Q. The low temps this winter affected my citrus trees. Most of my new growth is on the suckers. Should I remove them? Or just let the tree be.
A. If you look at the trunk of the tree you should see a bend in the trunk or “dogleg” where the top was budded or grafted on to the rootstock. I doubt if it is on its own roots which would mean you would see no bend or dogleg.
|Graft or bud union creates a "dogleg" on the trunk.|
Anything coming from or below this bend should be removed and kept off. Whenever you see any type of growth at all from these spots it should be removed. If you let this growth develop it will rob growth from the part of the tree you want to keep and eventually dwarf or kill the good part of the tree.
Next you want to allow the lowest branches to develop from the trunk at a height you want these branches to remain. The distance these lowest branches are now will be the height they will be in ten years from now.
If these are too low then move up the trunk to a place where you want the lowest limbs to develop. Remove any of these unwanted lower limbs completely from the trunk by cutting them as close to the trunk as possible.
You can do this now if you want or you can wait until next January or February if there is fruit on them. I am not sure which citrus you have but if it is lemon they should probably be harvested in December.
find limbs to keep which are coming from the trunk going in different
directions. Hopefully you will find one limb going north, one south, one east
and one west (I think you get what I mean by going in different directions as
this will give the tree “balance” and reduce shading of itself).
|Birdseye view of limbs radiating from the trunk of a young fruit tree to provide balance.|
On the limbs coming from the trunk, remove shoots going straight up or straight down. This leaves shoots that spread out in a fan (horizontally or laterally) but remove shoots that are growing up or down. This allows for better light penetration inside the tree and helps distribute fruit production throughout the canopy rather than just on the perimeter. I hope this helps.