Help with orange trees please

brugpuppy(9)November 18, 2012

Hi all,

I need help with two orange trees with disfigured leaves.

I am south of Phoenix, and planted a blood orange 10 months ago, and a navel orange a year ago. Both purchased from Lowe's & Home Depot, so they no doubt orginated in California.

Both orange trees have doubled in size and growth seems to be good. However both trees have crinkled, bent and bumpy leaves with pale yellow patches on new leaves on some (not all) new growth. Some branches look very good without any problems. There are also dry browning on the edges of older leaves.

Both are planted in potting soil mixed with some native soil, and I added some gypsum and granulated citrus fertilizer. They are now fertilized with liquid Miracle Grow. Each tree has two 2 gal sprinklers running for 20 minutes at night. They are in full sun, although I did have a shade cloth partially over the blood orange for the summer, so it did not get the late afternoon sun. There is a little burn on some of it's leaves due to getting full sun. There is mulch under the trees to protect them from the heat in summer and to conserve moisture.

Should I be worried about these strange ugly leaves, and will this affect the blossoms and fruit in the spring? I really hope they will bear fruit this coming year. The navel orange did produce two oranges in the spring, but since I am away for most of the summer, my neighbour ate them, thinking they were lemons :)

sorry that I cannot upload pictures, as I do not have the cable for my camera. Hope my description helps.


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Your description matches the damage caused by Citrus Leaf Miner.
There's lots of information about this pest (and what to do about it) both on this forum and across the internet.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2012 at 11:11AM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA(10b Sunset 23)

Well, your trees probably did not come from California, as we in both California and Arizona are in a quarantine right now for the Asian Citrus Psyllid and in some areas of California, Huonglong Bing (HLB or Citrus Greening Disease), and California commercial citrus tree growers cannot ship their trees to another citrus state. So, it is more likely your trees were grown in Arizona. Without photos, it's just a guess on our part :-) If you can upload photos of the leaves, a good, clear close up photo of both the tops and the bottoms of the affected leaves, as well as a photo of the entire tree, that would help us better to help you. Pop your SD card out of your camera, put it in a card reader, and plug that into your computer.

But, based on your description, it sounds like Citrus Leafminer, which is very common, and rather benign. It doesn't affect the tree, except to make the new tender leaves look pretty ugly. You can treat your tree next season with either repetitive sprayings of Spinosad plus Volk Oil (don't spray with Volk Oil if temps are above 85 degrees, or you can damage your leaves in the heat), every 3 weeks, starting before CLM hits your area. For us here in S. California, we start treating for CLM in the beginning of July, and spray every 3 weeks through to about end of October or so. If your trees are outside at that time, be sure to spray in the evening, when the bees go back to the hive, as Spinosad is toxic to bees. Or, you can use one application of Bayer Advanced Citrus & Fruit Tree and apply to the soil about 2 - 3 weeks before CLM hits your area as a systemic. Many commercial growers don't even treat for CLM. It only affects the tender new growth, so young trees can be especially hard hit.

Now, as to your potting mix. You're going to have issues with that potting mix. Native soil is fine in the ground. Doesn't work so well as a container medium. For me, in S. California, where my container citrus stay outside all year 'round, and we have dry weather, I can get away with using a high quality bagged cactus mix. I add about an inch of compost at the very top to add a bit more organic material, then I top with about 1 to 2 inches of bark mulch to retain moisture. I make sure I don't plant my trees too deeply, and that I can see the top of the root flare, and I keep the bark away from the trunk (as much as I can, but it does tend to float towards the trunk if I water. I just push it back away.) This allows for the potting medium to not compress, and become either water logged, or water phobic. The browned edges of the leaves are probably an indicator of not getting enough water. If you are bringing your citrus inside during the winter, you'll probably want to use a less fine mix. If you search for "911 mix" on this forum, you'll find the recipe for an excellent container medium that is very well draining, and provides what citrus need. And, you'll need to fertilize once a month when in a container. I like to use a combination of a good time-release fertilizer that I apply 2 or 3 times a year, Osmocote Plus (it MUST be the "Plus" formulation, as it will give you the best macronutrient NPK ratio plus very importantly, the micronutrients citrus need to stay healthy), as well as a monthly application of DynaGro Foliage Pro. My citrus do very well with this setup.

Here are photos of my citrus in containers. The first photo was a rather rare citrus I rescued out of the ground. It was being infected by Phytophthora, and a goner if I left it in the ground:

This is the same tree about 12-14 months later:

And, here are photos of what Citrus Leafminer (CLM) looks like so you can try to ID your issue:

Patty S.

Here is a link that might be useful: UC IPM: Citrus Leafminer

    Bookmark   November 19, 2012 at 11:48AM
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Thanks for help and advice. The damage is not leaf miners, but on closer inspection I did find bugs. Not sure what they are. Very small, yellowish, they run fast and fly when I touch the leaf. There is a lot of them.

Did manage to look at and save pictures, and I think you can see them at my photobucket page


Here is a link that might be useful: Epidaze photobucket pictures of orange trees

    Bookmark   November 20, 2012 at 5:21PM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA(10b Sunset 23)

Here is a web site where you can try to ID your bugs. I couldn't see anything clearly in your photo, to be able to ID the critter, sorry. It could be aphids, or it could be the Asian Citrus Psyllid. The ACP is easy to ID because it sits on the leaves with its butt stuck up in the air at a 45 degree angle. I would suggest you contact your county extension office to help ID your pest, especially if you think in may be the Asian Citrus Psyllid.

Patty S.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2012 at 6:06PM
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thanks. The bugs are too small to photograph with my camera. Not aphids, not white fly. These run fast and they fly from leaf to leaf. They are not those Asian Citrus Psyllid either. A little moth like, and they are a creamy yellow.
I have looked through all the bugs on that page and the only one close is the Potato Leaf hopper. Similar, but the damage to plants and the bug's colour are very different. Those on my trees are a little longer and slender. Similar wings tho.
I will get a spray tomorrow and hopefully that will cure the ugly deformed leaves.
thank for the help.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2012 at 10:45PM
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