Over the last couple of weeks, the citrus trees were blooming beautifully. Now the flower petals have dropped, and tiny fruit remain. Gardening expert Bill Finch says this should be a banner year for citrus…but that comes with its own hazards.
Even a medium-sized citrus tree will have thousands of these early proto-fruit. If all of them developed into full-sized fruit, it would break limbs and likely stress the tree so much that it would stop producing fruit for years to come. Fortunately, the tree is smart enough to quickly drop at least 50% of these trouble-makers.
But that still leaves a whole lot of fruit; it’s up to you to thin out what’s left. Start the thinning process when the fruit get to about marble size. For trees about 3, 4, or 5 years old you should thin so that there’s about 6 inches between fruit on the stem. Older trees can deal with more stress, and thus more fruit. For new trees just getting established—one to two years old—it’s actually best to pick them all off so the tree can concentrate on developing roots and trunk. Bill says that if you make that sacrifice, the tree will produce much more in the years to come.
Learn more by calling Bill’s radio show Sunday mornings from 9-11 on 106.5FM, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.