Effect of Climate Change on 'Citrus Fruits'

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Climate change is affecting many aspects of the planet, including the production of citrus fruits. Citrus fruits are a staple food in many countries and are grown for their delicious taste and nutritional benefits. However, the changing climate is making it increasingly difficult for growers to produce high-quality citrus fruits. In this article, we will explore the effects of climate change on citrus fruits and what can be done to mitigate these impacts.

Under the background of global warming, the citrus yield may be affected by climate risk in subtropical regions of China. Soil erosion in citrus orchards caused by increasingly frequent and intense extreme precipitation is the main cause of productivity decline 


Citrus Trees and Climate Change

Citrus, a warm climate fruit tree in the Rutaceae family, Citrus require specific temperature between 10-35o C without freezing nights to produce its yield, however, there are a few varieties could tolerate low temperature as low as 3oC for short time, like Mandarin oranges, and Poncirus trifoliate could tolerate freezing due to it is the only deciduous variety in Citrus, therefore it's the proper rootstocks for citrus cultivation in cold regions, also, fruit quality is very sensitive to temperature.


Effect of Temperature

Citrus producing regions are commercially located in between 40° north and south latitude where the minimum temperature is generally more than-4 ºC. The optimum temperature for citrus growth is 25-30o C with the maximum rate of photosynthesis occurring at 30o C.


Effect of Low Temperature

Freezing temperatures are the most restrictive factor for citrus cultivation, therefore, citrus cultivation must be avoided in any region with winter frosts and low temperatures to (-4o C)

Negative Effects of low temperature on citrus tree:

1. At (-1.7o C) young fruits and flowers have died,

2. Mature fruits are damaged at (-2o C).

3. Most citrus trees are defoliated at (-4.4 to -5.6o C).

4. Main branches are deleterious at (-6.7o C).

Effect of high temperature High-temperature effect on different growth stages of citrus trees, the adverse effect of temperature on citrus fruit occurs when crosses its limits (above 40o C), Under conditions of high day temperature (more than 40o C) with low humidity the vegetative growth of citrus trees reduced to minimum levels or stopped completely. In Mediterranean climate the High temperatures combined with low humidity increase fruit sunburn particularly in outer canopy of trees, also, high day temperature broken pigments such as anthocyanin and carotenoid in pericarps of fruits particularly late varieties like Valencia orange which reduce fruit quality. The effects of high temperature have been noted during both vegetative and reproductive growth stages in various citrus varieties occur as direct injuries or indirect effects through disturbance of metabolic processes as follow:

- Reduced vegetative growth

- Fluctuation flowering time and longevity.

- Decreased total yield through increases fruit drop.

- Reduce fruit quality (affect total sugars/ acidity ratio).

- Disorders (sunburn and regreening in late varieties).

- Metabolic processes (broken pigments like anthocyanin)


Fruit sunburn:

The sunburn is a result of a rising in the fruit surface temperature rather than the extension of the fruit development period. Effect on flowering Under Mediterranean conditions, citrus trees flowering from March as one time yearly, however flower induction, flowering intensity, and duration are correlated with temperature during the flowering period. Warming weather in autumn and winter delaying the budding and flower initiation, consequently delay flowering, reduce flower number, and fruit set. High temperature during flowering stage increased abortion of fruit set in mandarin (Citrus unshiu) due to the negative effect of high temperature on type of inflorescences and growing of different parts of flowers.


Effect on crop yield

Due to climate change and rising day temperature, consequently increased night temperature which negatively affect citrus productivity by decreasing photosynthetic function with reducing dry matter production, also, climate scientist expected increase night temperature at a quicker rate than day temperatures in the next decade due to less radiant heat loss because of increased cloudiness.


Effect on harvesting

Due to climate change the harvesting period of citrus changed, some varieties earlier and another later. Cold night temperature increase anthocyanin and carotenoid in pericarps which accelerate peel coloring, however, warm days in autumn delay peel coloring, so, the harvesting period delayed than optimum time.

Negative effects of climate change on fruit quality:

There are various negative effects of climate change on fruit quality as follow:

 1. Reduce total sugars acidity ratio.

2. Fruit rigidity decreased and increased pulp softening.

3. Spread sunburn particularly in easy peeling varieties like mandarins.

4. Reduce fruit quality.

One of the biggest effects of climate change on citrus fruits is the increase in temperature. Citrus trees require a specific range of temperatures in order to grow and produce fruit. Higher temperatures can cause fruit to mature faster, which can result in smaller fruit size and lower yields. Additionally, high temperatures can also increase the risk of diseases, pests, and other stress factors that can harm the health of the tree and reduce its ability to produce fruit.

Another effect of climate change on citrus fruits is the increased frequency and intensity of natural disasters such as hurricanes, droughts, and floods. These events can cause significant damage to citrus crops, destroying trees and reducing yields. In addition, they can also increase the risk of disease and pests spreading, further reducing the productivity of the crops.

The changing climate is also affecting the distribution of pests and diseases. As temperatures rise, pests and diseases that were once confined to certain regions are now able to spread to new areas. This can have a significant impact on the production of citrus fruits, as the pests and diseases can quickly spread and cause widespread damage.

In order to mitigate or reduce the effects of climate change on citrus fruits, growers need to adopt sustainable practices that help protect the health of their crops. This includes planting more resilient varieties of citrus trees, using effective pest and disease control measures, and improving soil health to support the growth of healthy trees. Growers can also use water management techniques, such as drip irrigation and mulching, to conserve water and reduce the risk of drought.

Another important step in mitigating the effects of climate change on citrus fruits is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This can be done by using renewable energy sources, improving energy efficiency, and reducing the use of fossil fuels.

In conclusion, climate change is having a significant impact on the production of citrus fruits. However, with the right measures in place, growers can protect their crops and continue to produce high-quality citrus fruits for generations to come. By adopting sustainable practices, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and improving resilience, we can ensure a bright future for citrus production in the face of a changing climate.

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