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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Remove Suckers from the Base of Citrus

Q. You mentioned that citrus trees are often grafted. Are full size trees grafted like dwarf trees? Do I need to remove anything? The trees are about five feet tall. Will I have more success getting fruit from full size trees?

Remove suckers like these from the base of small trees as soon as you see them.This fruit tree is watered with drip irrigation from in-line tubing. Wood chip mulch is covering the soil.The tree was planted bare root and painted with white wash to prevent sunburn.
A. All citrus bought from a nursery are grafted, full size trees as well as trees sold as dwarf or semi dwarf. Seldom are they grown on their own roots for a variety of reasons. The most common is because of our cold winter climate and protecting the rootstock from freezing. Some of this benefit from freezing is passed on to the rest of the tree.
Root stock dogleg on grafted fruit tree.
            Fruit produced from dwarf trees can be the same size as standard size trees if the tree is managed properly. If you look at the bottom of the tree you will see a “dogleg” where the top tree was grafted to the to the roots of a different tree. You will see this dogleg on many ornamental trees as well.
            Anything growing from below this “dogleg” (on the rootstock) should be removed as soon as you see new growth. Young trees frequently “sucker” from this rootstock and these suckers must be removed. Pulling them off rather than cutting them is better. As the tree gets older, it frequently stops suckering as much.
            Enjoy what you can. Citrus is “iffy” in our climate. Some years you will have fruit, other years you will not. Some years they may freeze to the ground and other years sail through the winter without damage. 

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