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Citrus Trees

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PLANTlNG: Citrus can be planted any time of the year, however spring time is the best because it allows a full season for the tree to become established before cold weather.

SOIL: Dig a hole twice as deep as the root ball -back fill with half of existing soil and half Planting Mix, (thoroughly mixed}.

LOCATION: A lawn is NOT a good place for a citrus tree, because grass generally needs more (frequent} water and fertilizer than is good for the tree.

WATERING: Citrus trees are sensitive to TOO MUCH or TOO LITTLE water. They will not tolerate a w soggy soil. For established trees, water deeply and infrequently, as opposed to frequently and shallowly. A general guideline would be to water about every two weeks to a depth of six feet. A trickling hose left on for 24 hours is an ideal way to water.

Newly planted trees need water more frequently and should not be allowed to dry out for the first 2 to 3 months. Citrus trees planted in pots need water more often because of the restricted root space. The smaller the container, the more often you will need water. Make sure to apply water long enough so that it drains out the bottom of the container.

FERTILIZING: Fertilize with Bandini Citrus Food. Follow the label directions for your particular variety of citrus. 3 -4 applications per year, applied at 90 day intervals is recommended. Citrus trees in containers will need to be fertilized more often, because the frequent waterings they require will quickly flush nutrients out of the soil.

 *Iron Chlorosis: yellowing leaves with veins remaining dark green *Zinc Deficiency: yellowish blotch or mottle between leaf veins

These elements may be supplied using a foliar spray or by soil applications.

PRUNING: Citrus trees need little pruning. Prune only to remove dead, diseased, broken or sucker branches on mature trees.

When trees have excessively dense foliage, some pruning is necessary to admit light into fruiting areas. If alternate fruit bearing (fruit every other year) is a problem, thin fruit in a heavy year.

Keep in mind that the amount of foliage on the tree is directly related to the amount of fruit the tree will produce.

Lemon trees tend to grow more upright and a moderate annual heading back (reducing height of tree) is sometimes suggested. This will reduce the crop somewhat but will result in a more attractive, bushier tree.

FROST DAMAGE: Symptoms of minor frost damage are yellow, droopy or wilted leaves. Frozen leaves may not change color but shrivel and drop before they die or dry on the twig and remain on the tree for weeks. Young shoots may be blackened. WAIT until new growth clearly defines the damaged areas w before pruning (this may mean months}. Prune off damaged twigs or small limbs as soon as all danger of frost is past.

SUNBURN: Citrus bark is easily damaged by the sun. Young trees are most susceptible. Paint exposed bark with white wash or white indoor latex paint.

RIPENESS & STORAGE OF FRUIT: The only sure way to determine ripeness is to taste the fruit. Fruit color is not an adequate indicator of ripeness. Once a fruit is mature, most varieties can be kept on the tree for several weeks and picked as needed. The exception is the mandarin orange.

Citrus trees appreciate frequent "showers". Spraying the trees down will keep the humidity high, and leaves clean, which helps discourage pests.

Many pests are controlled naturally by various beneficial insects that feed on the damaging ones. Frequent use of pesticides will destroy the beneficial insects as well as the unwanted, damaging ones. Spray only in severe cases.

CITRUS RED MITES: Leaves become speckled, silvery, then turn brown. Frequent washing and high humidity discourages mites. If heavily infected, use cygon mixed with Ortho Volk Oil.

CITRUS THRIPS: Young thrips, or nymphs begin to appear around March. Symptoms are distortion of new growth and leaves and scarring of fruit. A definite sign is a ring around the fruit at the blossom end. Spray with Diazinon.

Eggs live through the winter on stems and leaves. If thrips appear every year, spray immediately when flowers drop.

APHIDS: Aphids are sucking insects which typically attack new growth, causing leaf curling and stunting. Aphids may transmit virus diseases. Ants feed on the aphid secretion called honeydew. Spray with insecticidal soap. If ants are also present, spray with Diazinon instead.

MEALYBUGS :Like aphids, these small, sucking insects secrete honeydew that attracts ants. Heavy infestations may resemble snow or cotton. Mealybugs cluster on twigs or the undersides of leaves. Ladybugs are natural enemies of mealybugs. Treat with Malathion mixed with Ortho Volk Oil.

SCALE: These sucking insects may be red, black, brown-white, purple or yellow in color. The insect itself exists under a waxy protective dome-like shell. Spray AFTER bloom and before scale becomes established on fruit. Use Malathion, combined with Ortho Volk Oil. Do not use oil if the temperatures are hot.

EUROPEAN BROWN SNAILS: Symptoms include irregular holes in leaves and pits or scars on fruit. Snails sometimes completely cover the trunk with their shells. Hand-picking is a very effective control, for just a few trees. Or, use snail bait such as "That's It".

FRUIT DROP: Large amounts of young fruit drop from the trees. Trees appear healthy otherwise. Some fruit normally drops every year as a natural thinning process. If excessive amounts of fruit seem to be dropping, the tree is being watered too little or too often.

LEAF DROP: Citrus trees are evergreen but will shed some leaves throughout the year. Lack of water, nitrogen, insects and frost injury may cause leaves to drop.

FRUIT SPLITTING: Changes in weather are the usual cause of splitting fruit. High humidity after a dry weather condition may trigger this or if a mature tree is allowed to dry out for weeks, to the point of wilting and then receives deep watering. Normally only a few fruit on the trees are affected. 

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