Orange Tree

Mikal1(USDA10/Sunset24)November 11, 2012

Hi Folks,

I have a couple of Orange trees, they're right next to each other, but one is struggling and the other one is fine. Same sun, irrigation, etc., so I'm wondering if anyone has any thoughts...? There are a few pics here:

http://s1133.beta.photobucket.com/user/mikal110/library/

if anyone has a moment and would like to take a look. The tree in the foreground or to the left (depending on the picture) is the one that's struggling. It's lost a lot of leaves and it's fruit is very small compared to it's slightly larger sibling.

Thanks in advance.

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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA(10b Sunset 23)

Well, maybe a little more info, please. Where do you live? How are you watering? How old are the trees, what variety, how frequently are you fertilizing and with what fertilizer, and how long has this been going on? Based on your zone, I'm wondering if you are in California, and perhaps S. California?? Possible to have gopher activity at the roots?

Patty S.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2012 at 10:11PM
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Mikal1(USDA10/Sunset24)

Hi Patty,

Thanks for your reply. Yes, SoCal, I'm on Santa Monica Bay.

No idea how old the trees are or how long ago they were planted, they were there when we bought the place a bit more than 1-year ago. And no idea of the variety, etc. I only know their Orange trees because they have Oranges on them. ;-)

Both of the trees get a little water each morning when the sprinkler system waters that are of the yard. They don't have any dedicated irrigation, it's just from watering the lawn. I've never actually fertilized them, though my wife says that she has maybe once or twice. She's not sure what fertilizer she used, but I'm pretty sure that it wasn't anything specific for Citrus.

The one that's struggling has always been smaller than the other one and it's always had smaller fruit, but as I recall it's always been pretty much as full, always had as many leaves as the other one. The barren branches/thinning leaves has become noticeable over the last several months, but it's really only on one side, the other side (apologies for the pics, not easy to see), the side facing the other tree still seems to be in pretty good shape.

Gophers? Well I HAVE had to do battle with one particularly bold little Gopher. But that was in a different area of the property, and I haven't seen any signs of Gophers in some time. I did plant another plant (a climbing vine) about 6 feet away from the Orange trees not too long ago. No direct connection I'm sure, but I was amazed to find how dense and hard the soil was. Really more like hardened clay. I had to use a pick to loosen it up when digging the hole for the new plant. It makes me wonder if (even) a gopher would want to be boring through that stuff.

Thanks again, apologies for the lack of good information, but I appreciate the input.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 9:32PM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA(10b Sunset 23)

Okay, for citrus here in California - your trees should be on a drip system. Do not allow sprinklers to hit the trunks. This will eventually kill your trees. Fertilize these poor trees every other month with a good quality citrus fertilizer in the appropriate amounts for the size of the tree. I would continue to fertilize every other month until your trees show signs of recovering. You will probably really start noticing around March/April, so be patient. Since you're in Santa Monica, you can fertilize through the winter, since these trees are struggling. Prune out any dead wood up to good wood. Branch die back isn't that unusual for older trees, and sometimes there just isn't an explanation, but your trees look like they're struggling from some degree of neglect. So, let's get them shaped up with their own water source, and some regular fertilizing. It wouldn't hurt to start mulching under your citrus trees with some compost (just keep it about 6" away from the trunk). That will help to amend your hard soil. It may also be that you've got an orange and a mandarin, which may explain why one tree is smaller than the other (different cultivars). Or, simply that one tree is struggling a bit more than the other. And, of course keep you're eyes open for gophers, they do like citrus roots, unfortunately.

Patty S.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 1:08AM
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citrange2

One other thing, can you take a photo of the trunks at ground level? Problems higher up on citrus can often be due to damage or disease at the base.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 4:32AM
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Mikal1(USDA10/Sunset24)

Thanks again folks - added some pics, hopefully they will help.

OK, I can get them onto a drip system. I can even fertilize them properly. I did have a question about pruning - when? What time of the year?

We're actually on the southern end of Santa Monica Bay in Palos Verdes Estates. Probably not at all relevant but there is a slight difference since we're on a steep hillside with cliffs down to the water.

Thanks again.

http://s1133.beta.photobucket.com/user/mikal110/library/

Here is a link that might be useful: Pictures

    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 4:58PM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA(10b Sunset 23)

You can prune out the dead wood anytime. It's dead :-) I know PV Estates well. You're in a very, very mild climate. Also, you must remove all that grass from under the tree, all that way out to the edge of the tree canopy plus a bit. That's where your citrus tree's feeder roots reside, and the grass is robbing your citrus trees of nutrients, especially Nitrogen, since grass is a huge nitrogen user (and so are citrus). The grass roots are more shallow than your citrus roots (which reside in the top 18" of soil), so these trees are getting essentially zero nitrogen. Make a nice well under your tree out just past the canopy edge so that the water will pool around the edge of the well. Make sure your drip system will water the well and the perimeter of the well ring. Apply your fertilizer to that ring. Go to a good agricultural store (NOT Lowe's), and tell them you need to set up a drip emitter system for your two citrus trees. They will get you correctly hooked up. I can't tell quite enough if you're having some Gummiosis at the base of your tree trunk, I need a very close up photo of that base of your trees, but you might be having some, especially if your lawn sprinklers are hitting the trunks. A big no no for citrus.

So, fertilize these poor trees now, and every other month until you see new flush pushing out, and your trees really getting re-established. Once re-established, you can cut back to every 2 to 3 months. Be sure to treat for Citrus Leafminer next July, because you're going to have lots of new tender growth.

Patty S.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 6:04PM
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Doglips(8b/9a)

Generally speaking, if half of your tree is failing above ground, the roots on the same side are most likely failing below ground. Barring any visible signs of attack by disease/virus/pest above ground, I think you should focus on what is happening below ground on that side of the tree. Most trees in general, are fed by roots on the same side of the tree, not all, but most. By default I would assume this true in citrus too. I would focus on the soil/root conditions on that side of the tree. Trunk damage on one side of the tree is something else to mindful of.
Consist watering on both side of a tree is not the same as consistent moisture content on both side of a tree. You need to get in the dirt to be sure.
I can't tell from the pictures, but I would guess that the failing side is furthest away from the other trees.
You have the benefit of being able to contrast the differences in this case, use it to your advantage.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 1:21AM
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Mikal1(USDA10/Sunset24)

Thanks again folks, all great insight!

So it looks like I have a little work to do, but that's fine. I do have 2 final questions:

1) Any recommendations for a fertilizer?

2) Regarding "pruning", when I had asked about it earlier I was really talking about keeping the trees to a manageable size/height. So pruning may or may not be the right word, but if I want to "top" or "trim" these trees is there a best time of the year for me to do so?

Thanks!

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 12:22PM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA(10b Sunset 23)

I like to use GroPower Citrus & Avocado Food because it has a very large amount of humic acid in it, which is very helpful for our rather thin soils here in S. California. Basically, you want a fertilizer that is formulated for citrus (which has a higher Nitrogen requirement, plus has all the micros). Vigoro makes a decent fertilizer for citrus (just be sure you get the formulation that has the micros included), as well as Lilly Miller. And, you can prune your trees after you've picked the fruit off. It's okay to prune in late winter/early spring. Try to do that before the next flower set.

Here is a link on citrus care for us here in California. Good to bookmark for future reference:

http://homeorchard.ucdavis.edu/Fruits_&_Nuts/Citrus/

Patty S.

Here is a link that might be useful: GroPower Fertilizer Info

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 2:48PM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA(10b Sunset 23)

I like to use GroPower Citrus & Avocado Food because it has a very large amount of humic acid in it, which is very helpful for our rather thin soils here in S. California. Basically, you want a fertilizer that is formulated for citrus (which has a higher Nitrogen requirement, plus has all the micros). Vigoro makes a decent fertilizer for citrus (just be sure you get the formulation that has the micros included), as well as Lilly Miller. And, you can prune your trees after you've picked the fruit off. It's okay to prune in late winter/early spring. Try to do that before the next flower set.

Here is a link on citrus care for us here in California. Good to bookmark for future reference:

http://homeorchard.ucdavis.edu/Fruits_&_Nuts/Citrus/

Patty S.

Here is a link that might be useful: GroPower Fertilizer Info

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 4:18PM
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