!Grapefruit plant problems! [PIC]

imalviJuly 22, 2009

Hey Guys!

Well im new to the forums and have got an issue on my hands. I have a grapefruit plant planted on the back side of the back yard of my north facing home in Gilbert, AZ. Purchased from Lowes, I planted it at the end of march of this year.

Since then, it has gotten worse and worse. The leaves started yellowing at first. I tried fertilizing it with a slow-release citrus fertilizer last month and I water it by flooding the basin about twice a week. I dug a hole to check soil moisture levels and it seemed pretty moist. I have even made a barrier around the base to prevent mulch from touching the bark. Any advice/hope is greatly appreciated!!




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What you see is more common than not for a young tree. Next year it will get better. I would not fertilize again until next spring

    Bookmark   July 23, 2009 at 11:11AM
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Citrus like to be watered deeply, but infrequently, with the water soaking down to three feet. Soils that remain too moist can interfere with the absorption of nutrients, especially iron. This is because roots need oxygen in order to process the nutrients. Too much water essentially pushes the oxygen out of the soil. Lack of iron can cause yellowing leaves, with the midrib and veins remaining green in mild cases and the entire leaf turning yellow in more extreme cases. Iron deficiency occurs on the younger leaves.

Lack of nitrogen can also cause yellowing leaves. The older leaves are affected first.

If the soil is still moist when you check it, wait an additional day or two (or longer) before watering again. You may also want to add a layer of composted mulch in the basin of the tree. Take care not to pile it up against the trunk. The mulch will slow evaporation and keep the soil a bit cooler which will allow you to wait even longer in-between irrigations.

Your slow release fertilizer is great. Don't add any more until you see signs of improvement. You could use 'chelated' iron, which is water soluble so plant roots can absorb it.

I think by applying mulch and watering less frequently your tree will be fine. Using chelated iron is optional. I've included a link to information from the University of Arizona on iron deficiency. More publications on citrus including watering, fertilizing and more are available at http://ag.arizona.edu/maricopa/garden/html/pubs/pubs.htm

I hope this helps.

Here is a link that might be useful: Iron Deficiency

    Bookmark   July 23, 2009 at 11:46AM
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Thanks a lot both of you. I will mulch it now, and fertilize this spring. Also, its under full sun.

Thanks for the links! Very informative.

According to the irrigation chart I should water about every 3-5 days to a depth of about 3 feet. Does that sound about right?

    Bookmark   July 23, 2009 at 9:34PM
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mister_gin(z9 AZ)

Hopefully your tree will bounce back. Mine looked exactly like yours, same size, yellow burnt leaves and all, before a storm took it out earlier this week. I watered mine once a week and had a good 4" layer of wood mulch around it. I was beginning to wonder if the ground was staying too wet. I'll never know now. I planted mine earlier in the year as well. I believe mine was from HD though.

I really want a Grapefruit tree, so I'll have to try planting a new one.

Good luck with yours.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2009 at 12:23AM
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I think filling the basin once every 5 days is OK, especially if you put mulch on top of the soil. The heavy clay soils in Gilbert (where I live too) hold a lot of water. Just continue to check the soil moisture as you've been doing and your tree should be fine. ;-)

    Bookmark   July 24, 2009 at 11:58AM
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softmentor(z9/sunset13 CA desert)

One big problem with newly planted trees is that the roots are still only in the little ball that was once in the nursery pot. Although your watering pattern is good for an established tree, remember, that tree was getting water once a day while in that pot. So, it really can't go 3 or 4 days. Once it gets roots out into the native soil, that would be fine, but that takes about 3 months or more. Of course it's now been a while and it's probably working underground to try to get roots out there, but I would still give in SMALL waterings, like enough for the size pot it came in, every day. Be sure that is a SMALL amount of water so you don't wind up going to the other extreme and getting root rot. Keep doing your deep soaks twice a week so the surrounding soil will have water as the roots start reaching out into the soil.
When I start new citrus trees, I give them a short run from my drip every, day early before the heat of the day hits the drip lines, and I have good success.
One more thing, I recomend that you paint the trunk with white paint or use a white paper wrap to protect the trunk from the sun until the tree is big enough to shade it's self.
good luck

    Bookmark   July 25, 2009 at 6:29PM
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Good point on protecting the trunk softmentor. You don't need to necessarily use white paint. Any color latex paint will work - just dilute 1:1 with water. You can even color match the trunk if you like.

This winter you will need to protect the tree from freezing temperatures. Here's a link to tips on preventing frost damage.

(certified arborist)

Here is a link that might be useful: Cold Protection

    Bookmark   July 28, 2009 at 11:28AM
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