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By DLC Resources, Inc.

Citrus
Trees

Fertilize Your Citrus Trees on the Holidays:


Valentines Day - Memorial Day - Labor Day

Citrus Fertilization 101 tree. To find the actual amount of nitrogen


Citrus trees need three primary nutrients: in a bag of fertilizer multiply the weight of Nutrients
NITROGEN - PHOSPHORUS - POTASSIUM. the bag by the percentage of nitrogen. In
It’s not easy keeping your citrus
Phosphorus and Potassium, along with a 20 pound bag of 12-5-8 you have 2.4
happy! It is very important for
a multitude of other micro-nutrients, are pounds of actual Nitrogen (20 x 0.12 =
2.4).
citrus trees to recieve the right
in most cases sufficiently provided by
the soil; however, nitrogen needs to be Citrus trees require an increasing amount amount and the right kind of
applied regularly. of nitrogen as they mature. Use the nutrients. Nutrient deficiencies
Any kind of citrus fertilizer will provide following table as a guide. can cause discoloration in
your trees with the right nutrients, but leaves and adversely impact the
any fertilizer with a high percentage of Citrus Tree Total Annual taste of the fruit. On the other
nitrogen will suffice. Fertilizers are labeled Age (years) Nitrogen Application hand, over fertilizing can burn
with the percentage of Nitrogen (N), 1 1/8 pound your citrus trees and drastically
Phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K) they 2 1/4 pound alter the ph of the soil. If
contain. For example a 20-10-10 fertilizer
3 1/2 pound your citrus is unhealthy or
has 20% Nitrogen, 10% Phosphorus and
4 3/4 pound problematic it may be a good
10% Potassium.
When shopping for fertilizer make sure 5+ 1 pound idea to get your soil tested.
you are getting the best value for your The Arizona Cooperative
Actual Nitrogen should be applied in 2-3
money by purchasing the highest amount doses throughout the year. Extension can refer you to the
of nitrogen per dollar. If you have the closest lab - www.ag.arizona.
choice of purchasing a 10 pound bag of When Do I Fertilize? edu/maricopa/garden/.
20-10-10 for $9.95 or a 10 pound bag of The best time to apply fertilizer to citrus
12-5-8 for $8.95 the higher priced bag is trees is just before they bloom, typically
a better value. in January or February. You don’t want
to give them their total annual nitrogen
How Much Nitrogen? requirements at one time though. A (beginning of September). This way they
You will also need to calculate the good rule of thumb is to fertilize on the receive a constant supply of nitrogen when
amount of actual nitrogen you holidays - Valentines Day (mid February), they first start to bloom, just before the
will need to feed your citrus Memorial Day (end of May) and Labor Day heat and just after the heat.

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Water Stress Applying Water
Because water carries nutrients Basin irrigation is often the easiest
throughout the tree, the first noticeable irrigation method for the homeowner.
sign of water stress is dull, curling leaves. This method uses a 4- to 8-inch high dike
With continued stress, dead leaves will around the tree, at least as large as the
fall off, followed by flowers and then canopy but preferably extending one foot
fruits. Surprisingly, citrus will often beyond to accomodate larger roots. As
bloom about one month after being the tree needs water, simply fill the basin.
drought-stressed, if allowed to recover. Flood irrigation is used in older Arizona
Rather than irrigating citrus daily, neighborhoods. This is very effective, but
which does not allow all of the roots to if you have grass around the tree you may
get water, follow the watering intervals need to apply additional water to wet the
in the table below and utilize shade entire root zone.
and mulch to minimize evaporation. A If using bubblers, emitters or soaker
mature citrus tree uses about 60 inches hoses, be sure to buy enough to distribute
Example of sunburn damage
of water a year which, depending on the the right amount around the entire base
size of the tree, can correspond to 17 of the tree and design the system so it can
Sunburn on Trunks
gallons of water per day in the winter expand to provide water further from the
One of the challenges with growing
and as much as 135 gallons per day in trunk as the tree grows.
citrus trees is sunburn, especially where
the summer.
the trunk and larger lateral branches are
exposed to intense sunlight and have not
Watering Intervals by Month
been exposed before. This causes the
Time After Dec. - Feb. Mar. - Apr. May - Jun. Jul. - Sep. Oct. - Nov.
bark to split, crack, and peel, exposing the
Planting
wood beneath to diseases and harmful
0 - 1 month 2 to 3 days
insects.
2 - 3 months 3 to 5 days
To prevent sunburn, avoid pruning
4 months to 14 days 7 to 10 days 5 to 7 days 2 to 5 days 5 to 10 days
during the spring and summer. If it is 1 year
necessary to prune, protect the exposed 1 to 2 years 14 to 21 days 10 to 14 days 7 to 10 days 7 to 10 days 10 to 14 days
areas by painting the trunk with a white, 3 years or older 21 to 30 days 14 to 21 days 14 days 10 to 14 days 14 to 21 days
water-based latex paint and water mixture For more information on watering citrus visit http://ag.arizona.edu/pubs/crops/az1151.pdf
or shade the trunk with a loose cloth or
paper trunk wrapping. Avoid consistently
moist wrappings by changing when Frost Damage
necessary. With preparation, most attempts to protect citrus from frost are successful. Steps that
To treat an already damaged tree, can be taken prior to the first frost or freeze are the most important. Choosing the
remove any cracked or peeling bark right location for your tree is vital to its cold weather protection. A wind-protected,
from around the wound to allow the sunny area is the ideal location for citrus trees. Because actively growing trees are
surrounding healthy tissue to re-grow more sensitive than dormant trees, they should not be pruned in the fall, as this may
and cover the wound. If removing bark stimulate new, tender growth.
will cause more damage to the tree, Steps that can be taken for short-term protection are: covering the tree, providing
leave it in place. Also, be sure the tree is additional heat, maintaining soil moisture and spraying the canopy with water.
receiving adequate irrigation and watch Despite the best preparation, sometimes a tree will be damaged by frost. In this
for bacterial or fungal infection and apply case, do not remove damaged leaves or wood until the spring growth shows the
fungicide according to the product label. extent of the damage. See “Preventing Frost Damage” article for further information.

References: 1. Wright, Glenn C., Protecting a Citrus Tree from Cold. The University of Arizona, AZ1222. ag.arizona.edu/pubs/crops/az1222.
pdf. Mar 2001. 2. Wright, GLenn C., Irrigating Citrus Trees. The University of Arizona, AZ 1151. ag.arizona.edu/pubs/crops/az1151.pdf. Feb
2000.

For more information visit www.dlcresources.com ©2008 DLC Resources, Inc. All Rights Reserved