satsumas fruiting in NC Piedmont

cousinfloydDecember 4, 2013

I probably should have thinned my satsuma harder. I assumed it would abort all or most of its fruit, but I don't think it aborted any. This was my first crop. All 9 sized up really nice, but the little tree probably would have grown more if it hadn't carried so much fruit. Other than some protection on the coldest winter nights it was surprisingly easy to grow, at least so far. I can't remember if it went in the ground in the spring or fall of 2012. I bought the tree from Stan McKenzie/McKenzie Farms along with a citrumelo and citrangequat that haven't fruited yet. I ate one (divided with my wife and children) and it was very good. The other 8 are still on the tree. These photos were taken at different points over the last month or two.

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Another photo

    Bookmark   December 4, 2013 at 9:29PM
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I got my Owari Satsuma from Stan as well. I received it in the spring. I potted mine, and it is in the greenhouse now. It got covered up in flowers. I removed all the small green fruit except for two. Ate the first one a couple of weeks ago and it was delicious. Saving the second one for later.

I was trying to order more from Stan a few weeks ago, Brown's Select and Meiwa Kumquat, but he only had them in three gallon. Hoping he'll have them in one gallon next spring. Best prices on the net for citrus.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2013 at 11:20PM
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wow! So the hard freeze we had a week or so ago didn't harm the fruit? I kept mine in a pot and sheltered it in my greenhouse because it is just a tiny plant. I let it over produce fruit this year and as a result branches have broken and the flavor is weak. I didn't get mine from Stan - lesson learned.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2013 at 9:59AM
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John, I definitely let mine overproduce, too. I definitely don't think the little tree could have even held up those fruits without staking as I did. My tree is still quite small, too, as you can see. The stake also supports a blanket I throw over it on the coldest nights. I don't know how much cold the fruit will take -- I assume the fruit isn't as cold hardy as the tree is supposed to be -- so I've been throwing a blanket over it on the nights when there seems to be a threat of dropping much below 30. The stake also supports the blanket. The buckets are filled with water to buffer longer, colder drops in temperature, but until it gets cold enough for them to start freezing underneath the blanket I don't think they'll really make any difference. I'm just figuring things out as I go, but this is what I've been doing. I haven't figured out what I'll do when the tree outgrows my blanket. Maybe sew four blankets together for an extra large blanket. I suppose building a removable frame with clear plastic would be an option, although I don't mind watching the forecast and covering and removing something on the coldest nights. Until now I hadn't thought about needing to protect the fruit from cold that the tree could take but the fruit couldn't. I was originally thinking it would only need extra production for drops well below 20, which I'd guess is only 5-7 nights in the average year, maybe double or triple that if I count threats of such temperatures that don't come to be. That still seems pretty manageable. The tree's in my front yard, so I don't especially want to have some plastic thing that stays there all winter.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2013 at 11:34AM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

I'm always amazed how much milder Z7 is back east than down here. I can't even fruit figs outdoors here much less citrus.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2013 at 2:09PM
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It looks like it is planted too close to the house. If it gets like my orange trees it will really be big in a few years. Mine are propably 15 years old now and almost as tall as the top of my house. I get so many oranges and tangerines every year I bring bags full of them to work and still can't get rid of all of them.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2013 at 3:10PM
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I am just this fall to get serious about citrus tree's. I have a Page manderin and a kumquat seedling grown from seed.
I just received a shi shan today,it might be frozen,don't know yet.I will get some Flying Dragon rootstock in a couple of days.
I do have a question,when are you guys bringing your tree's in for the winter? Mine have been in the shop for a few weeks now.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2013 at 4:54PM
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I've read on the citrus forum (not the gardenweb one) of growers as far north as zone 5 Massachusetts that don't bring their citrus in at all but rather protect them where they are in-ground for the winter.

I tried keeping a lemon in a pot and bringing it indoors several years ago, but I think my main problem was that the house was too warm for the amount of sun I had in the winter. In hindsight I think I really needed a cooler space to overwinter the lemon, but for something like a satsuma that's supposed to be hardy at least into the high teens it seems easier in my climate to give it some extra protection outdoors rather than deal with temperature and light issues and keeping it healthy in a pot. I think kumquats are almost as hardy as satsumas.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2013 at 5:29PM
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I noticed orange colored fruit and limes seem to put on fruit the first or second year---I'd rather they not. While all the yellow citrus waits a few years.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2013 at 7:05PM
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Freezing rain here in alpine. Good time to have a greenhouse. Went from 38F at 5:00 to 28F at 6:00.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2013 at 7:36PM
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Is that Alpine, TX? Am I correct in thinking that the central part of the country sees more drastic short-term (within 24 hour periods) temperature swings like you described.

Does citrus harden off properly in a greenhouse? Would a satsuma in a greenhouse withstand the same kind of cold that an outdoor tree can? Would the additional warmth during the day not make it harder on the tree to dip down in temperature at night? I'm assuming it does. Just having to keep a satsuma mid-teens or above (although I still need to find out what the threshold is for when there's still fruit on the tree) seems to offer big advantages in a zone 7 like mine. That's part of my logic -- correct me if I've made any false assumptions -- on why I think I'd rather not have my satsuma in a greenhouse.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2013 at 9:37PM
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Sorry if I mislead you. I was wishing I had a greenhouse to combat that change. People here bring in their citrus in our present situation. Some locals have greenhouses with their thermometers set above freezing to keep the citrus going with no ill affects.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2013 at 10:50PM
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gator_rider2(z8 Ga.)

I've read on net that fruit take 24 degrees two night here been down to 28F my 9 fruit been okay I got 2 fruit left on 2 plants was planted in Feb this year fruit small and leaves still on small trees. By way it was 84 here today. Picking time from December to April for best tasting fruit.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2013 at 6:58AM
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Eric, my yard got down into the high teens a couple of weeks ago so I plopped budkets and tubs over anything that didn't look ready for winter.

One easy trick I learned to shelter plants from a nasty winter storm is to drape a large tarp over the entire area. Extend out as far as possible from the tender plants and either weight it down or staple it to the ground with landscape staples. Put something like a small step stool, a ladder or some sturdy stakes around the most precious plants which will make a small tent after you drape the tarp. Heat radiating from the earth will pool up inside that tented area and keep the plants amazingly warm.

You can always prune the tree to keep it a manageable size. It seems to help with blooming and fruiting too.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2013 at 1:08PM
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So... Did this tree survive the long harsh winter?

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 4:02PM
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Yes, it survived fine, but I protected it the same as I had been doing: setting some water buckets on either side of it and covering the little tree together with the buckets with a quilted blanket on the nights when the forecast was low twenties or colder.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2014 at 11:26AM
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