The Q&A Archives: Citrus Trees

Question: What's the best time to thin out branches and prune citrus trees in the Palm Springs area of Southern California?

Answer: It is generally not advised to prune citrus from April-September in the desert. Citrus bark is highly susceptible to sunburn, and removing branches opens up more area to the possibility of sunburn. Once burned, the bark will crack, leaving openings for pests and diseases. Severe sunburn can kill the tree. Actually, very little pruning is required for a healthy citrus tree. Orchard growers seldom prune, leaving low branches on the tree to both protect the bark and to make harvest easier! Prune dead branches in late-February to early-March after all danger of frost has passed. Remove young suckers (sprouts that originate below the bud union) at any time. These suckers will be the rootstock's variety, not the fruit variety. Suckers just take energy from the tree and don't produce the tasty fruit you want. Good luck with your citrus!

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