Citrus trees losing fruit

Asked March 28, 2016, 1:03 PM EDT

I had the same problem last year with a grapefruit and tangelo tree that I just planted 3 years ago. Both trees are growing on my lawn with clay soil, which I made a large Island around. Last year someone told me I gave the trees too much water. This year I just watered once in 30 days. I'm still having the same problem. I got a ton of flowers, the fruit starts to appear, then they seem to dry up and then drop off. Can you help?

Maricopa County Arizona

3 Responses

Both too little and too much water can have negative effects on citrus fruit set. It seems to me that once in 30 days is not enough, depending on the weather conditions during that time.

Clay soil is a challenge, in that it can stay too wet too long. I don't know what you mean by constructing an island, but the usual recommendation for clay soils is to build up your native soil and plant on a raised mound or bed. This provides faster drying between waterings.

It is natural for citrus trees to shed a high number of flowers. A 10% retention can equal a full crop. Trees should be well-watered (not over-watered) during bloom to help set fruit. They also need proper fertilization prior to bloom. A three-year old tree should receive about 2 lbs of a 13-13-13 fertilizer, split into 2-3 feedings, the first of which should begin in February.

thank you for the information. I've attached a picture of my grapefruit tree which is 3 years old now and what I meant about an island was the barrier put up to separate the grass from the tree. I know I have some weeding to do but do you feel the grass is absorbing the fertilizer I'm putting out?

Without question, grass will compete for some of the nutrients, but that's a tolerable grass presence if you are fertilizing at the proper rate. Picture resolution is not great on my end, but your leaf color appears to be lighter than optimal. Fertilize according to the recommendation given in my first response and distribute the fertilizer in your weed free area as well as about 2-3 feet beyond the "island".