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I have 2 very old orange trees. My neighbor told me that he and the previous owners of my house bought the 30+ year old orange trees back in (approximately) 1978.
I have lived in the home for 6 years and the one tree is sparse and bare looking. I keep the trunks painted, deep water regularly and fertilize on schedule. The tree still grows leaves, but continuously has large branches that die off. With each passing year, the fruit gets smaller in size and fewer oranges produced.
I am wondering if there is anything else I can do or if the tree is just on its death bed?
I would also like to say that there are 2 other young 'citrus' trees on my property. Last year, they gave me some beautiful, sweet oranges. This year they are sour oranges with approximately 2 sweet oranges on the entire trees. The sour oranges have a distinctly different color to the skin than the sweet oranges. I am wondering how this is possible? Someone suggested that it was a 'cocktail tree', but why on earth would someone graft sour oranges onto a sweet orange tree?
Thanks for any information.
This one may be salvagable, but it will be one knarly looking cockeyed tree.
If you care I would hire a citrus arborist to come in and advise you and treat your trees. It could be improper rootstock for the area on the "old" tree. It could be disease---hard to tell from photo "black area". They aren't suffering from weedwhacker abuse.
Besides the likely rootstock overgrowing the other tree problem, the trees both look planted in a well instead of a mound which traps water next to the trunk and leads to root rot and death. The damaged old tree looks OK. I am not sure what that black areas is but hope it is tar applied by the prior owner and not fungus.
Instead of removing the trees, it may be possible to graft onto the main branches varieties you might like rather than taking the trees out. By that I mean cutting the trees down to about three feet off the ground maybe leaving one branch intact as a nurse branch and T-graft onto the tops of the remaining branches. But it looks to me that several issues need be addressed first to keep the trees. And if it is not sour rootstock then an explanation of why the fruit is turning sour needs to be made.
If you decide to do it on your own, I would NOT make any major cuts now with summer almost here (unless that one black area is fungus which would need to be removed and treated now). Way too much stress on the trees.
These trees would best be replaced. They have both been butchered over the years by improper pruning, and really you have nothing much left to work with. Better to spend the years of care needed on two new trees with good root stock and better fruiting grafts, than waste the years of care needed to "possibly" repair what are done for trees. :(
Moon Valley has good trees, Whitfills, Greenfields, and several others in the valley. The time and money would be best spent on new stock.
Go look at a citrus orchard to see how to best prune them, you will notice they are not pruned, but allow to grow more as bushes. The sun should not be able to see the trunk or branches of the tree.
While I disagree with calling for their removal based upon a few photos, this is quite true:
"Go look at a citrus orchard to see how to best prune them, you will notice they are not pruned, but allow to grow more as bushes. The sun should not be able to see the trunk or branches of the tree."
Still it was common practice for home owners to keep their citrus trees all pretty (by cutting away the best fruiting wood= lowest 8 feet) and painting the trunk white. Trees have survived 50 years like this. But in addition to requiring a lot more maintenance of the tree, this pruning practice has killed a lot of trees mainly due to not keeping up the whitewash (and letting water hang around the trunk.
It is not based on a few photos, it is based on what the photos show, and that is these trees would be best served by replacement.
It is based on the law of dimishing returns! No matter what is done with these trees, unless one is looking for a task with little reward, getting new fresh stock will give you quicker growth, better fruit, and stronger trees that will live for over 100 years.
Mable's point about allowing the trees to "be" the shrubs they are is what is recommended by the citrus growers. They allow the branches to completely shade the trunk - even allowing dead wood to stay on the tree to provide support to the fruiting branches.
Thank you for all of this information. I am very sad that I have 3 trees that are not doing good. :-(
My "trowel and error" experiments and efforts over the years, Kathryn, have resulted in really, really great success over the long run - don't give up or get discouraged. You know what not to do now, and that is as valuable a lesson as the successes will be. :-)
ok, I cut back my old citrus tree and here are some close up pictures of the few branches that I left. I does look like what you described as heart rot.....but please give me your opinion.
If I cut back anymore than than I already have, then it will just be a tree trunk left.