The summer is here, after an unseasonably mild spring for Arizona. Those who have lived here for many years will attest to this variation to the norm. But, after the freeze this winter, we needed a break. Maybe Mother Nature noted our suffering and gave us a reprieve. Anyway, we can all be grateful for the mild spring, as we going through the hot, summer temperatures now through October.
The nursery hosted the annual University of Arizona - Maricopa County Cooperative Extension East Valley Citrus Clinic on February 3rd, which again was very successful, and we wish to thank all the volunteers and those people in attendance. A couple of weeks prior, on January 13th and 14th, we experienced a significant freeze. The temperatures reached a low of 19 degrees for the first night, and 22 degrees the following night. The daytime temperature between those two cold nights never rose above 35 degrees. So, after that, the traffic at the nursery slowed down, and the public waited to see the results. Then............we received another freeze of sorts here, our computer quit, after nine years of dependency and routine. What a shock that was. No more emails received for at least two weeks, until we accessed web mail from another computer. Trying to communicate with folks having their citrus questions without my friend, Mr. Computer, was more than frustrating. We have not been able to share any "What's New" since February. After several weeks of purchasing, installing, and then spending a couple of months working out the bad modem problems, and then figuring that the operating system purchased with the "bundle" package wasn't working, we are FINALLY back (almost) to where we were. I have tried several times to reach people who have had citrus questions, wanted to purchase trees, and some of you who are trying to share their citrus tree experiences. So, we apologize for any and all unanswered inquires to us through email. I do not wish to repeat any of the last frustrating months, and appreciate everyone's patience through this time of computer challenges.
The following article was written by our devoted employee, Allen Boettcher, a retired Maricopa Cooperative County Extension Agent, in the Department of Agriculture of Arizona. Allen works at the nursery part time, and has provided our operation and customers with his vast knowledge of citrus, their care, growing tips, and plant information in general. We are grateful to have him on our staff. The following citrus' watering needs in the summer will be helpful in your own backyard citrus orchard.
Citrus is a heavy water user. Are you able to use and/or give away all the citrus produced on a given plant? If not, keeping that particular plant smaller by pruning will reduce the amount of fruit available and help reduce the water demands for that given citrus. When residents have extra citrus fruit available, this fruit usually comes from a lemon and/or grapefruit plant. Tangerine/mandarins, oranges, and tangelos are the least likely to be given away by the backyard citrus grower. Bear this in mind! Proper pruning will help control the size of the plant, reduce the water needs, make it easier to pick and makes it easier to use all of the fruit available and control the size of the plant in our small city lots.
City Utility water rates also keep rising. For Mesa residents, this could take effect on August 29, 2007, if the full Mesa City Council approves it. This increase will show up in your city bill on or after that date.
Since your water meter is normally read monthly (within a day or two), having your outdoor plants watered well just before the meter is read can help save you a little money before the new rates go into effect. Check with your city to determine when and how much the increase will be.
Here is how the size of a citrus plant and type determines the peak summer water usage in July:
Oranges - 8 feet spread - uses 10 gallons of water per day
12 feet spread - uses 22 gallons of water per day
16 feet spread - uses 39 gallons of water per day
20 feet spread - uses 60 gallons of water per day
Grapefruit and Lemons use about 20 percent more water than the amount needed for oranges. Water needs for mandarin/tangerines is about 10 percent less than that for the orange.
Reading your city water meter, while irrigating will let you know how much water is being applied. Then, keep other water usage low during this irrigation period.
For another method, see how long it takes to fill a 5 gallon pail. If it takes one minute, then you will apply 300 gallons in one hour. If you need help, call your city water conservation office. If your water meter is read in cubic feet, one cubic feet of water equals 7.5 gallons.
What New Citrus Variety is growing at Greenfield?
Kumquats again. These are the Kukushu variety, in a 5 gallon container, and 15 gallon containers. The Kumquats' fruit is slightly larger than the Meiwa variety, but are still very tasty.
The "Improved Meyer" Lemon trees are once again available in a 15 gallon container. Keep in mind that this fruit is a hybrid combination of a lemon and AZ Sweet, so the acidity of the fruit is less than a "regular" lemon.
The Kieffer Limes that we started to grow approx. 6-7 years ago, have been selling, and we will have some larger sized ones available in the fall, (the existing ones took a major hit in the freeze). The larger ones are growing back well, but we'd like to let the trees grow more coverage for themselves this summer, before selling them in the fall. Smaller Kieffer Limes will be ready to sell next spring.Palestine Limes - are available in a 5 gallon container. These limes have been in more demand the last few years, so we've added this variety to our citrus tree choices. The fruit is less acidic than a regular lemon and/or lime, thin skinned, very similar to our sweet lemon, the "Butwal" Lemon. It will be interesting to study just how different the varieties actually are. If anyone has thoughts or knowledge on the variable nature of the two varieties, we are interested in hearing from you.
Also, the availability of harvesting the citrus in a smaller rootball is available again. We currently have some Tangerines, AZ Sweets - the Diller variety, and some Pink Eureka Lemons in the 14" B&B sizes for $50.00. So, if you're looking for a smaller sized tree that weighs less, and is younger in maturity, get in to see us this summer. We can help you select your tree and give you instructions on planting and care.
Remember, your citrus do need more water this time of year. Keep in mind a "deep", infrequent watering helps citrus, much more than frequent watering applications of water. And, grass nearby keeps your poor trees' feet wet, and the trees need more oxygen than water, so bear this mind also.
To assess your citrus trees' water needs by looking at the leaves, check the foliage early in the morning. If their leaves look perky, then you're watering schedules and methods are adequate. Do not judge the trees' by appearance in the heat of the afternoon. Their droopiness is merely a reflection of the desert temperatures in the afternoons here in the Valley of the Sun.
My leaves are yellow, am I watering too much, too often?
The citrus trees' leaves are showing sunburned leaves early this year. And the sunburn (yellow mustard-color leaves - showing more yellow on the middle of the leaf, and spreads outward) is more prominent on the west and south side leaves. We had a very mild, spring in April and even through the end of May, and June's temperatures shot up high very quickly. There was no time for the trees to harden up. No - your watering of the citrus does not need to change, unless you are watering more than once a week, by filling up the well or basin twice the day you water the tree.