The Q&A Archives: citrus appearance/development

Question: my various citrus fruit trees develop fruit but the fruit peel cracks and becomes hard/rough and poor in appearance. Is it controllable, or worse, citrus canker?

Answer: Citrus canker is a highly contagious bacterial infection of citrus trees causing yellow halo-like lesions or scabs on the fruit, leaves and twigs of citrus trees. Severe infections can cause leaf loss, blemished fruit, fruit drop and die back. The canker bacteria spreads easily and quickly on air currents, insects, birds and on humans by means of clothing and infected implements. Unfortunately, while there are a variety of sprays designed to protect against infection, already infected trees are generally destroyed quickly to slow down the spread of the bacteria. If you believe that one or more of your citruses is infected, contact your local cooperative extension for local rules regarding removal of an infected tree.

Other problems that might result in the fruit peel cracks include water stress, or insect feeding. The citrus bud mite generally attacks lemons, particularly in coastal areas, but it found throughout the state. It is a small elongated insect with four legs near the mouth and a tapered posterior. As the incidence of this insect peaks in summer, summer and fall lemon blooms are most at risk. The bud mite is difficult to detect but large infestations may be visible by closely examining fruit buttons. Sprays are available to deal with the bud mite. As with all pesticides, follow directions carefully.

Like most mites, the citrus red mite is an extremely tiny pest, only 1/50th of an inch long and red or purple in color. These mites infest leaves and fruit. Intense infestations during hot, dry weather can cause leaf drop.

Rather than guess at the problem, why not take a few fruit samples to your cooperative extension office for positive identification of the problem? Helpful folks there can offer control options. Contact: UF/IFAS Broward County Extension Office, 3245 College Avenue, Davie, FL 33314-7719, Phone: 954-370-3725

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