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High summer temperatures take a toll on citrus trees

Measurement of plant body temperatures has become common for many field crops, not to screen for infectious diseases, but to assess seasonal heat impacts on plants. Citrus growers can improve growth and yield by managing canopy temperature. It may surprise you to learn that citrus trees often behave as megatherms, which means their leaf temperature often rises well above air temperature during summer days. Even citrus fruits can heat up, leading to fruit sunburn.

Last year, the highest summer temperature recorded in Central Florida was 99 degrees. Previous researchers found that temperatures higher than 86 progressively harm citrus photosynthetic performance. This condition is probably common in Florida, given that it consistently experiences much higher summer temperatures. Due to megathermy behavior, citrus trees often experience much higher temperatures in their leaves than in the air.

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