Should I cut down my orange tree?

Diana395(8b- Gulfport, Mississippi)September 26, 2012

Advice and input please... My orange tree is thisclose to getting chopped down and replaced w/a crape myrtle or Teddy Bear magnolia. Though I'm worried about acting too hastily, I'm equally worried about having an uncontrolled whitefly/citrus blackfly infestion throughout my garden. Please chime in!

About two months ago, I noticed these black egg-like things on the bottoms of the leaves (the photo attached is not mine but this is exactly what 20-25% of my leaves look like right now). My extension office diagnosed these as whitefly pupae. I've also observed some tiny, white moth-like things flying around my lawn (day and evening) but not sure these are the dreaded beasts. It just makes me uneasy thinking of the damage that could be happening all around. Anyway, I sprayed the tree with Fertilome's Triple Action fungicide/insecticide two weeks ago but the black specks are still there--no change. A hard spray with the hose doesn't budge 'em either. Basically, I have no idea if the treatment has had any beneficial effect...or even what signs to look for.

Background on the tree: I inherited it with my house--it's an unknown variety planted by my parents and could be over 15 years old. It's an attractive tree that provides good shade for an A/C condenser and small bathroom window. It's probably about 12-14 feet tall, has a nicely shaped habit, and produces lots of blah, thin-skinned fruit that no one eats. The leaves are full and green and to the casual observer it looks healthy enough. But there have been other problems, including sooty mold a few years ago, immature fruit splitting open and rusty colored skin on the fruit. The sooty mold eventually cleared up after many, many months of benign neglect by yours truly. I'd probably go that route again but I've taken more of an interest in gardening and don't want to risk my plantings from this past season.

I know someone who can remove the tree and grind the roots for a very reasonable price. But I'm torn! Is there something I haven't tried? Thanks so much for reading!

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mksmth zone 6b Tulsa Oklahoma(6b)

Well look at it this way. even if you stop the bugs and and bring new vigor to the tree it very well could still have "blah fruit that no one eats" If you are wanting a good fruit tree then get one you know has a good reputation of producing tasty food.

If that isnt your goal then I would by all means try and save it because to me a mature tree is much better than a new stick tied up to stakes.

Can you physically remove and bag up the infected leaves. Maybe if you can get 80 or 90% of them then treating what is left wont be so overwhelming. Might take some time but so would waiting for a treatment to work.


    Bookmark   September 26, 2012 at 4:33PM
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jbclem(z9b Topanga, Ca)

A mature tree is worth a lot...and one way to make something of it would be to have it grafted over to one or more good citrus varieties. That way you would have the use of it's 15 years worth of root and truck growth. It might look a bit barren until the grafted branches grow in, but would be worth it to have a tree that large with good tasting different citrus varieties. Also, you don't have to graft the entire tree at once, just do a section at a time. If this tree is healthy it has so much potential it would be a pity to just cut it down. Google "Joe Real" of "Joe Real multi-grafted" if you want to read about a citrus tree with 81 different varieties grafted on it.

For the whitefly, if that's what it is, you say you really don't know if they are dead or alive. Get a handheld microscope or a good magnifying glass with LED light, and look and see if they are changing in shape or color, or moving. If they are dead they'll eventually dry up and fall off. I don't use pesticides myself, but I'd use Safer's Soap spray on them if they are alive. Grown whiteflies are very obvious, when you shake a branch they will rise up like a live white cloud and flutter around the leaves, then go right back to their home leaf.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2012 at 11:47PM
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