The Q&A Archives: Sweet Tart Tangerines

Question: I have a dwarf tangerine tree, 10 years old, 5' in height of which I fertilize twice a year in the spring and in the fall. My fruit is sweet tart in flavor. Am I fertilizing the tree enough? How can I sweeten the fruit up a tad bit? This year the fruit has been a little more tart and with not a lot of flavor. Any suggestions?

Answer: Tangerine trees need high summer heat for top flavor, and winter temperatures above freezing. They perform best with winter daytime temperatures of 70-75F and winter nighttime temperatures of 45-55F. If your summer weather has been cooler and wetter than usual, that would account for the poor quality of fruit. Citrus trees should be fed three times per year for best performance. Mature trees need one pound of actual nitrogen per year, divided into three applications. Apply one-third of the fertilizer in winter, one-third in June and one-third in August. Broadcast the fertilizer over the soil above the roots and water it in well. A good fertilizer formulation (such as a 12-6-6 or 17-6-10) should include some of the minor nutrients (zinc, iron and manganese) as well as nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. Once the weather cooperates, your tree should provide some tastier tangerines.

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