Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Please Help My Citrus Tree!!

     We live in some amazing times!
As many of you know, I have a love/hate relationship with electronics, when they work they are fantastic. When they don't they are the biggest pain since aphids were discovered. Updates all the time, new models come out before the last ones even got broken in, the list goes on.
     However, they have made communication much easier! As The Citrus Guy, I literally get questions and comments from around the world. People send me pictures of their trees, sometimes because of a problem, sometimes just to show me what they are doing. I love them all. I truly enjoy helping folks with their issues and seeing what and how others grow their citrus.
     Today, I thought I would spend a little time, showing some of the interesting things that I deal with on a regular basis. I will not mention any names, nor places, but I will show you, and tell you, what you are looking at. So if you see something that looks familiar, it might be yours, or, if you have this problem and didn't know it, now you do. Sometimes things I get are very interesting and I really need to put my thinking cap on. The first one fits that category.
It is an ongoing situation, hopefully it will come out okay.
This person thought they may have had gummosis on their Meyer Lemon. Gummosis is the exuding of an amber colored sap oozing from small cracks in the infected bark. They read on the internet to cut it out and cut off the bark.

This is what they had done to the tree before they contacted me.
I wish they had contacted me first. After I got all of the details of what was going on, it looks like it was only a Copper Deficiency. With a copper deficiency twigs can develop blister-like pockets of clear gum at the nodes. As the twigs mature, a reddish brown or amber colored ooze may occur in the outer portion of the wood. Severely affected twigs commonly die back from the tip with new growth appearing as multiple buds. The jury is still out as to whether this tree will survive.
     Which brings me to another point of this article, spread the word! If you know somebody that has, or if you have some citrus trees yourself, and have some kind of problem, drop me a line. Pass my e-mail address around,, send them to my BLOG, my WEBSITE, or my FACEBOOK PAGE, I am happy to help and it might save a tree.
     The next one is a situation I had only dealt with one other time prior. Half the grapefruit tree was dying, apparently for no reason. It was fairly well established, being fed and watered properly, but still continued to decline. After I recommended cutting the dead branches off and look for some kind of borer or insect issues, they sent this picture.

     Now I knew what was wrong. Sooty Canker. It is also called branch wilt or limb wilt. It causes cankers, wilting and dieback in tree branches. Leaves on the affected branches are often small, wilt and die during the summer. Brownish, moist areas appear on the limbs during the first stages of the disease, then the bark in these areas crack or peels away revealing black masses of fungal spores. Massive pruning, fungicides and lots of finger crossing is about all you can do at this stage. Again, the jury is still out on this case.
     This next one had me stumped for a while. It was a Pomelo that the bark was literally being eaten off of the tree. I thought maybe deer at first, but this was in a very small courtyard and there was absolutely no way a deer could get in. Then insects were my next prime suspect, but it was very extensive, and there were teeth marks.

     Yes, rats ended up being the culprit. If there is not much food or water around for them they will revert to eating the bark off of trees. I have seen them do it to hibiscus trees.
     Some of the issues I deal with are quite common, which makes it easy for me. As you may or may not know, the majority of citrus trees are grafted. The scion (top yummy part) and the rootstock (root section, not usually yummy) are the players in this game. The tree is bought, taken home and grows. Sometimes, due to neglect, wicked bad weather, or disease issues, the scion dies. The rootstock on the other hand continues on. So, I will get the question of, "My (insert citrus name here) at one time produced wonderful delicious fruit." A couple of years ago I (insert scion killing entity here), but it came back and now the fruit is nasty, bitter, and full of seeds. What is wrong?

Enter exhibit A- Poncirus trifoliata. The first clue is usually the leaves. Common citrus trees are one piece, maybe with a large petiole (the lower portion of the leaf). The Poncirus is trifoliate, three "leaves". This is a better example.

     So if the leaves from your tree that have come back look different, you may have a rootstock growing. When this happens, you have three choices:
1) Allow the rootstock to grow-it will produce fruit, but it may taste like you are being poisoned. I promise you are not.
2) Learn to graft- find a friend that has a really tasty tree and get a small piece from them.
3) Dig it up, toss it and start over. Actually, if you are close to North Charleston, SC, call me, I can use it.
     As the final issue for today, if this becomes popular I may do a sequel, I present the misidentified disease.
     Citrus Greening is a VERY nasty disease that effects citrus. It is literally killing thousands of trees all around the world and there is no cure for it. So, understandably, when folks see something going on that does not look right, human nature fears the worst. I can not even begin to tell you how many times I get an e-mail, phone call, or even at a lecture, a frantic client that thinks they have that greening disease, my tree is going to die, what can I do?!
     Luckily, I have yet to come across anybody that has had, thought a couple of times I had, but the tests came back negative. Greening disease mimics some nutritional deficiencies, so it is hard to tell sometimes. If the leaves are a mirror image of itself by folding it down the midrib, its nutritional.
But, like I said, human nature fears the worst, and more times than not, this is what I am looking at.

     See the gnarly looking leaves that have a tunnel like line running through it? This is citrus leafminor. Citrus leafminors are the larvae of small, silvery-white moth that flies around at night. Adult females lay single eggs on the undersides of the new flush of growth. The eggs hatch in just 4 or 5 days. The larvae then burrow their way through the epidermis layers of the leaves creating tunnels that appear as white trails running throughout the leaves. This feeding activity causes the leaves to curl and become misshapen. Older citrus trees typically tolerate the feeding damage without reduced crop yield or plant growth. Young trees sometimes suffer stunted growth but rarely die from their injuries. Luckily it is just a cosmetic damage. Other than netting, the best way to at least slow down this pest is with Neem oil. If you can't find any locally, you can get it online here Neem Oil. You spray it on the undersides of the new flush of growth, she doesn't like mature leaves, and the moth will not lay her eggs on the oily surface. Do not spray any horticultural oil if the temperature is above 75 degrees, it will cook the leaves.
     So there it is, some of the more interesting issues that pertain to growing citrus from around the world. I was really glad to have been able to help all these people, and the many others that I did not mention here.
Keep the pictures, issues, and problems coming folks!
I will be glad to help, if you are having an issue, surely somebody else is too!
     If there is enough interest, I will do a sequel. There are many more interesting, and maybe not so interesting things that I have seen that I can share.
Don't forget to follow me on Facebook or go to my growing Instagram page and check out some of the pictures from my yard.
I look forward to answering any questions pertaining to this, or any of my other articles.
Happy Growing!

No comments:

Post a Comment