Citrus Tree Maturity

foolishpleasureDecember 3, 2012

I am a citrus newbie and started with three trees
Washington naval orange Tangelos and key lime. The nursery gave ME the history about the three trees.
The TANGLOS was grafted in July 2009, to make it about 3 1/2 old
The orange and lime were grafted June 2008 so they are about 4 1/2 years old.
All trees are 6 feet tall and 3 feet wide
When do I expect these trees to fruit?
The other question I have are citrus trees has to be grafted to produce I know that Mango Trees has to be grafted is citrus like Mango, Can I air-layer a branch from a citrus tree and make a tree without the need for grafting?

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So many questions to ask... what rootstock are your trees grafted to? Are they inground or in containers?
Citrus don't have to be grafted; but the best ones are.

You can produce trees from air layering; but you get a rootstock of unknown vigor, resistance, etc....not too important for container trees; but could be a real negative for inground, depending a lot on your soil type, pH, water quality, etc.

FYI, I am a one trick pony... that is I really only know a few things about Meyer lemons inground; there are many here who may give you better advice; and as always a picture is worth a thousand words.


    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 7:38PM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA(10b Sunset 23)

John is giving your good advice. A grafted tree will take about 3 to 5 years to produce its first fruits. Some cultivars are more precocious than others, like satsumas, which will produce readily and early. Others can be a bit slower to produce. Rootstocks can impart vigor, and earlier fruiting, but those tend to be standard rootstocks (like what John likes to use, Macrophylla being the rootstock of preference for John's area), and other rootstocks which are more dwarfing may produce trees that grow slower, and produce fruit a bit more slowly, but will give you a tree more easily managed. Also, container citrus can be a bit slower to produce fruit as well. Lastly, too much nitrogen can produce great looking trees with no blossoms. So, make sure you fertilize enough, but don't overdo the nitrogen. I suspect you'll see blossoms this spring.

Now remember, it's not unusual for that first fruit set to drop some and even all of the fruit, so be prepared for that, too :-) Key limes, like all limes (and the wonderful Meyer lemon), are PROLIFIC fruit producers, so once it starts, you'll be in limes up to your eyeballs.

No, a tree does not have to be grafted to produce fruits, but seedling trees can take longer to produce. And, we graft trees because some trees on their own roots can have issues with soil conditions and fungal organisms, so we use rootstocks that provide better protection from certain soil conditions and organisms. And, they can also regulate growth, so we don't end up with a 40' grapefruit or pommelo tree! You can air layer a citrus tree, and some cultivars, like lemons, will actually root from cuttings pretty easily. Still, I'm with John, your best bet is a grafted tree. You will get the variety you want, on rootstock that will do the best in your area of the country, and in your soil and weather conditions.

Patty S.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 12:43AM
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Patty and John
Thank you for you valuable response. I am hoping to get some fruit next season. I can see few flower clusters on the Tangelo tree. I think air-layering will do good to me since I am a container grower. My neck of neighborhood does allow me to have citrus trees in ground We get freezing ice for about 2 month of every year although last year was unusual very warm.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 1:56PM
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