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Old 12th October 2009, 09:51 AM   #1
eelcat
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Sick citrus bushes/trees

We lease our neighbours' land with fruit trees on to top up ours. However, their cirus trees/bushes are very sick. The fruit appears to be fine, and some of them are still covered with fruit, but the leaves and branches are just dying and/or are dead. Some of them have no leaves left, but it doesn't appear to be insect damage, rather death of the leaves. Water would not seem to have been an issue, as we have had plenty of rain (both during the summer and recently) and they are planted on a slope (v gentle) so they won't have wet feet. It doesn't appear to be borer, the remaining leaves don't appear to be yellow but they need help, and quickly. Anyone got any ideas? I believe they were fertilised a while ago so I don't think they are deficient in the normally likely things.
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Old 12th October 2009, 10:22 AM   #2
Pumpkingirl
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Re: Sick citrus bushes/trees

Is the soil well-draining though? If the soil is saturated, even if it is on a slope, that could be what is killing the trees.

Can you take a pic of an affected leaf/leaves? I have a citrus health handbook here that may give us some more clues.

There's also this info:

"It is very important when applying hand dressings not to place soluble fertilisers such as urea and CAN against the trunks of citrus trees. Also avoid large lumps or piles of fertiliser, which will burn the roots immediately beneath. Root damage from nitrogen fertilisers has been identified as one of the causes of `sudden death' of citrus trees on trifoliata rootstock."
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Last edited by Pumpkingirl; 12th October 2009 at 10:24 AM..
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Old 12th October 2009, 10:34 AM   #3
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Re: Sick citrus bushes/trees

a dose of epsom salts around the drip line [magnesiun] not too much tho. or a la Bert Monroe...a frequent peeing. Permanent wet feet not good as previously suggested.
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Old 12th October 2009, 11:08 AM   #4
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Re: Sick citrus bushes/trees

In a thread I started in the plant growing and propogating forum, wind was highlighted as a big issue for citrus. Since then, I have transplanted a blood orange tree in a sheltered position (even 'built' a bamboo fence in front to protect it), and it is doing well - even starting to flower Meanwhile, our poor meyer lemon, in a spot that gets blasted by the wind, sounds very much like your citrus - dead brown leaves and no growing tips.

This might just be while they're getting established though. If your citrus has been in that spot long enough to get established (ie a year or more) and has done well before, I guess it must be a new factor.
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Old 12th October 2009, 11:30 AM   #5
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Re: Sick citrus bushes/trees

try a miticide, our citrus often get infested, you can't always see them
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Old 12th October 2009, 11:59 AM   #6
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Re: Sick citrus bushes/trees

What variety/s of citrus and are all trees and/or varieties affected uniformly? Photos of the affected trees would help but I suspect a combination of weather and nutrient problems.

If it is a sizeable planting get soil and foliar analysises done and act accordingly. Pattern of affected trees within the block (if applicable) will also be telling.
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Old 12th October 2009, 12:44 PM   #7
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Re: Sick citrus bushes/trees

After 20 years owning a garden centre we found the biggest problem with sick citrus is cold winds along with too much water around the root system. Cold winds would be number 1
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Old 12th October 2009, 01:25 PM   #8
eelcat
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Re: Sick citrus bushes/trees

With our own citrus bushes, yes, the culprits for the damage is cold wind and somewhat wet feet, the latter being due to our kind (other) neighbour who raised the level of his place thereby allowing (nay, causing) runoff to our citrus grove (and no, the council is not interested, been there, done that!!!!!) but these neighbours trees are about 15 - 20 years old and I would have said ideally planted. Their place is much more sheltered than ours. The damage is to all varieties, lemons, limes and grapefruit. We didn't do the fertilising, the neighbours did, so can't vouch for clumps etc, though none are visible now. I do know that where they fertilised the walnut trees, the grass is now dead in a circle at the dripline. Will take photos this afternoon when I go over to pick the fruit to try and give the trees a bit of a break. Will also buy miticide tomorrow as I don't think we have any. Thanks for the suggestions so far.
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Old 12th October 2009, 04:11 PM   #9
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Re: Sick citrus bushes/trees

Quote:
Originally Posted by eelcat View Post
With our own citrus bushes, yes, the culprits for the damage is cold wind and somewhat wet feet, the latter being due to our kind (other) neighbour who raised the level of his place thereby allowing (nay, causing) runoff to our citrus grove (and no, the council is not interested, been there, done that!!!!!) but these neighbours trees are about 15 - 20 years old and I would have said ideally planted. Their place is much more sheltered than ours. The damage is to all varieties, lemons, limes and grapefruit. We didn't do the fertilising, the neighbours did, so can't vouch for clumps etc, though none are visible now. I do know that where they fertilised the walnut trees, the grass is now dead in a circle at the dripline. Will take photos this afternoon when I go over to pick the fruit to try and give the trees a bit of a break. Will also buy miticide tomorrow as I don't think we have any. Thanks for the suggestions so far.
That is not good news. If the same fertilizer that caused the grass death around the walnuts was applied that way to the citrus it could well be the problem. Citrus feeder roots are closer to the surface than that of walnuts and the 'fertilizer burn' will have affected these roots and effectively poisoned the trees. You need to find out what was applied and at what rates. Assuming it was a conventional (soluble salts) fertilizer the amount of rainfall/irrigation after it was applied is also a factor.

Taste test the fruit before using or selling them as if the mineral balance of the soil and therefore tree has been abused they may well be substandard, if not inedible. In any situation of stress of a plant the last function to cease is flower/fruit production as the plant will attempt to reproduce if it senses it is in its death throes. Hence the horticultural techniques of pot binding orchids or girdling kiwifruit/avocados to increase yeild. There is also a school of thought that fruit produced under these methods has reduced keeping quality due to the shorter chain sugars produced when a plant is under stress. Such short chain sugar content can also contribute to reduced taste quality.

I wouldn't bother with miticide as if there is an elevated mite population it is not the problem, but just a symptom of a very out of balance and therefore sick tree. Treat the cause (if possible) not the symptoms

On rereading your post, how much more sheltered are your neighbour's trees and is it possible that they have suffered more serious frosting damage than you as a result?
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Last edited by Organix; 12th October 2009 at 04:19 PM.. Reason: Frost question
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Old 12th October 2009, 04:52 PM   #10
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Re: Sick citrus bushes/trees

I suspect it is the fertiliser having looked carefully this afternoon - under several of the trees there is still a large amount of fertiliser, some months after it was applied. I don't believe it is frost damage - the entire planting on this property was done by someone who had a plan and appeared to know what he/she was doing. The shelter belts protect the property from the NW winds - the prevaling wind round here. Is there anything that can be done at this stage?
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Old 12th October 2009, 05:20 PM   #11
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Re: Sick citrus bushes/trees

Quote:
Originally Posted by eelcat View Post
I suspect it is the fertiliser having looked carefully this afternoon - under several of the trees there is still a large amount of fertiliser, some months after it was applied. I don't believe it is frost damage - the entire planting on this property was done by someone who had a plan and appeared to know what he/she was doing. The shelter belts protect the property from the NW winds - the prevaling wind round here. Is there anything that can be done at this stage?
If it was frost then you will be seeing fruitfall, damaged fruit rotting on the trees and if recent fruit with frost damage (pock marks and scorching on upper surfaces not canopied at the time of frosting by foliage).

It sounds like the fertilizer is the problem though as I suspected. Most of the damage has been done so other than removing any remaining fertilizer there is little that can be done. Most of the fertilizer will now be in the form of dissolved salts in the soil that the trees are in. Heavy rainfall or irrigation will gradually flush it away from the roots (and into the watertable ) but will also potentially waterlog already damaged (burnt) root systems.

Sorry I can't help any more than that but I suspect that the regrowth you are seeing is the spring flush coping with a little of the nutrient surplus but longer term you can expect a slow recovery at best, or more likely total tree loss
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Old 12th October 2009, 05:27 PM   #12
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Re: Sick citrus bushes/trees

Quote:
Originally Posted by Organix View Post
If it was frost then you will be seeing fruitfall, damaged fruit rotting on the trees and if recent fruit with frost damage (pock marks and scorching on upper surfaces not canopied at the time of frosting by foliage).



It sounds like the fertilizer is the problem though as I suspected. Most of the damage has been done so other than removing any remaining fertilizer there is little that can be done. Most of the fertilizer will now be in the form of dissolved salts in the soil that the trees are in. Heavy rainfall or irrigation will gradually flush it away from the roots (and into the watertable ) but will also potentially waterlog already damaged (burnt) root systems.

Sorry I can't help any more than that but I suspect that the regrowth you are seeing is the spring flush coping with a little of the nutrient surplus but longer term you can expect a slow recovery at best, or more likely total tree loss
Doesn't appear to be frost damage

Thanks for your help - fingers crossed then that the trees will eventually get over their damage - it would be such a shame to lose them as it is a substantial citrus grove (not as big as ours but years more advanced than ours).
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Old 12th October 2009, 05:44 PM   #13
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Re: Sick citrus bushes/trees

Find out what fertilizer was applied. One possible way of 'mopping up' the surplus nutrient may be to mulch. If the fertilizer was CAN or other nitrogen based mix you could put on straw, possibly hay but not pea straw, perhaps with some untreated sawdust included. This mulch would consume some of the nitrogen as it breaks down thereby reducing that available in the soil to the citrus. The decision would then be whether to remove this mulch after 6 months or so, or leave it in place to utilise the nutrients it had accumulated. The health of the trees over time would probably dictate that decision.

The one thing you have to your advantage is the size of trees of that age. They will stand a better chance than smaller ones due to the sheer size of their root system
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Last edited by Organix; 12th October 2009 at 06:40 PM.. Reason: Correction on mulch materials
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Old 12th October 2009, 05:46 PM   #14
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Re: Sick citrus bushes/trees

Have emailed neighbour to ask what was applied. Will then suggest the mulching - makes good sense. Thanks
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