July 2006

Citrus June & Young Fruit Sunburn:

Excessive may heat can increase a heavier than normal “June” drop. The greater the number of days above 100 degrees Fahrenheit will cause more than normal young developing fruit to drop. A proper watering schedule is all the backyard gardener can do for this situation. Fruit sun-burning can also be apparent in May from our intense heat, and low dew-point temperatures. Fruit that are not protected by the citrus foliage on the southeast, south, and west sides of the plant are more likely to sunburn. Providing some protection to these fruit on young bearing citrus can help prevent this problem – like using a bed sheet, thin burlap, paper drinking cup, etc. could be tried. Try experimenting to see what will work, but with the least amount of work for you.

Helping young citrus:

Mid-day, overhead shade is excellent for newly or recently planted citrus, if it receives all day sun or our hot afternoon sun up through the first 12 month period. Using an old bed sheet or large burlap supported by 4 stakes over the plant will do. Take into consideration the angle of the sun, which is always changing, so that the plant will receive the maximum amount of mid-day shade. This will help modify the intensity of our sun. Sun hitting your citrus before 9:00 to 10:00 AM and after 3:00-4:00 PM will normally be okay. For our gardening endeavors to be successful here, we must learn to understand and manage our abundant sunshine. Good Luck!!

Watering Citrus:

The best time of day to water your citrus is during the cooler portion of the day. Also, try to stay away from breezy days. Do not grow grass or other plants under the spread of your plant. When you do water, give the plant a good watering and wait as long as possible before watering again. The first noticeable sign of water stress occurs when the leaves turn a dull green and begin to curl from the edges inward.

Water Needs are different for different varieties of citrus:

Water needs for citrus are not the same for all types of citrus. For example, lemon and grapefruit use 20 percent more water than the typical orange variety for the same size tree. Then the tangerine/mandarin citrus use 10% less water than does the orange tree for the same size tree. Take this into consideration when watering your various citrus types.

How Citrus Water Needs Vary by the Month

June & July – Water needs for June is a little less than what is needed in July. The water needs for your citrus peaks in July, and is a little less for August, as out day length shortens, as our dew point temperatures are quite high for the low desert area.

May & August – Water need for May is a little less than what is needed in August.

April & September - Water needs for April is a little lower than what is needed in September.

March & October – Water needs for march is a little lower than what is needed in October.

February & November
- Same water needs for each month. Water needs a little higher than for
January & December.

January & December
– Same water needs for each month. Lowest water needs for the year.

Click on the “Growing Citrus” link, under water and fertilizing for the “Seasonal Evaporation” chart, on the website, to see the varying amounts of water needed.