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Sunday, May 6, 2012

Ruby Red Grapefruit Not Putting Out Like It Should

Readers disparity in fruit size
Q. I wanted to know a couple of things. First, what happened to my Ruby Red grapefruit tree. Why are my fruits so small relative to the store bought one that I show in the picture. I call it "orange sized".  Granted it is a young tree (planted in 2010) so is that why? It not only put out only 2 fruits but tiny ones at that.

Thickness of the rind or albedo
            Also if you look closely at the picture of the cut fruit there is more rind than fruit.  What would have caused that?  The first year the tree put out one grapefruit and although it was small the fruit while sour the fruit looked like a typical ruby red grapefruit in proportion of fruit to rind. The two from this year had that little flesh inside and it was pale, not like a white grapefruit and definitely not ruby red.

A. The picture of the plant that you sent is a bit odd. It was hard to discern from the leaves whether or not it's a grapefruit. Grapefruit leaves have pronounced 'wings' on the petioles (the little 'stem' holding the leaf blade and the branch). If you see most of the leaves with the winged petiole then I vote for grapefruit.

Readers grapefruit tree
            Another test is to taste the young leaves. Lemon leaves taste like lemon, lime leaves taste like lime and I'll bet you can guess what young grapefruit leaves taste like.

            The fruits in your pictures with the very thick albedo (rind) look like grapefruit and a very thick albedo on fruits coming from a mature plant can be caused by too much nitrogen, overly wet conditions and just quirkiness.

            If you can taste the fruits, taste the leaves and check to see if the leaves have winged petioles then confirm it's a grapefruit then I wouldn't worry. This is a juvenile plant and will produce higher quality fruits as the plant matures.

            The plant looks fairly healthy so do the confirmation checks about the type of citrus . . Keep it watered and fertilized. Remember the saw for when to apply fertilizer is Valentine's Day, Memorial Day and the most important is Labor Day. If you want to fertilize more often with less fertilizer at a time, that would be great.

            Let us know after you check the fruit and/or leaf taste and leaf morphology (cool word, huh?) for the winged petioles and get back to us. Just remember the citrus plants will live for decades and once they mature the fruits get much better. Terry.

The pictures of the leaves really look like grapefruit leaves. . . Besides the winged petioles the bright, shiny, emerald green color are so indicative of grapefruit . .  Terry

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