Citrus Troubles

agentdanceJuly 7, 2014

Can anyone help me? I planted 10 dwarf citrus trees on my property about 6 months ago ranging from grapefruits and Myer Lemons to Key Limes and Valencia, just a nice mix. All the trees are on drip irrigation and 4 of the trees are doing pretty well, but the rest are not doing very well. 1 tree has lost all of its leaves completely, 4 of the trees are slowly losing leaves with no new growth and 1 of them has new growth on the bottom, but is losing leaves on top. What is the correct watering for outdoor dwarf citrus? I have had my trees on all sorts of different types of watering cycles and only 4 of them have responded to the last one. Originally a nursery stated that I was to water for 10 minutes on drip once a week and keep the moister measured at 5 or 6. All the trees seemed to stop growing and began to lose leaves. Another nursery stated that they need to be swamped once a week on drip with standing pools of water. The trees stopped losing leaves, but did not grow any further. A final nursery stated that I had to swamp them with water on drip for 45 minutes to an hour everyday with fertilizer once a month. 4 of the trees now have new growth and the other trees are either losing leaves still or just in a state of arrested development. Do the trees need to just get over the shock of not being watered enough and given time? Am I on the correct watering schedule finally or is it too much? The soil varies from decomposed granite to clay to stone with a warm / dry Mediterranean climate where temperatures can get into the 90�s or even 100�s, but never freezes much. Any advice is much appreciated.

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johnmerr(11)

Where do you live? What is the fertilizer you are applying? Where did you buy the trees? Do you know what rootstock you have? What is the pH of your soil and your water?

So MUCH information we need to give you any kind of an educated guess.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2014 at 9:37PM
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agentdance

Sorry about that. I live in the Temecula area of California. I first applied a worm casting and then applied Scotts Citrus fertilizer very, very conservatively. I purchased the trees from a local nursery and all of their trees seem to be growing great (but not mine). I'm not sure about the pH of the soil or water, but I can check.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 1:53PM
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johnmerr(11)

Temecula soils tend to be lacking in nutrients and of relatively high pH. If your soil pH is over 7.5 your citrus will not absorb some minerals, especially iron; so you will have to give them chelated iron; the pH of the soil can also be lowered by adding soil sulfur. If your water pH is too high you can add a little vinegar or phosphoric acid. Scotts is a pretty good fertilizer; so it could be that you are simply not putting enough, especially for your Meyer which is a heavy feeder. Combine that with inadequate watering in your climate and soil; and you will get what you have. More food and water, and some time should greatly improve your success rate.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 3:02PM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA

More fertilizer, don't worry about chelated micros, your pH is probably not high enough to make a difference, unless, after appropriate fertilizing, your citrus do not green up. Otherwise, commercial citrus growers would never have managed in your area and Riverside, which is the original California "citrus belt". I am not sure why you are applying fertilizer "very, very conservatively". I would apply per recommendations, and about 50% more than the recommended application amount for the Meyer lemon. I would check your soil moisture and see if your watering down 18" to 24". Depending on how hot it has been getting for you (pretty hot this last week), you may need to water more than once a week. You want to water long enough so that your water is getting down 18 to 24". I can't tell you how long that might be, since I don't know what kind of soil you're on (DG or clay), and what the GPH rate on your drip system is, but you need to check to see how deeply your watering is going, and adjust your timing to make sure the soil stays moist (not wet) down to at least 18". Too much water can be as much an issue as too little. I would also consider applying phosphorus acid as well, since we have such a time with phytophthora in our soils out here, which can cause symptoms exactly as your photo is demonstrating. It happens if you over water, especially during later winter/early spring.

Patty S.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 4:03PM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

Running drip irrigation for 10 minutes provides teaspoon or so of water. Try to survive on that!

(10 minutes not near enough even if via sprinkler.)

More like several hours is needed once a week. Maybe more

Also you didn't mention how many drippers per tree, nor the output of each. Minimum 3 per root ball early on and expand the system with each year.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 5:51PM
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johnmerr(11)

Patty,

FYI the citrus growers in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas have soils near 8 pH and water sometimes higher; they survive, but at a higher cost and every one of them has to apply chelated iron.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 7:09PM
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