Thursday, 17 January 2002: 11:14 AM
Integration of Weather and Climate Information into a Decision Making System for Citrus [DISC] through FAWN
Citrus producers declare the voluminous nature of information they must recall and evaluate in making production, harvesting and marketing decisions is making the process not only burdensome but prone to error. A key component of the voluminous flow is weather information. The question is if details of the process, if not much of the quantitative processing, can be delegated to a computer or network of computers. The Frost Warning Service of Florida ceased in 1996 after a 60-year period of service. The 1997 Frost in South Florida led to the development of the Florida Automated Weather Network (FAWN, http://fawn.ifas.ufl.edu/). A program called Decision Information System for Citrus (DISC, http://www.ultimatecitrus.com/disc/), was initiated in 1994. It requires weather and climate inputs, some of which are supplied by FAWN. In 2000, a consortium of three Universities working with NOAA funding installed a Climate Prediction Section within FAWN. Viewing relationships in this FAWN Section led to recognition that major Florida freezes have been associated with neutral or near neutral phases (within 0.5 to 0.7 degrees C of the mean sea surface temperature) of ENSO (El Niņo/Southern Oscillation). The odds of a major freeze occurring in Florida increase from about 30% to over 50% during a neutral or near neutral ENSO winter. Conversely, the probability of a major freeze during either a strong El Niņo or a La Niņa winter is nearly zero. When there is a possibility of intense rainfall following the application of pesticides or nutrients (especially nitrogenous), the application could be reduced. Rainfall eroding the protective coating of copper residue on fruit and leaves has been estimated and a tool developed that aids the planner in deciding when an additional spray may be advisable. Exposing work crews to high winds and lightning is likely to be decreased with appropriate display of severe storm warnings during the decision making process. These and other ways in which weather and climate information impact horticultural decisions will be illustrated in a manner that will facilitate the exchange of ideas on how weather information and decision making in horticultural production, harvesting and marketing may benefit from a more effective and efficient interface.