh or juice would be particularly important because of its known susceptibility to canker. Likewise, early oranges will benefit, too. It is questionable whether other oranges grown for juice need windbreaks.

    Q. What groves, blocks, or other units should be protected?
    A. There are three simple rules that dictate how to divide your land into windbreak units:

    1. Windbreak height dictates the degree of protection at a ratio of about 1:10, i.e., for every unit of height (H), lateral protection is 10 (H). Thus, a 40-foot tall plant will calm winds about 400 feet into the grove.

    2. Your knowledge of the expected (H) for any living windbreak species growing in the local area is very important.

    3. In general, windbreak units should be about 10 to 20 acres in size for adequate protection based on the observations in other citrus industries. Size is limited by the height expected for the plant species selected, or the practical limits imposed by cost and other engineering factors for artificial windbreaks.

    An appropriate-sized windbreak unit is defined by function, but with adequate consideration for cost, establishment, and maintenance. It makes little sense to plant or erect a windbreak if it is underdesigned.

    A Ridge Example. If your grove is located on a typical Ridge Entisol, like Candler sand, you may notice that nearby mature sand and slash pine trees are probably 30 to 50 feet tall. Using 40 feet for (H), the lateral protection expected would be 400 feet which means the windbreaks rows could be spaced 800 feet apart. A square 10 acres is 660 x 660 feet, thus, planting windbreaks to surround the block should provide more than adequate protection.

    A Flatwoods Example. The aerial photo below is of a typical Indian River grove. As with the Ridge example, local experience with native plants and their mature (H) suggests that 10- or 20-acre windbreak units are practical.


    Q. For a living windbreak, what plant species are best?
    A. Current recommendations are given in Plant Species tables. The plants are divided into three groups:

    FOUNDATION - species that could be planted by themselves in single or multiple rows or be the upper story plant in a multi-species windbreak.
    FOUNDATION PARTNERS – species that are best used as the lower story in combination with one of the Foundation species.
    OTHER – species for which there is virtually no information about their usefulness in a windbreak, but their published characteristics and field observations suggest potential for that purpose.
    In the tables is information regarding expected performance, descriptions of the major attributes and weaknesses, and links to related literature and other details to aid in evaluating the choices.
    Note that just studying the tables may not provide sufficient information to make the best decisions. Because the performance in windbreaks of many of the plant species is not well known, or known at all, additional time spent reading some of the literature provided in this website is recommended.

    Q. For a living windbreak, what design is best?
    A. For any grove whether it is be planted or is already established, you must determine the composition, spacing, and location of the windbreak so that it functions properly, but allows for machinery movement and other grove operations once the size of the protected unit has been decided. Do that before you plant!

    The composition of the windbreak, i.e., the plant(s) selected, their arrangement and spacing, is critical. The composition determines how rapidly a functioning windbreak will be established, the degree of maintenance required, if any, and the degree of wind reduction. Composition also involves deciding whether to plant one species, or a combination of species, in a single row or in multiple rows. For example, windbreaks around Ridge citrus groves have been planted with either a single-row combination of slash pine and red cedar or in a multiple row arrangement.

    The goal in selecting the plants and their spacing is to achieve about 60% density, i.e., allow about 40% of the wind to pass through. There are no established and tested rules to determine how to achieve 60% density. The value of familiarizing yourself with the young and mature characteristics of the species selected by studying any local native stands of the plants, contacting local botanists and foresters or others familiar with plants in uncultured settings cannot be over-emphasized.

    Ridge. On the Ridge, a minimum of 25 feet between the windbreak and the edges (i.e., ends and sides of rows) of the planted area is generally adequate for equipment movement and to allow for canopy development of the windbreak plant without crowding the drive middle or adjacent citrus trees. Plant species: Only Eucalyptus and bamboo are fast growing among the choices currently available. Eucalyptus is suitable for use by itself as a perimeter and/or internal windbreak and can be planted in single or multiple rows. Bamboo is cold hardy, relatively easy to establish, but not readily available and the plants are expensive. Nevertheless, it merits some trial on both the Ridge and in the flatwoods. Consideration should also be given to a single-row combination of Eucalyptus (as the upper story species) and a less vigorous bamboo selection such as Bambusa multiplex as the lower story. With that combination, the spacing between Eucalyptus plants could be increased.

    Flatwoods. In the flatwoods, the same basic considerations apply for windbreak design and location. However, in typical bedded groves, water conveyances such as canals and ditches impose additional restrictions especially in established groves. To plant a windbreak along an internal waterway in an established grove may require removing trees from the ends of rows. Also, only one side of the waterway can likely be planted so that ditch maintenance can continue. Plant species: Eucalyptus is an option as a stand-alone species or, where perimeter space would allow, in multiple rows particularly if the intention was to periodically harvest some of the trees and allow the stumps to coppice. That is one strategy that might generate an income and would at least provide for good windbreak coverage with one species. Also, given the limited space available along internal waterways, Eucalyptus could be an excellent choice because the plant will anchor well along ditch banks and its profile is narrow, thus lateral canopy development would not be a problem. Another option to use Eucalyptus where space is limited would be to plant a single row of trees, but closely spaced (3 to 4 feet apart). The management of this single row would be to eventually cut off every other tree and let it coppice. By using this approach, there would always be a tall upper story of trees and a shorter, lower story of trees that provided good windbreak function at all heights.

    Bamboo and Silk oak (Grevillea robusta) are also stand-alone options. Silk oak is a popular windbreak species in Brazil and to some extent in South Africa.

    Southern slash pine (do not use sand pine) would be suitable for an upper story with red cedar or other species as the lower story. However, slash pine does not perform well in alkaline soils, so avoid using them in Chobee, Floridana, Manatee soil series because they usually have calcareous subsoil and in Bradenton/Parkwood, Hilolo/Winder, Pople, Boca, and Hallandale soil series because they always have calcareous subsoil.

    Q. Can I avoid planting a windbreak by using the outside rows of my grove?
    A. It has been suggested that the perimeter trees and rows of a block be grown on a vigorous rootstock or simply allowed to grow taller than the interior trees. That approach would save money, and anecdotal evidence indicates that the edges of a block are more likely to have canker infections than further into the block. However, such a plan is unlikely to work well because the citrus trees expected to function as windbreak are susceptible to both bacterial disease, canker and greening, and may help spread the diseases. Also, they may not grow tall enough to provide maximum benefit as a windbreak.

    Q. Is an artificial windbreak the best option or a combination of living and artificial windbreaks?
    A. There are some obvious differences between artificial and living windbreaks. Artificial windbreaks are likely to more expensive, but they are functional as soon as they are erected. Their sturdiness in a major storm like a hurricane is unproven.

    Very limited formal experience exists in Florida citrus operations with windbreaks. Most experience is among Indian River growers with fresh fruit operations who used species of Casuarina (Australian pine) and, to some extent, pine and red cedar trees.
    Living windbreaks offer the advantage over artificial windbreaks of being less expensive to establish, but they require a longer time to become functional. However, that difference in time can be minimized by planting the most rapid-growing plant species and possibly beginning with fast-growing temporary windbreaks such as sugarcane to protect newly planted citrus trees.

    There may be circumstances in which using a combination of artificial and living windbreak would make sense. For example, most existing groves offer primarily constraints to retrofit with windbreaks because of grove space limitations. Artificial windbreaks might be the best solution to space issues at least in internal locations with living windbreaks reserved for perimeter locations where there is often more space available.

    Q. For a living windbreak, how many plants will be required and where can they be purchased?
    A. The number of plants needed is determined by the lineal distance, spacing between plants, and the number of rows. For example, in the flatwoods illustration above:

    • 4620 feet is the lineal distance around 20 acres plus the distance across the middle that separates the 20 acres into two 10-acre units.
    • 770 trees are required for that distance if a single-row windbreak is planted with trees 6 feet apart.
    • 1,555 plants for trees planted at 4 feet.

    Q. If I establish windbreaks around my entire grove will the risk of cold damage be increased?
    A. Possibly. We expect that in a windy, advective freeze, trees protected by windbreaks will be less damaged. However, with a radiational freeze, windbreaks will limit mixing of warmer air aloft and could result in greater freeze damage. Therefore, windbreak design should not only provide for equipment access, but also for air drainage.

    Q. I have chemicals applied by aircraft. Will windbreaks be a problem?
    A. Applicators using fixed wing aircraft require a minimum of 1200 horizontal feet to make a safe pass over a grove. Rotary wing applicators can operate in a shorter lateral distance, but may need at least 25 to 30 feet clearance between the edge of the windbreak and the adjacent rows of citrus trees to operate efficiently and safely. Windbreaks planted parallel to the rows with no cross windbreaks can still be effective and allow aerial application. Windbreak height is not viewed as problematic by either type of applicator.

    Q. How can I learn about wind speeds and patterns in my area?
    A. The University of Florida , IFAS, Cooperative Extension operates the Florida Automated Weather Network ( ). Data gathering sites are located throughout the State. The data available from your local FAWN site can be used to conveniently prepare summaries of the wind patterns in your area.

    Q. If I plan sufficiently in advance, can a cost-share be obtained through the NRCS Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP)?
    A. Windbreaks essentially for canker management have been added in Florida to the Federal EQIP. Contact your District Conservationist for details and application information. To score well on your application review, remember that certain minimum specifications apply and points are earned for meeting the NRCS overall objectives. Any proposed cost-share that enhances and protects the environment will have rating advantages.

  • Quick Picks
  • Decision Making

    Decision Making

    Regardless of whether you have already decided to use windbreaks and are searching for additional information or you are about to make your initial decision, here are some considerations to help guide those decisions.

    Among the , all windbreaks share several generally known and well-established advantages. These include:

    • Reduce the spread of canker disease and its severity.
    • Wind scar reduction.
    • Provide wildlife habitat (living windbreaks).
    • Reduce wind/soil erosion (living windbreaks).
    • Environmental cleanup (living windbreaks).
    • Windbreaks also have certain disadvantages such as:
    • They occupy space that may be otherwise used for income.
    • They shading adjacent crops and may reduce productivity.
    • They can compete with crop plants for water and nutrients.
    • They have establishment and possibly maintenance costs.
    • They can complicate or interfere with equipment movement.
    • There may be effects on microclimate and pest populations.

    e may be effects on microclimate and pest populations.

    Canker Management

    The balance or tradeoffs between the advantages and disadvantages should be the foundation of any individual decision.

    A primary reason for using windbreaks is to manage canker disease. Successful management of this disease will depend on the integrated effectiveness of three tools – resistant scion varieties, copper sprays and windbreaks.


    In a field study conducted by Drs. Tim Gottwald and Pete Timmer, the relative importance of the latter two tools was compared.

    An experiment was established in a nursery to evaluate the effect of windbreaks and copper sprays on the spread and severity of citrus canker. Several nursery rows were used for each of the following treatments: 1) windbreak 2) copper sprays 3) windbreaks and copper sprays and 4) untreated control. An 8-ft tall artificial windbreak was constructed around 3 sides of the rows used in the windbreak treatments and those with copper treatments were sprayed monthly with a copper product. In all cases 3 seedlings heavily infected with canker were planted at the beginning of each nursery row. Spread and disease severity were monitored periodically. In the graphs below, disease severity is indicated on the vertical axis and distance of spread with time on the horizontal axes.

    The main conclusions from this study were:

    1) Windbreaks almost completely stopped the spread of canker from the infected plants at the beginning of the row.

    2) Copper sprays did not limit the distance of spread of the disease compared to the control, but did reduce disease severity somewhat.

    3) Copper sprays to the trees within the windbreak provided little additional control


    In addition, Pete Timmer conducted studies in grapefruit groves in Argentina where the windbreak effect of the tree itself was evaluated. In one study, lesions on the leaves and fruit on the wind exposed side of the tree (SW) were counted and compared with lesion numbers on the leeward side (NE) and the lateral quadrants (NW and SE) of trees in a widely spaced grapefruit planting. Lesion counts were as follows:


















    Thus, just from one side of the tree to the other, the wind-exposed side had ten times more canker than the protected side of the tree.
    Lesions on entire trees in different rows in the grove were counted to compare canker incidence among trees in a row exposed to the prevailing winds, a row on the opposite side of the block, and in three internal rows. Counts were as follows:









    Prevailing winds
















    Opposite, exposed



    These results show that external windbreaks reduce canker severity, but the citrus trees themselves can provide some protection for internal rows. Windbreaks help reduce the spread of canker. However, more important, they reduce the amount of infection in infested groves by lowering wind velocity and decreasing the penetration of bacteria into stomates and wounds.

    Here are some key questions related to windbreak decisions.

    For more comprehensive information, see

    Q. Should windbreaks be used for all varieties everywhere?

    A. Windbreaks will be advantageous in most situations, but their value varies depending on the circumstances. Highly susceptible varieties like grapefruit and navel oranges grown for the fresh market will definitely require windbreaks, probably surrounding each 5- to 10-acre block. In many situations, a row of windbreak trees about every 300 ft or so planted parallel with the rows of citrus trees should be sufficient. Such windbreaks may require removal of trees. However, for the present time, we are recommending that growers plant windbreaks wherever they have sufficient space along fence rows, ditches, edges of wetlands to put them in. As we gain more experience with the severity of canker under Florida conditions and the beneficial effects of windbreaks in our situation, we'll have a better idea of the need for windbreaks.

    Q. What is the relationship to field conditions in your neighborhood to deciding whether to use windbreaks?
    A. Obviously extensive flat areas planted uniformly with citrus will call for more windbreak protection. Some groves in wooded or hilly areas already have some protection.

    Q. Are windbreaks appropriate for juice fruit groves or only fresh fruit?
    A. Windbreaks will probably be needed for both, but the susceptibility of the variety is a key factor. Early oranges will probably need at least some windbreak protection even when grown for juice. Valencia oranges are more tolerant and perhaps windbreaks will not be needed.

    Q. Are windbreaks important for newly planted trees and mature trees?
    A. Windbreaks are helpful in both situations. With newly planted trees, sugarcane or other tall grasses provide good temporary protection. It is important to keep canker to a minimum on young trees to allow them to develop rapidly and to prevent buildup of large amounts of inoculum.

  • Plant Species

    What is the ideal plant for a windbreak?


    • Fast growing.
    • Easy to establish.
    • Suitable for different environments, viz., the flatwoods (naturally variable soils mostly of the Spodosol, Alfisol, and Mollisol Orders, and disturbed sites because of ditching and bedding) and the Ridge (Entisols; soils that are naturally well drained and of relatively low fertility).
    • Little to no maintenance.
    • Long-lived.
    • Little or no invasive potential.
    • Wind resistant.
    • Relatively available.
    • Inexpensive.
    • Cold, heat, and salt tolerant.
    • Evergreen.
    • Low to zero alternate host for insect pests.
    • Low to zero host for citrus diseases.
    • Non-host for citrus canker.

    On the basis of these criteria, list of various plants and their characteristics that seem appropriate for consideration as windbreaks for citrus in Florida was compiled. The list is the outcome of a comprehensive effort that began by first talking with many people knowledgeable about native and exotic plants. Among this group of experts were:

    • Conservationists and plant material specialists from the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service,

    • Employees of the Florida Division of Forestry,

    • Faculty members of the University of Florida (UF) School of Forest Resources and Conservation,

    • UF faculty members in ornamental horticulture,

    • Commercial nursery plant producers particularly those raising native plants and bamboo,

    • Individuals from the Florida Natural Areas Inventory (a non-profit organization administered by Florida State University) who were experts on matters related to invasive species,

    • Commercial foresters, and

    • Individual members of the public and private sectors of the Florida sugarcane business.

    The conversations with experts were followed by a rigorous literature search that was helpful in developing information about cultural practices and site adaptation. The most important information was gathered from citrus growers who either had past experience with windbreaks or currently have groves protected by planted windbreaks or nearby natural windbreaks. Talking to growers and searching throughout the State for windbreak examples helped confirm much of the data given in the tables. Nevertheless, despite the combination of excellent quality information obtained from experts, the literature, and the field, please note the following:

    The suggested plants are classified into three groups: FOUNDATION, FOUNDATION PARTNER, and OTHER based primarily on their likely function in a windbreak, or the degree of knowledge about their performance in a windbreak.

    Any living windbreak will need at least one tall plant to be the “ foundation ” or upper story. The tall plants listed in the tables generally form a crown as they mature and, thus, have no or few branches near the base. Therefore, a lower story or “ foundation partner ” plant is needed to fill this gap and provide the targeted porosity. Those plants classified as “ Other ” are virtually untested as windbreak plants.

    Therefore, with the exception of slash pine and red cedar, little is known from actual field experience in Florida about the suitability and function of the suggested plants as windbreaks for citrus groves. But, the listed plants were selected because their published and otherwise known characteristics are reasonable matches with the criteria given above .


  • The International Experience

    The International Experience





    Short Course Proceedings

    “LIVING AND ARTIFICIAL WINDBREAKS FOR CITRUS,” a short course, was held at the University of Florida, IFAS, Citrus Research and Education Center, Lake Alfred on April 19, 2006. The presentations and contact details of each speaker are listed below in the order they were presented.

    ...This short course was spawned by a classic extension-research exchange. During a late afternoon casual conversation one day recently, we were talking about windbreaks for the Florida citrus industry. The synergy of the moment sparked the idea of a short course as an efficient means to communicate in a timely manner a considerable body of information we had already assembled. The information was originally destined for a website, but we asked ourselves “Why wait?” About two hours later we had drafted a program outline and identified the possible speakers. This was soon followed by the formation of a steering committee and a rush to advertise the good news...

    Bill Castle and Ron Muraro

    Steering Committee Members
    Bill Castle, Chair
    Ron Muraro
    Gene Albrigo
    Steve Futch
    Jane Wilson

    Opening Remarks
    Dr. Bill Castle, Professor, UF/IFAS
    Citrus Research and Education Center
    700 Experiment Station Road
    Lake Alfred, FL 33850


    Advantages and Disadvantages of Windbreaks
    Dr. Pete Timmer, Professor, UF/IFAS
    Citrus Research and Education Center
    700 Experiment Station Road
    Lake Alfred, FL 33850


    Windbreaks for Citrus Crops in Argentina
    Héctor Miguel Zubrzycki,
    Coord. Programa Nacional de Desarrollo
    Citrícola SAGPyA-INTA


    Plants for Citrus Windbreaks: A NRCS Perspective
    Mimi Williams, Plant Materials Specialist
    USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service
    2614 NW 43rd Street
    Gainesville, FL 32606-6611


    Forest Trees for Citrus Windbreaks
    Dr. Don Rockwood, Professor, UF/School of Forest Resources
    and Conservation
    P.O. Box 110410
    Gainesville, FL 326110-0410


    Using Sugarcane as a Windbreak
    Les Baucum, Hendry Co. Extension Agent, UF/IFAS
    P.O. Box 68
    LaBelle, FL 33935-0068


    Bamboo as a Windbreak for Citrus
    Paige Boehlke, Operations Manager
    Horizon Palm Farm
    795 12th Avenue SW (Oslo Road)
    Vero Beach, FL 32962


    Ornamental Crops for Shelterbelts
    Dr. Bob Stamps, Professor, UF/IFAS
    Mid-Florida Research and Education Center
    2725 Binion Road
    Apopka, FL 32703-8504


    The Florida Experience
    Dr. Bill Castle


    Florida’s Winds and Artificial Windbreaks for Citrus
    Dr. Gene Albrigo, Professor, University of Florida (UF)/IFAS
    Citrus Research and Education Center
    700 Experiment Station Road
    Lake Alfred, Fl 33850


    Design and Cultural Considerations for Living Windbreaks
    Dr. Bill Castle


    Artificial Windbreaks: An Engineer’s Perspective
    Dr. Reza Ehsani, Asst. Professor, UF/IFAS
    Citrus Research and Education Center
    700 Experiment Station Road
    Lake Alfred, FL 33850


    A Grower’s Perspective
    Bob Edsall, Citrus grower
    556 Camelia Lane
    Vero Beach, FL 32963


    Costs of Natural Windbreaks Associated with Managing
    Citrus Canker in Florida
    Ron Muraro, Professor, UF/IFAS
    Citrus Research and Education Center
    700 Experiment Station Road
    Lake Alfred, FL 33850


    Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP)
    Teresa Stewart, EQIP Coordinator
    USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service
    2614 NW 43rd Street
    Gainesville, FL 32606-6611


    Florida Division of Forestry
    Steve Gilly, Andrews Nursery Manager
    FDACS, Division of Forestry
    P.O. Drawer 849
    Chiefland, FL 32644-0849


    Windbreaks Can Drive Profit?
    Peter Spyke
    Arapaho Citrus Management, Inc.
    13300 Okeechobee Road,
    Ft. Pierce, FL 34945


    Considerations about Competition between Citrus Trees and
    Windbreaks for Light, Water and Nutrients

    Dr. Jim Syvertsen, Professor, UF/IFAS/CREC
    Citrus Research and Education Center
    700 Experiment Station Road
    Lake Alfred, FL 33850


  • Resources



    Research Publications | Casuarina Propagation

    The Research Publications section contains a list of PDFs on windbreaks


  • Research Publications

    Research Publications


    The efficacy of windbreaks in reducing the spread of citrus canker caused by Xanthomonas campestris pv citri. Gottwald, T.R. and Timmer, L.W. 1995. Trop. Agric.(Trinidad) 72(3): 194-201. PDF

    The influence of windbreak species on citrus thrips (Thysanoptera:Thripidae) populations "and their damage to South African citrus orchards. Grout, TG; Richards, GI. 1990. J. Entomol. Society Southern Africa. 53(2):151-157. 

    Orchard microclimate as modified by windbreaks: a preliminary investigation. Holmes, M. and D. Farrell. 1993.
    South Afr. Avocado Growers’ Yrbk (1993) 16:59-64. PDF

    Freeze protection potential of windbreaks. Martsolf, JD; Wiltbank, WJ; Hannah, HE; Fernandez, RT; Bucklin, RA; Datta, A. 1986. Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc. 99:13-18. PDF

    The Australian national windbreak program: overview and summary of results. Helen Cleugh, et al. 2002. Australian J. Experimental Agric. 42:649-664. PDF

    Field measurements of windbreak effects on airflow, turbulent exchanges and microclimate. Helen Cleugh. 2002. Australian J. Experimental Agric. 42:665-677. PDF

    Impact of shelter on crop microclimates: A synthesis of results from wind tunnel and field experiments. Helen Cleugh and D.E. Hughes. Australian J. Experimental Agric. 42:679-701. PDF

  • Casuarina (Australian pine) Status in Florida

    Casuarina (Australian pine) Status in Florida


    Important Note:  There are three species of the non-native Australian pine (Casuarina spp.) in Florida.  Their spread in some areas of the state has resulted in each species being classified by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection as invasive and subject to removal according to the following: "The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) lists all "Casuarina spp." as Class I Prohibited Aquatic Plants, which prohibits them from possession, collection, transportation, cultivation, and importation without a permit from the Department (62C-52.001 FAC).  Casuarina equisetifolia and C. glauca are listed on the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services' (FDACS) Florida Noxious Weed List (5B-57.004 FAC). It is unlawful to introduce, multiply, possess, move, or release Florida Noxious Weeds within the state without first obtaining a permit from the DACS." 

    In 2008, legislation was signed into law permitting restricted propagation of Casuarina cunninghamiana.  The law allows only vegetative propagation of Florida sources of male Casuarina cunninghamiana plants for use as windbreaks in citrus groves in only Martin, St. Lucie and Indian River Counties.   The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Division of Plant Industry, is the rule-making and regulatory authority.  Click here for legislation details.

    Vegetative Propagation

    Casuarina cunninghamiana is a dioecious plant which means that one plant produces female flowers and a separate plant produces male flowers.  Remember, only male plants can be propagated by vegetative methods. 

    If you intend to commercially propagate this plant, it is highly recommend that you review previous studies on rooting cuttings to best understand the various treatments attempted by others.  Also, our efforts at the CREC to root cuttings has met with limited success.  The following are descriptions of various publications with the most practical information, and a summary of propagation attempts and results at the CREC.  For questions and further details, please contact Dr. Bill Castle: 863.956.1151,

    When propagating Casuarina cunninghamiana, note also that the plant normally forms N-fixing nodules with a bacterial species in the genius Frankia.  Whether inoculation is necessary for the plant to grow is an unsettled matter.  Based on a very limited sampling, nodules are not easily found among surface roots for Casuarina trees growing in Florida.  Propagators wishing to attempt inoculation may try growing rooted cuttings in soil collected from under mature trees.

    Propagation Literature 

    Chemical concentrations.  Some concentrations in the literature are reported in milliMolar (mM) units, others are reported in parts per million (ppm).  The relationship between mM and ppm is as follows: look up the molecular weight (MW) of the substance.  A 1 mM solution is the MW (in milligrams) in one liter of water.  Example:  The MW of NAA is 186.21 g.  A 1 mM solution is 186.21 mg in 1 L of water.  One ppm is 1 mg/L, thus, 200 mg  NAA/L = 200 ppm NAA.  Therefore, a 1 mM solution of NAA is 186 ppm.  The MW of IBA is 203.2 g.  A 1mM solution of IBA is 203.2 mg/L.

    Propagation of cuttings by water culture in China

    casuarina propagation

    The procedure used in China is independent of plant gender.  In Florida, only male plants can be used.  The Chinese procedure involves establishing a plantation of young trees that are cut near the soil-line to induce young shoots.  Those shoots are harvested when they are 3 months of age or younger and  3-4 inches long.  About 20 or 30 cuttings are placed in an ordinary opaque plastic 12 oz. cup with about 1 inch of rooting hormone solution (50 -100 ppm NAA or IBA).  The cuttings soak for 24 hours.  [Note: the soaking solution is NOT made by taking a commercial rooting compound and dissolving it in water.  The hormone solution used by the Chinese is made from the pure compound.]   The cuttings are removed and placed in another cup with only tap water.  The cups are placed outdoors in a shady place.  The water is replaced daily.  Rooting apparently occurs within 4- 6 weeks.  The contact person in China is Dr. Zhong Chonglu:

    Micropropagation of Casuarina

    This reference is mostly a review about rooting cuttings and producing plants by tissue culture.

    Mistless Polytunnel (Hydropit)

    Cuttings, 6 inches long, were treated with 1000 to 3000 ppm IBA and rooting increased from 13% to 40%, respectively.  Cuttings from trees of unstated age were placed in polybags with 1:1, soil:sand, and placed in a trench with plastic sheeting on the bottom and a layer of sand.  The trench was covered with “polysheet” and the sand base watered as needed (to maintain high humidity in the pit).

    The Propagation of Casuarina Species from Rooted Stem Cuttings

    This reference reports one of the most comprehensive and successful studies.  Three types of cuttings were used:  hardwood, softwood, juvenile (see report for definitions).  Commercial rooting compounds were used for dipping the cuttings which were then placed in sand.   Some cuttings were rooted in water culture or an aerated hydroponic system.  The best results (60%) were achieved with mature softwood cuttings treated for 3 hrs with 50 ppm IBA.

    A Simple and Efficient Method for Clonal Propagation of Casuarina sumatrana

    As in the preceding study, mature softwood cuttings from side branches of 10-12-year old trees were rooted after a 5-second dip in a broad range of NAA and IBA solutions: 200 – 2000 ppm (1-10mM).  The cuttings were rooted in “plastic troughs” and high humidity was maintained.  The propagation chamber is described.  Rooting percentages ranged from 0 to 70%.  The rooting response with this species was much greater with NAA than IBA.

    Propagation Experience

    Contained in the literature are many helpful hints on Casuarina propagation.  Some of the reports are incomplete in that important information about the type of the cutting, the age of the trees from which they were harvested, and the rooting chamber and propagation conditions are missing. 

    At the CREC, we have attempted to root cuttings using some of the procedures described in the literature, and other techniques.  What follows are what we consider to be important from our experience in combination with what is reported in the literature.

    Type of cutting.  There are three types: a hardwood cutting which literally has a hard stem with brown color and is at least 3 months old; semihardwood which in this case would not be easily distinguished from the first type; and, softwood which is a shoot about 3 months or younger with a relatively soft green stem. 

    casuarina propagation collage

    Fig. 1.  A typical branch (left) of Casuarina showing the tip which is normally suitable for harvesting cuttings, and the lateral branches often noted in the literature as better sources of cuttings.  Illustrated above are cuttings taken from one lateral branch and identified as to type.  The softwood cutting (A) has a green stem that is literally softer to the touch than other places along the branch stem.  The hardwood cutting (C) has a well-rounded stem that is brown and hard to the touch.  The semi-hardwood cutting (B) is intermediate in those characteristics. 

    Such cuttings can be harvested from a mature tree or a juvenile tree, thus, any cuttings from a 1-3-year old tree (one that has not flowered) might be labeled using a combination of terms, i.e., it is possible to harvest a softwood or hardwood cutting from a juvenile or a mature tree.  IMPORTANT POINTS:

    • Softwood and juvenile cuttings may be the best, but our experiments so far do not suggest that one type of cutting is better than another.  For propagators, trials should be conducted with all types; also, having rooted cuttings of male trees growing on-site in containers as source trees may be advantageous.
    • The right type of shoots can be produced on any tree by cutting back small branches of ¼ to ½ inch diameter and waiting for new lateral shoots to appear.  The new shoots can be harvested when they are 3 months old or younger.  In the spring and summer, our experience is that shoots will appear with 2-3 weeks and grow rapidly enough to be the right length for harvesting within 3 months.
    • Most rooting successes reported are based on 4- to 8-inch cuttings harvested from lateral rather than terminal shoots.

    Handling of cuttings.

    • Humidity appears to be very critical.  The cuttings must be kept moist at all stages.  Misting might be acceptable, but in many cases, the use of a propagation chamber in which the humidity is kept high all the time might be better.  
    • Stick the cuttings as quickly as possible and no longer than 24 hours after harvest.  Remove the needles from the bottom 1/3 of the stem.
    • When harvesting, clip off small branches that include the cuttings you will use rather than clipping the cuttings directly.  By following that step, water loss is probably reduced.  Place the branches in bags and keep them moist.
    • We have encountered fungal problems especially in water culture.  As a result, we dip the cuttings for 30 seconds in the field using commercial household bleach diluted 3:1 followed by a rinse in tap water.  Also, in water culture, a fungicide like Banrot® (0.5 oz/gal) is added to the water.
    • The basal end of the cutting is re-cut before hormone treatment usually at a 45° or steeper angle to promote uptake of the hormone.
    • To reduce water loss, we have experimented with a spray-on anti-transpirant, Wilt-Pruf®, applied before the cuttings are placed in the medium.  No clear benefit has been evident so far.
    • The spacing between cuttings in the propagation facility may be important especially to help preclude fungal problems.
    • How do you know if the cuttings are doing well?  Cuttings are a healthy green color when harvested.  If at any point they turn dull green, they will not survive.

    Hormone treatments.  The common hormones are naphthalene acetic acid (NAA) and Indole-3-butyric acid (IBA).  Solutions of the individual compounds are used as dips or in combination.  Various commercial products employ these compounds as well, usually in powder form. 

    • Concentration.  In general, the range used has been from about 50 ppm to 3,000 ppm with limited consistency in results, thus, propagators are encouraged to try various concentrations.
    • Compound and application method.    A summary of reported trials and those we have conducted at the CREC is available here.  Powdered materials are applied by dipping, hormone solutions have been applied by a quick dip (5 seconds) or prolonged soaks that lasted from 30 minutes to 24 hours.  Long soaks (> 30 minutes) with IBA concentrations > 200 -500 ppm turned the base of the cutting stem black and diminished rooting success.

    Response time.  Rooting seems to occur within 6 to 8 weeks.

    How to Root Cuttings of Male Casuarina cunninghamiana Plants in Florida

    To proceed with propagation, please note that you must be in compliance with the following:

        • A permit must be obtained from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Division of Plant Industry.   For an application and guidance, contact your local DPI plant inspection office.
        • Only male plants of Casuarina cunninghamiana are permitted to be propagated by Florida Statue and they can only be used as a windbreak for citrus in Martin, Indian River and St. Lucie Counties by separate permit.
        • Source trees for cuttings are registered with the DPI and are the only legal source of cuttings. 
        • Harvesting cuttings must be witnessed by a DPI Plant Inspector.

    Propagation Protocol

        1. Read the publication “Field Guide to Identify the Common Casuarina (Australian Pine) Species in Florida” available @ document describes Casuarina species and provides valuable background information.
        2. Go the UF/CREC website @ for additional information about propagation and an illustration of the type of cutting that has proven so far to be the easiest to root.
        3. There are currently two approved private sources of mother plants certified for cuttings:
          1. Russakis site, Indrio Road, Fort Pierce
          2. Kenco Manufacturing, Ruskin
        4. To collect cuttings, there are two options:
          1. Take individual 4 to 6-inch main branch tip cuttings or side branch tip cuttings.
          2. Remove a whole branch, transport it to your facility and then remove the types of cuttings described above.
        5. Keeping the cuttings moist is ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL! If they dry, they will die. If the cuttings at any point during propagation turn color from the bright green they are when attached to the tree, to dull green, they are unlikely to survive.
        6. Use a peat-based rooting medium.
        7. Treat the cuttings with a hormone. Various experiments have not revealed a particularly superior compound or combination of compounds, but a commercial product with a Indole-3-butyric acid @ 00.3% concentration is presently recommended.
        8. Insert the cuttings about one inch.
        9. Provide mist in a cycle such as 5 seconds mist every 15 minutes.
        10. Scarification of the stem to be inserted into the rooting medium may be helpful.
        11. The rooted cuttings must be hardened off after rooting.
  • What's New?

    What's new?


    • 15 May 2009: Updated Plant Species table
    • 6 May 2009: Added How to Root Cuttings of Male Casuarina cunninghamiana Plants in Florida to Casuarina propagation section
    • 16 July 2008: Updated Plant Species table
    • 15 July 2008: Added Casuarina Propagation / General to Literature section
    • 9 July 2007: Added charts to IIREC WB Study
    • 26 January 2007: Updated Plant Species list into PDF format
    • 22 January 2007: NRCS-EQIP Cost Share plant list
    • 16 November 2006: Added Case Study IV to Florida Experience.
    • 27 September 2006: Australia added to International Experience.
    • 7 September 2006: Florida's winds and artificial windbreaks for citrus.
    • 6 September 2006: Case Study III, a very different use of Slash pine, was added to Florida Experience.
    • 1 September 2006: The International Experience section added.
  • The Florida Experience

    The Florida Experience

    Living windbreaks that protect various agricultural crops, pastures, homes, and buildings are more common in Florida than may be generally recognized. Also, there are natural windbreaks that serve the same function. Examples of some living windbreaks and the results of a windbreak for citrus research study are available by clicking on the appropriate links below.

  • Florida Grove Case Studies

    Florida Grove Case Studies

    Case studies provide an indepth look into practical applications of various Windbreaks in the Florida area. Here are some examples:

  • Examples of Living Windbreaks

More Information