The Q&A Archives: Orange trees

Question: I've got a dwarf satsuma orange tree that I planted last year from a 5 gallon pot. I left only 2 oranges on it for fun and while they hung on until harvest time, they were totally dried out when I opened them. Weird because it is on a regular watering system. The plant looked like it was yellowing as well this winter, but is starting to green up a little since I fertilized it towards the end of spring. Also, I found some white fuzzy insects (bleeds red, barely moves) connected to the branches near the leaves. I removed them all manually about a month ago, but I see that there are some back this month. Should I spray or just pull them off again? What are they? Can I get any fruit from it this year or should I give it one more year. I've also got a semi dwarf orange tree that I planted this year from a 15 gallon pot. It is a good color and has about 10 oranges just starting. Should a strip them off? I notice some of the leaves curling and browning on the back side. No pests that I can see on that one yet.

Answer: If the flesh was dry on your satsuma, it was overripe. It's hard to predict when citrus might be fully ripe so periodic tasting is the best way to determine exactly when to harvest. As your satsuma matures and sets lots of fruits, start tasting late August. It usually begins ripening then, with fully ripe fruit in September or early October.

The insects you describe could be mealybugs or scale insects; both can be controlled with handpicking or with Insecticidal Soap.

As for your new dwarf orange, the curling leaves with browning on the back sides may simply be a symptom of sunscald. The important thing is that it gets adequate water and be allowed to become established in its new home. Don't remove the fruit; if the tree is able to develop them to maturity, you'll have a bonus. If it cannot, it will simply drop the fruit on its own.

Best wishes with your trees!

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