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Sunday, March 6, 2016

Bird Damage to Citrus Flowers and Immature Fruit?

Q. I have a lemon and a lime tree in my yard. For several years now they have only produced one lemon and one lime. I was told that the birds are probably eating the blossoms but I never see any signs of birds in the yard. Can birds be the cause for only one lemon and one lime in two years?

A. I have heard that before from some people who have citrus but I have never seen it. I think it is anecdotal. Some flowers are sweet and if there is nothing else available perhaps they might but not when other food is plentiful. Different citrus flower and fruit at different times of the year.
The reports I have seen point mostly at sparrows or finches as the culprits. To be sure, you would have to catch them in the act. The only solution I know is bird netting or giving them a chance to eat food they would prefer.
The usual problem with lack of production is freezing weather soon after or during bloom. Even before bloom. Flowers, flower buds and young fruit cannot withstand temperatures below freezing while the tree may not have any damage at temperatures slightly below freezing (lime) or to the low 20's (most lemons).

Another possibility is irregular watering, particularly in the spring and summer months when plants require more frequent watering. Increase the times you water during the April and May months. Use a surface mulch on the soil around the tree to retain moisture around the roots.

1 comment:

  1. Tracy in Valencia, SpainJuly 27, 2016 at 1:53 PM

    Check your tree for cottony cushion scale, which look like white blobs of cotton and lay lots of small orange eggs under the leaves. As I don´t like to use industrial pesticides my solution was to wipe each and every leaf and stalk and branch with normal household alcohol that you keep in the medical box. First pick off the white things with a toothpick or similar, dispose of them far from your plants, and then wipe each red egg off the leaves. I wiped every leaf on both sides and the branches and they didn´t return. My tree reblossomed and finally has started to grow tiny lemons and i´ll just keep an eye on it for next year. I have also been told that lemon trees don´t like wind and prefer to grow near a wall, so perhaps think of making a wind barrier during the flowering season and when the lemons are still so tiny they can easily get blown off.