New greenhouse and 4 Winds rootstocks?

loneroc1December 9, 2012

I'm building a16x32 greenhouse that'll be closed in by next winter. I'm planning on planting several citrus trees in the ground. Since the greenhouse will be heated with a subterranean system the temperatures might drop below freezing on occasion. I've always figured it'd be best to plant on flying dragon. I've always assumed (wrongly it turns out) that 4 Winds propagates on FD. They use Troyer (a trifoliate) for mandarins and a few other things but Cuban shaddock for most.

Everyone loves the stock they receive from 4W but I can find out nothing about the characteristics of the shaddock. It's an obscure rootstock used by no one else apparently. I guess I'm concerned that it's not going to be appropriate for a northern, barely heated greenhouse---less cold tolerance than flying dragon-the trees won't become "dormant" in the winter, etc.

It seems that there aren't mail order nurseries around any more that ship to the north and propagate on FD--at least none with any selection (4W offers every tree I'm looking for).

Does anyone have any thoughts on the Cuban shaddock and its hardiness or general suitability for a northern cold greenhouse? Of course thanks in advance for any help.

Steve H.

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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA

Have you chatted with the folks at Four Winds? They are very good about answering questions, and they really are the experts about Cuban Shaddock. My understanding is reflected in this attached article by Dr. Bitters - pretty dwarfing, maybe not quite as much as FD, but significant. Early productivity, dropping off significantly after about 10 years, and rather sensitive to cold temps. But, I think a chat with the Four Winds folks will help you out. There are online nurseries that provide citrus on FD, but you don't mention where you live in your GW Zone field, so can't really point you to a source. If you live within a citrus state that is under quarantine, that will significantly limit your options. FD is very slow growing, so often growers will shy away from it, and, you need to also consider that for yourself. Another possibly better rootstock option is another one of the trifoliate hybrids, C35, which is more dwarfing than, say, Troyer or Carizzo, and also has good cold tolerance. Now, all that being said about cold tolerance, you still will have to protect your more sensitive scion selections (like limes), as you can end up with your rootstock surviving, and the grafted scion freezing and dying if temps drop too low for too long. You may end up having to graft your own citrus, so consider both FD and C35 as possible rootstock options.

Patty S.

Here is a link that might be useful: Rootstocks with Dwarfing Effects, W.P. Bitters

    Bookmark   December 9, 2012 at 12:17PM
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Consider also the pH of your soil. Cuban Shaddock is a pomelo and thus difficult at best to grow in high pH soils. The CS rootstock really likes soils of 5.5 to 6.

You might consider Volk Ameriana for greenhouse growing; it grows a little slower than I prefer; but it produces fewer, and thus larger, better flavored fruits.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2012 at 9:06PM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA

John, just a head's up - Four Winds is a California company, and sells to many, many California customers with soil pH's above 5.5/6.0. My soil pH is probably around 7.0, maybe as high as 7.2. My Four Winds trees are doing just fine. No pH adjustment needed. In fact, they are one of the few trees that have never had an issue with Phytophthora, which has been a God-send. They're of course smaller than most of my other citrus on C35, Volkameriana or Troyer/Carrizo (those that have survived on Troyer/Carrizo I should say), but that's to be expected due to the dwarfing aspects of the rootstock, and also that I bought mostly 1 year old trees.

Volkameriana tends to produce less sweet fruit than the trifoliate hybrids, which is one of the reasons why it is not used for sweet citrus cultivars, and in general here in California, not widely used. Growers out here will use Volkameriana for less vigorous sweet cultivars, like Cocktail pummelo hybrid, for example (this was shared with me by the folks at Clausen Nursery about Volkameriana's more vigorous characteristics for Cocktail), and on occasion, for sour cultivars. Volkameriana would not be your first choice rootstock for sweet citrus. Fine for sour citrus (and frequently used with lemon cultivars), but not one you really would want to go to, for sweet citrus. And, as an aside, my Cocktail on Volkameriana is struggling mightily with my dumb Phytophthora soil issues. It is terribly chlorotic, and I need to get up there and treat it with phosphorus acid. I must do that this week!

If Steve is looking for dwarfing rootstock that will produce good-tasting fruits, and have some tolerance for pH issues, then the trifoliate hybrids are probably the best choice. FD is very dwarfing, but very slow growing, and some of our commercial tree growers avoid it, due to some graft union issues (girdling - this was shared with me by Citrus Tree Source). Best bet of the trifoliate hybrids for next smallest tree is C35. Or, trees on Cuban Shaddock, but the one downside to Cuban Shaddock is dcreased productivity with more mature trees.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2012 at 10:56PM
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Thanks for the info Patty and John!

I am located in SW Wisconsin USA near the town of Lone Rock. For decades we held the low temperature record for the lower 48 (-53F) but I believe that dubious honor has passed to a Montana town.

I had looked through Dr Bitter's monograph on citrus rootstocks but didn't find much specific info on dwarfing, but read enough to suspect that the Cuban shaddock wouldn't be a good choice for me.

I haven't spoken with 4W yet--i didn't want to bother them until I was ready to order this spring. I also like to do my homework before I talk to the pros. I ask better questions that way.

It's clear that trifoliate rootstocks are the way to go for me, but it looks like 4W can supply me with satsumas. Any other suggestions for mail order companies that will send decent sized trees to Wisconsin? Steve H.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 8:06AM
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krismast(6 S.E. PA)


Have you ever heard of or contacted mckenzie farms in South Carolina? I THINK they use flying dragon but I'm not 100% sure. The man who owns it practically specializes in cold hardy citrus. I'm sure he would be able to help you a lot. I've never ordered from them, but I've only heard good so far.


    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 8:36AM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA

Exactly, Kristopher. That was my next suggestion, too. Stan is renown in the citrus world for growing cold tolerant citrus, and his specialty are satsumas. He grows trees for sale, plus has his own commercial satsuma orchard. Stan uses a variety of trifoliate rootstock, including FD. He may have some trees ready to go this spring on FD. See the link below, he's a really nice guy, and is good about replying to emails.

Patty S.

Here is a link that might be useful: McKenzie Farms - Hardy Citrus

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 9:58AM
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Thanks folks.

I emailed Stan and he got back to me in an hour. We had a very helpful exchange. He even sent me pictures of his farm to make me jealous of his sunshine. I can't order anything now because of my weather but come spring I'll order a Brown's Select satsuma and an Oro Blanco "grapefruit" from him on trifoliate. Both should be hardy for me.

After my greenhouse is up and running for a couple years I'll know if I can keep it warm enough to put in an orange or

    Bookmark   December 12, 2012 at 9:15PM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA

Great choices, loneroc! Stan is a great guy, and will not steer you wrong. He can tell you for sure, what will survive, as he has been down that road :-)

Patty S.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2012 at 9:25PM
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