Citrus Doctors I need some help..........

dancinglemons(7B VA)October 16, 2010

Hello Citrus Doctors,

I have a 3 year old Nagami Kumquat in a container. First year I got handful of fruit in December/January. I had the usual leaf drop when I took the tree inside in October/November (can not remember exactly). Second year I got about a quart of fruit in December/January. Same leaf drop when tree came inside. This is third year. Tree is loaded with kumquats. Tree went outside in early April 2010 - no blooms at that time - profuse blooms within week or two. Tree is still outside (mid-October 2010) and over the past 8-10 days the tree has dropped 20-30% of leaves. All of the leaves that fell off were light green or greenish yellow. Remaining leaves are beginning to turn lighter green. The fruit are beginning to turn orange. Only 5-6 fruit have fallen off tree. I have tugged on several fruit to determine if they are ready to fall - nope they are firmly attached. We had a drought and high temps this summer but I kept the tree evenly moist (lots of 100 degree days). Over the past two weeks we have had LOTS of rain with day time highs in the 80's and occasionally 90's and nights in the high 40's to 60's. I usually leave tree outside until it starts getting in the 30's at night.

Anyone know why the leaves are falling now?? I have never had leaf drop when my citrus were still outside. Could it be going from moist to really wet and cool??

I am open for all ideas and suggestions. If photos are needed I can post them.



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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Over/under watering comes to mind immediately. Can you eliminate those potential issues?

Have you moved the trees or shaded them within the last 30 days?

Extended periods of cloudy overcast days?

How long since the last repot?

Describe your fertilizer program, please - how often, with what, what strength, when last.


    Bookmark   October 16, 2010 at 11:18AM
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dancinglemons(7B VA)

Apologies for not getting back to this query promptly.

Now for the info:

Move/Shade: The actual location of the containerized tree has not changed but after careful observation DH and I noted that the 'earth moved'. The location was in full sun all summer but now with the fall we note only about 4-5 hours of full sun per day.

Overcast days: If I had to put a percentage I would say maybe 5 - 10% or less.

Weather: We had a very hot summer with lots of days over 100 degrees and very little rain. The lack of rain caused municipal water restrictions - with fines for those caught watering lawns or washing cars. I kept the citrus trees watered mostly by bottom watering. When it began to rain again - it really rained.

Last repot: Late May/Early June 2010 full repot with removal of old potting medium which was Miracle Gro Citrus potting mix 80% and ProMix BX 20%. New medium is 50% MG Citrus and 50% ProMix BX. Tree went from 10 gallon pot to 15 gallon pot. (Actually an 18 gallon rope tub but only has 15 gallons potting medium) Tree did extremely well after repot.

Fertilizer: Espoma Citrus-tone January, June (with repot) and October (not done yet for 2010). I use 3/4 cup (12 tablespoons) in this 15 gallon pot and used 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) when tree was in 10 gallon pot. When tree is inside during winter I use Schultz liquid plant food (10-15-10) once a month with watering.

After all of this I have noticed that the leaves have almost stopped dropping. The fruit is still turning orange/yellow but no fruit drop - even in heavy winds.


    Bookmark   October 19, 2010 at 3:42PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I really don't have a feeling that leaves me with any degree of certainty. Leaves are not wholly adaptable to all light ranges. E.g., if we number light intensity from 1-10, and say leaves emerged conditioned to a light level of 7, they might be able to adapt to a range from 4-10, but not below 4. If they emerged conditioned to a level of 5, they might only be able to adapt to a range from 2-8, with exposures outside that range causing partial defoliation. I'm using these ranges as an illustration. The actual degree of adaptability is probably somewhat narrower than what I described.

The other two immediate suspects would be watering (over or under) and fertilizing. Tight roots would have been a prime suspect, had you not mentioned the repot earlier in the year.

I don't use Citrus Tone, so I don't have a personal 'feel' for how it performs, or whether or not you might be over/under-fertilizing. I can say though, that you could probably forgo the 10-15-10 in favor of something with considerably less P than N.

Most of the time I can offer something more concrete, but at this point, I'm at a loss. ;-( Perhaps someone else has a thought.


    Bookmark   October 19, 2010 at 5:05PM
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