The Q&A Archives: Sour Navel Oranges

Question: My Navel Oranges this year are still hard and sour tasting. They are ordinarily seet by late Dec. (The tree is about 22 years old). Although we've had about an 18 month drought, I've watered and fertilized regularly. Other friends in our garden complain of the same thing.

Can you offer any explanation for this phenomenon?

Answer: Oranges take so long to develop that it's easy to forget what the climate was like over the many months from blossom set to fruit maturity. The fruit is mostly water so if yours are dry inside and sour, it indicates the tree experienced some droughty conditions while the fruit was growing and maturing. Citrus trees need a fairly constance source of moisture. Even if you watered your lawn regularly, the tree roots may not have gotten all the moisture they required during the hottest summer months. When roots of plants intermingle, they compete for moisture and nutrients. Try supplying water more frequently to your tree, deeply soaking the root area every week or two during the spring and summer months. Providing water on a regular basis will make a big difference in the quality of your oranges.

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