Reme­dies for bad citrus

Com­mon prob­lems with citrus and how to avoid them.

NZ Lifestyle Block - - Feature - Jane Wrig­glesworth is a gar­den­ing writer, blog­ger, and pub­lisher of the dig­i­tal mag­a­zine, Sweet Liv­ing. www.sweet­liv­ing­ www.flam­ing­

Thick skins and lots of pith

This can, in some cases, be blamed on the weather. In re­gions with cold win­ters, the skins can be thicker than in ar­eas with mild win­ters. You may also no­tice that the skin of fruit on the shady side of a tree is thicker than that of the fruit on the sun­nier, warmer side of the tree.

Un­for­tu­nately, there’s not much you can do about this other than clear away any­thing that might block sun­light from get­ting to your trees.

Young citrus trees tend to pro­duce thicker skins. Once trees ma­ture, they pro­duce bet­ter qual­ity fruit.

Thick skins may also be the re­sult of a nu­tri­ent de­fi­ciency. Feed trees reg­u­larly with a spe­cial­ist citrus fer­tiliser.

Lit­tle or no juice

Frost can be the cul­prit. Frost that hits while fruit is form­ing can cause the fruit to dry up. To pre­vent this, pro­tect your trees with frost cloth on cold nights.

Black marks on citrus skin

This may be the re­sult of a fun­gal dis­ease called brown rot caused by wet weather.

To pre­vent it, spray your trees with cop­per on a dry day. If trees have dense fo­liage, prune to in­crease air­flow and al­low more sun into the cen­tre of the tree. The more sun and air, the less chance of a tree get­ting a fun­gal in­fec­tion.

A black soot-like cov­er­ing on leaves, stems and fruit

This is an­other fun­gal dis­ease known as sooty mould. It is a symp­tom of an in­sect in­fes­ta­tion, of­ten scale or aphids. These in­sects suck the sap from the leaves and se­crete their wastes, a sug­ary sub­stance known as hon­ey­dew. Mould grows on top of the hon­ey­dew.

Use a spray or oil to deal with it. The mould will clear up once there is no more hon­ey­dew. You can wash your trees with soapy wa­ter to loosen the mould from the leaves.

Jane’s tip: let the light in

It can help to prune your citrus trees oc­ca­sion­ally to keep the cen­tre open and al­low sun­light to pen­e­trate. It also pre­vents the branches of trees that bear heavy fruit, such as grape­fruit, from break­ing. Prune af­ter the fruit has been picked.

Citrus trees can be cut back hard, al­though this does mean you will sac­ri­fice fruit the fol­low­ing sea­son.

Use a prun­ing sealer to stop rot or lemon tree borer get­ting into your tree.

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