The Q&A Archives: life expectancy of a citrus tree

Question: Do you know how long the life expectancy is for a citrus tree? My dwarf navel orange tree is about 30 years old and has produced a wonderful harvest every year. This spring it blossomed out as usual but then many of the leaves turned yellow and dropped. We watered and fertilized regularly throughout the years with never a problem. Since we have had little rainfall this year, we thought it needed more water, but it hasn't helped at all as the tree has dropped all its leaves and now appears to be dying or dead. A year ago, we removed two large trees that shaded this tree from the west, we had an extremely hot summer and 3 days of hard frost this past winter, could this have stressed out an older tree?

Answer: My research shows that citrus trees typically remain productive for about 50 years so your tree is middle aged. I do think that removing the 2 trees that shaded the citrus changed the growing environment and quite likely stressed the tree. Additional sunlight could burn the leaves that were used to shadier conditions, but also the soil moisture content may have changed, as well. Without the two large trees drinking up moisture, the soil may have become too moist for the tree roots. You wouldn't know without digging down a few feet - nothing that I would recommend, mainly because there wouldn't be much that you could do about it. At this point I would treat the tree as you have in the past; regular watering, but no pruning and no feeding - until you see new growth. Let's hope for the best!

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