By Clint Thompson
Florida’s hot and dry weather this winter and spring has impacted its tropical fruits, according to Jonathan Crane, University of Florida tropical fruit crop specialist. From lychees to avocados and mangos, none were immune to high temperatures over the past few months.
Lychee requires exposure to cooler temperatures. If they don’t get much of that, they don’t bloom very well.
“The fact that we’ve had very warm winter; November, December and January, this has affected the natural bloom for lychee. They don’t flower much when that happens, when it’s too warm for too long. The fruit set on that is down, not everywhere, but I’m talking about in South Dade, mostly,” Crane said. “North of us, some of the other counties, Martin, Palm Beach and others, they get more cool weather. So, they’re probably okay, I’m not sure. Certainly, in Dade County, it’s been too warm of a winter to have good fruit set for lychee.”
Avocados and Mangos
As for mangos and avocados, they require a period when they’re not growing or are just dormant.
“For some of our avocados, the bloom and fruit set was affected by the very high temperatures; the dry climate, low humidity, lack of rainfall even if you were irrigating. This has affected some of the fruit set on some of the early varieties of avocados,” Crane said. “It is not everywhere and in not all varieties and not in all locations but on some of them. There was some effect on the avocado bloom.
“(For mangos) it looked like we were going to have a good bloom but it’s been sort of spotty. We sort of had two or three smaller blooms. Most of what I see out there didn’t set all that well. Not exactly sure what’s going on with that because usually they set pretty well. This year, the set hasn’t been as good as previous years, and I suspect again it’s because of the warm weather. They do require a period of no growth in order to flower. If we stay warm, then what happens is the flowers are mixed in with leaves and it’s generally not as good.”
Crane also attributes high winds to a low fruit set.
“Another thing that happens is if it’s very hot and dry, especially if it’s windy … just the banging of the flowers into the leaves and stems knocks the flower buds off and knocks the small fruit off,” Crane said.
Crane said lychees will be harvested beginning in June. Avocados and mangos will begin to be harvested at the end of May.