Type your question here!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Oranges Have Strong Winter Roots But Weak Tops in Cold Climates

Q. We have an orange tree in our backyard with only two fruit. I noticed there are two different looking branches. One has bigger leaves with flowers and the other one has smaller leaves and thorny branches but it is getting bigger and fuller. Is my tree going to produce fruit or not?
Citrus died and sour orange rootstock took over

A. Citrus trees purchased from nurseries, like most other fruit trees, are two trees combined into one. They are grafted together when they are very young. One tree provides good quality roots but poor quality fruit. The second tree provides the top of the tree which has good quality fruit.

            A common tree grafted to citrus because of their strong roots in our cold climate is sour orange. It is very tolerant of winter freezing temperatures. The fruit looks beautiful but it is extremely sour; too sour to eat fresh.
Purple leaf plum with huge sucker coming from the rootstock (right)
            Sour orange is grafted onto many wonderful citrus trees that provide high quality fruit. Most are more sensitive to winter low temperatures while the sour orange roots are not. If you look closely, you will see a crook or “dogleg” where the two trees are joined together.
            Sour orange, when it is young, may sprout suckers that grow from this “dogleg”. If they are not removed but allowed to grow, they produce very vigorous stems that are very thorny. They eventually dominate the top which produces good fruit and perhaps even cause it to decline and die.
            Sometimes the more winter tender top may die while the sour orange roots will sucker and produce a vigorous tree with horrible but beautiful orange, fresh fruit. These thorny citrus suckers eventually replace the more desirable citrus tree.
            The solution? Remove the sour orange sucker where it grows from the trunk. Make sure your pruning saw or shears is sharp and sanitized. Do not lay it on the ground after it has been sanitized where there are soil diseases that can harm the tree. There is no need to paint the wound but allow it to heal on its own.

No comments:

Post a Comment