In southern Florida, October is the time of transition to the dry season. Exactly when that happens depends on the confluence of several factors. One sign is the weakening of showers and thunderstorms fed by the sea breeze in combination with the heating of the day. In contrast, dry season rainfall is almost always associated with the approach of cold fronts. The other significant sign is the retreat of high dewpoints. Dewpoint is the temperature which is low enough for moisture in the air to condense into liquid water, that is, for dew to form. The higher the dewpoint, the greater is the atmospheric humidity, and the more uncomfortable it is for humans. The rainy season is generally considered over when dewpoints fall below 70 degrees for several days. Although we continue to experience substantial precipitation, because of the falling dewpoint readings, meteorologists declared the rainy season over a couple of weeks ago.
How should you prepare for the fall and winter seasons? We first recommended fertilizer a few weeks ago, but since above-average temperatures are expected for the next 10-12 days, it’s not too late to make your final application of the year. We at Richard Lyons’ Nursery recommend that you use one of the Palm Special fertilizer blends available in the market, since they contain the trace elements which are all-important for augmenting the nutrient-poor soils of our region. There are also fruit tree blends that contain substantial trace elements. In applying fertilizer, don’t leave it in heaps, but instead broadcast it evenly across the root zone of the plant. (The root zone is generally considered to coincide with the width of the crown.) And be sure to water the fertilizer in well after application.
The dry season is a good time to prune many tree species. However, it’s too late to trim back mangos without negatively affecting next year’s crop; that should be done as soon as possible after the last fruit ripens. But avocados can still be pruned, especially the later-maturing cultivars. Finally, for your plants that like a more even distribution of rainfall than our climate affords, this is a good time to apply mulch. A good-quality mulch keeps moisture from evaporating from the effects of lower fall/winter humidity, especially on windy days. It also improves the soil as it breaks down. We caution you, however, not to push mulch up against the trunks or stems of your plants, but rather to leave an area open for air to circulate and discourage insects from chewing on the bark.
Here at the farm, we’ve been preparing for the dry season by planting our usual array of vegetables and fruit. We’ll keep you posted as they start to produce.