Fruitless Trees

pjhageman(9a NE FL)September 8, 2005

I live in Green Cove Springs (northeast) FL and have 10 citrus trees - oranges, grapefruit, lemon, and tangerine. They are all ten-year-old plants. They get good water and I fertilize them three times a year with a citrus special, plus two doses of Ironite (compensating for the sandy soil). In December I prune them back and thin them in the center. They are sprayed as needed - no diseases or pests. HOWEVER, come late January when they should bloom, I get very few, if any blossoms. Does anyone have an idea what I am doing wrong? One exception to all this is the key lime - it blooms and produces profusely, and carries not a lot of leaves.

Phil

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gcmastiffs(z10 Florida)

Stop pruning them. Citrus do not need to be pruned, as a rule, except for dead branches. You are removing the flowering/fruiting parts. They do not behave at all like Apples/Peaches. Mature citrus are very leafy and have a thick canopy, not what you would want in another type fruit tree. But that is correct for citrus!

Are these new trees to you, have you recently moved to this property? If not, how have the citrus been previously? I've gotten fruit from 2 year old trees, and by 5 years old they are heavy, reliable producers.

Lisa

    Bookmark   September 8, 2005 at 6:32PM
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Millet(z5)

Phil, Lisa is certainly correct. When you pruned your trees, you cut out next years crop. It is no wonder your trees were not putting out many blooms. There is very little reason to ever prune a citrus tree. STOP PRUNING.....then your tree will give you fruit. - Millet

    Bookmark   September 8, 2005 at 8:02PM
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drichard12(4)

I came across this

Here is a link that might be useful: Shedding Light On Prunning.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2005 at 10:42PM
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drichard12(4)

I was wondering if anyone read the above Pdf file, and what there personal thoughts are about it. At the end of the paper there are also some references.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2005 at 11:04AM
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pjhageman(9a NE FL)

Hi Everyone,

First of all, thanks for taking your time to advise me on my "fruitless" situation. Glad I found this forum. Told my wife last year that if the trees didnÂt start fruiting I was going to pull them out and shred them.

My pruning mind set came from my bonsai experience. I purchased the trees from a citrus tree farmer, selected particularly for their form and development potential. They were new grafts when purchased and are now very handsome, owing to my training and pruning efforts. I will stop pruning, or should I modify it? In February, the first flush comes, and it is usually very pronounced  about 18" on the grapefruits, and 12" on the others. Then in May comes the second flush, followed in August by the third flush. (When they were young grafts they flushed 5 times a year on a very rich feeding program.) These trees would be monsters if I didnÂt prune. Sounds like IÂm over fertilizing. The question: when to fertilize?

Another issue  leaf miners. The flushes after the first flush are heavily attacked by leaf minors, making the foliage quite unsightly. Is there a way to control them? Will I have blossoms in the damaged leaf nodes?

To conclude, I completely pruned out the second flush this year, but allowed the third flush to remain. It needs some thinning (a point brought out in the pdf article), but I will leave it mostly in place and see what happens in January.

Again, thanks for you attention. Any other advice is welcome.

Phil
\

    Bookmark   September 9, 2005 at 11:57AM
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gcmastiffs(z10 Florida)

Most mature citrus trees *are* monsters-they are supposed to be large trees. I have seen pruned ones in my neighborhood, and without exception, they look unhealthy and produce few fruit.

According to that article, pruning is *not* to be done on trees that are *not* already producing. At that point you can prune to add light. But then you get sunburned fruit. There is a reason for those lush leaves!

Leafminers are a big problem in Florida if you want a pretty tree. They drive me crazy. I scrape new miners off daily, and use FertiLomes Bagworm, Borer and Leafminer spray. They still damage the leaves. Leaves that are too badly mined to stay mostly open, are hand picked, and the tree then replaces them.

If you want fruit next year, please put the pruners away. Hand pulling damaged leaves will not hurt the tree's production, so that can keep you busy(G).

Can you post photos of your pruned trees?

Lisa

    Bookmark   September 11, 2005 at 9:17AM
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batyabeth

REALLY? I can just pull off the affected leaves and keep my eye out for more, without the bugs damaging the (non-existent) fruit? My maybe 10 year old lemon tree - I inherited it with the garden when I moved here 4 years ago-, will not produce fruit. It gets 5-6 little green lemons which fall of, so do the very little bud lemons which never make it to walnut size - and what lemons do make it that far go brown, and split open, then fall. I have never had more than two actual, usavle lemons in the 4 years I have watered and worried over this tree. Any ideas? Batya

    Bookmark   September 11, 2005 at 12:34PM
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drichard12(4)

Dont pull your leaves off, That wont solve the problem

    Bookmark   September 11, 2005 at 1:14PM
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Millet(z5)

If you have a patio tree that you want to LOOK nice setting on your deck, then you can spray, pull leaves or whatever,--Because you care how the tree looks. Otherwise, for a planted tree I agree with Dale, and I would do nothing at all. Batya, it is not leaf minners that is keeping your tree from setting fruit. (1). Do you fertilize the tree a month or so BEFORE the blooming period? (2). Do you keep the tree well watered throughout the blooming and fruit set period? (3). Do not prune your tree, as you would be cutting off next years crop. The causes of a tree's inability to produce fruit, is almost never the fault of the tree, but usually almost always the fault of the tree's care giver. - Millet EPA-S

    Bookmark   September 11, 2005 at 1:44PM
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drichard12(4)

I have a number of FourWind trees in containers I do not wish to have a large tree
One tree I have has grown rather large, If the rest get this big (Oh My)..LOL..Question is..

1) I can controll the size by the container?

2)I can still have lush green leaves, And fruit with it being contained?

3) I do not want a large tree?

4) How large is a container grown tree ( same as question no# 1)

5) I hope I didnt bite off more than I can chew, with having the Citrus trees that I have. All I ever wanted was a small tree that fruits. Like the ones on FourWinds

    Bookmark   September 11, 2005 at 2:38PM
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gcmastiffs(z10 Florida)

Drichard12, pulling off ugly, deformed leaves is effective whan the purpose is keeping a miner-infested tree prettier, and in promoting new growth. It won't help other problems such as non-fruiting. You probably do not have to worry about leafminers at all, since you are not in a warm climate.

Since you bought your trees from Four Winds, they are dwarfs, right? So they are *meant* to be container grown as their website indicates.

Standard sized citrus can get very large, but even they can be container grown for years. I have lots of them in pots. So far, container growing and allowing them to fruit while young has kept them a manageable size.

Why not contact Four Winds for specific questions such as eventual adult size of their dwarf trees? Non of mine are dwarfs, so I can't answer. I've seen photos of citrus that have been container grown for 30 years or more, and they were a very reasonable size to grow indoors.

Lisa

    Bookmark   September 11, 2005 at 5:45PM
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drichard12(4)

Lisa .. I did not mean to offend you or others with my above posting. If it read that way I am very sorry
I meant by picking leaves was not the cure to the problem.I felt that picking infected leaves was only to spread to leaves that was not infected
In repect to you an others there are other means to rid the problem.
We all agree an not agree with an issue. We are hear to learn an teach.. Sorry if you felt I offended you didnt mean it to be that way

    Bookmark   September 11, 2005 at 7:16PM
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pjhageman(9a NE FL)

A few posts back, Lisa asked for pictures - here are four. The Key Lime is about six feet tall, a profuse producer, but notice the sparce leaves - never have figured why. The Valencia, is about 12 feet high. Notice the flush. It has about 20 oranges - the first year we lived at the house I took about 5 drywall buckets off the tree, when it was not much more than a few twigs. Next is the Ruby Red, about 12 feet tall (typical of two other grapefruits), very thick, with last flush in tact. Finally, the Murcott - ONE fruit this year! This tree has a very thick flush. Shouldn't some of it be thinned?

Over to you Lisa, and others.

Key Lime
Valencia
Ruby Red
Murcott Tangerine

    Bookmark   September 11, 2005 at 8:25PM
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Millet(z5)

"Shouldn't some of it be thinned?"...... The answer is no, except for INTERIOR suckers(which there should be none or just one or two). The root area needs to be in balance with the top foliage so stop pruning "thining", let the tree grow and next year you will get your reward in fruit. - Millet

    Bookmark   September 11, 2005 at 10:10PM
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drichard12(4)

Millet ... You just blew me away with Interior suckers

    Bookmark   September 11, 2005 at 11:06PM
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batyabeth

So it's not the bugs that are stopping the lemons from setting. OK, what is it? The lemons split and turn brown and fall, or never get past the pea size and fall, and there are never more than three or four doomed lemons all year. I have never fertilized anything in my garden except for good mulch, the forest duff I have in abundance, and lots of water during our scorching summers. I'm not sure what organic fertilizers I can get cheaply in Israel, but I might be able to find it if I know what I'm looking for. Thanks

    Bookmark   September 12, 2005 at 11:34AM
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Millet(z5)

You NEVER EVER HAVE FERTILIZED your trees, and you wonder why your trees are not rewarding you with much fruit? - Millet EPA-S

    Bookmark   September 12, 2005 at 10:52PM
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batyabeth

No need to get huffy, Millet, it's just that I really can't afford to buy extra stuff and whatever I put on my garden pretty much needs to be free or nearly free. I have never fertilized, so I would appreciate some suggestons, but as far as the lemons that do grow only getting to a certain size and then turning brown and splitting open, is this from the same lack of care or could there be another culprit besides me? I see lots of leaf curl, too. Thanks, Batya

    Bookmark   September 15, 2005 at 9:40AM
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AlexanderEdward

Spread blood and bone over the ground under the trees, cover with at least 10 sheets of news paper and mulch heavily (keep the trunk clear) water well. Such treatment will get rid of the lawn, keep the roots coll and retain the moisture that the tree requires to set fruit. The mulch can be anything organic, I use sugar cane trash that is available after the cane is harvested. This mulch has the added advantage of rotting down to a lovely black friable compost that attracts worms, those lovely little garden friends.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2005 at 6:07PM
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batyabeth

Blood and bone? Like from an animal? Forgive my ignorance, but the only meat in this house (due to certain fanatic vegetarians) is the occasional chicken. I had always heard that putting this stuff in the compost would attract animals and smell bad, are you saying to throw caution to the winds and put the cleaned, dried, possibly crushed chicken bones dug into the ground around the tree, and then cover with paper, etc? WHere in heaven's name do I get blood? I suppose I could check around for some organic supply house for dried blood and bone, otherwise I'll have to try and convince the local butchers or someone to give it to me!!! These are the boondocks, and "alternative" ways of doing things are expensive where you can find them, but we do have a lot of organinc farms in the outlying areas. They will sell, not give, as far as I know. Does the mulch have to be dried/used plant matter, or can it be my millions of leaves that DG insists on raking and throwing away ('cause it's unsightly, of course)? It is SO cool that y'all are out there being sweet and answering......Batya

    Bookmark   September 16, 2005 at 3:21AM
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junequilt(z8 SC)

I believe AE was speaking of blood meal and bone meal, both of which are inexpensive and available in the US. Do you have shops nearby that sell gardening or agricultural supplies? They might carry one or both. I wonder about the blood meal, though. To get blood meal, you first have to have blood available, and if the laws of kashruth are observed, all blood goes into the ground -- isn't that right?

    Bookmark   September 16, 2005 at 7:43PM
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Millet(z5)

You certainly can use blood meal and bone meal if your wish. It is an organic method. However, most all people just use standard fertilizers. I believe your tree is planted in the soil out side. Just purchase a fetilizer such as 6-6-6 or 8-8-8 or even the common 20-10-5 or something simular and spread it under the tree out to the drip line and then set the hose to water the fertilizer into the ground. Fertilizer is not expensive. If you don't fertilize, your tree, your tree will not give you much fruit. It is up to you. You should fertilize at LEAST once in the spring, AND once in the summer. I have been to Israel and know if a tree in Israel is given the care it requires, it will reward you with more fruit than you can eat. - Millet

    Bookmark   September 16, 2005 at 10:11PM
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batyabeth

Ok, I get the picture. Fertilize in the early spring, which here is March, then again in the middle of next summer with extra watering during the hottest months. Mulch with leaves and newspapers after fertilizing. Pull any seeable bugs and keep a sharp eye out for more. Common, probably not too expensive fertilizer can be gotten, even organinc, without too much trouble. Do this for a whole year, and next lemon season I will have more lemons than I can handle, right? I knew the internet was good for something, now y'all have answered most of my questions and I'm grateful......Batya

    Bookmark   September 17, 2005 at 4:47AM
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gatormomx2(9a)

I get more bang for the buck by fertilizing with the same amount of fertilizer but spreading it out over four times a year instead of twice a year . 4 light feedings instead of 2 heavier feedings . The next feeding is due the first week of October .
Skip the mulch . Citrus does not need it . ( mulch is a controversial topic ) . In Florida , the trees are planted with bare sand or weed - free from the drip line in towards the trunk .
Even my Persian Lime that I thought was not producing fruit , has set fruit after all . I just needed to be patient !

    Bookmark   September 17, 2005 at 2:14PM
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joereal(Ca z9/SS z14)

I stop fertilizing in August 1 in our zone, otherwise, there will be vigorous new growth during the fall season and that new growth will just be damaged by frosts, and then failure to fully bloom come spring growth flush. I resume my fertilizer application by applying a bulk dosage in late February to mid-March when we still get a lot of rain. In between, I fertilize weekly a month after the first bulk dosage, that would be in mid-April and goes on until end of July.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2005 at 2:38PM
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Millet(z5)

atormomx2, is certainly correct, 4 reduced applications would give you more for your money. You will actually be using the same amount of fertilizer whether you apply 2, 3 or 4 applications. If you wish to fertilize four times (I agree, best proceedure) than just apply 1/4 the amount over 4 applications. - Millet

    Bookmark   September 20, 2005 at 11:33PM
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joereal(Ca z9/SS z14)

Sometimes it depends on how you value your resource, time vs cost of materials and combo. If you apply 4 times, you spend 4 times the labor, and labor is several more times the cost of the fertilizer. But I treat my labor as healthy exercise. Rather than paying for the gym, I exercise in my yard. Sometimes with so many things to do, some activities get sacrificed. That is why I plan to put individual bags around some of my fruits like the apples. Even though it is laborious, I only have to do it once compared with the almost daily spraying against insects and exposure to chemicals during spraying, I'd rather bag SOME of them than lose all of them or save MOST of them but get exposed to chems and cost of chems. So one has to reckon which will work best for you.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2005 at 1:41AM
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tamstrees(7)

On leafminer... the only thing that works that I'll use is Organicide from Home Depot. Considering the concentrate it's affordable. When new flush is appearing I spray weekly. I keep the dose low so I don't deposit too much oil which can hurt the tree. You can use cheap Hort Oil, for that matter.
Still, sometimes I buy trees that are already damaged with leafminer but it's dead. I might pull some leafs off but not a lot.
As for pruning... I only prune trees tops when you get one or two that are just too tall.
The whole pruning thing is still all a mystery to me.
Drichard12 the pdf is fine, the article informative but complicated. Too wordy, IMO.
I would love to find a few simple explainations to pass on to novices in caring for their citrus.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2005 at 9:34AM
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drichard12(4)

Tams If you find something I hope you pass it along, I'll do the same..

I have one tree thats been flashing for about three months, I did light punning on the early ones. The flush Im getting now Im letting it go, its about 8" (Growth) It is in a container.

For me it's a little hard, Never seen a live Citrus other then the one's I have in containers an the Pictures I've seen..Dale

    Bookmark   September 21, 2005 at 10:33PM
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