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Five Tips for the Kickoff to Citrus Health

Ready, set, hike! With football season upon us, we want to help you “kick off” your citrus’ health. Whether you are a rookie or seasoned veteran when it comes to growing fruit, following these simple tips can help your citrus have a winning season.

1. Draft an all-pro citrus team

Dwarf varieties are often preferable for backyard growing because they take up less space, do not grow as tall, and are easier and safer to pick. When purchasing citrus trees, buying a healthy tree from a reputable seller is critical. If you are ordering a citrus tree, make sure the nursery or shipper is in compliance with federal quarantine restrictions.

2. Prep your home turf

Citrus trees can grow in the ground or in containers. They are happy in practically any soil, as long as there is adequate drainage.  In more clay-like soils, small amounts of gravel or sand can promote improved drainage.

3. Water with complete coverage

If the leaves on your citrus tree start turning yellow and fall off, this could be a result of under watering, but it is more likely from overwatering. To ensure that you are watering adequately, water trees in the ground deeply once a week and trees in containers as soon as the soil becomes dry.

4. Have a strong defense against the cold (how to prevent the freeze)

Citrus trees typically thrive in warmer states, such as California, Florida and Texas, because of their intolerance of freezing temperatures. With some exceptions depending on the variety, citrus freezes around 27-28 degrees Fahrenheit. If you suspect a freeze, cover your plants with blankets, towels, or plant covers from a nursery.

5. Don’t fumble on fertilizing

Citrus/fruit tree fertilizer should be applied every three months for maximum growth and fruit production.

In addition to following these five tips, it is also very important for at-home citrus growers to regularly inspect their plants for diseases. There are four significant diseases threatening U.S. citrus: citrus greening, citrus canker, sweet orange scab and citrus black spot.

If you suspect your citrus may be diseased, report it immediately to the USDA.  The USDA’s Save Our Citrus iPhone App offers a convenient way for people to identify and report suspected citrus disease. This free app is available for download from the iTunes store.

To learn more, follow us on Facebook.com/SaveOurCitrus and Twitter.com/SaveOurCitrus, or visit the Web site at SaveOurCitrus.org.

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