Pruning Orange Tree - Knowledgebase Question

San Jose, CA
Question by chris14
September 27, 2002
I recently moved into a new house that has some small washington Navel Orange trees. They were never cared for very well, I want to keep them any way. When is the right time (season, month etc..) to prune them. I was thinking fall /winter. The research I have done so far has told me they flower in the spring...

Thanks,
Chris ayers


Image
Answer from NGA
September 27, 2002

0

Citrus trees usually need little pruning except to remove dead or weak branches and to thin twiggy growth. It is possible to rejuvenate older, established citrus trees but before starting to prune the trees, first assess them. Have they been properly cared for, and will pruning solve any problems? It is possible that they are suffering from disease, insects, little or no light reaching the interior, etc.

If you determine pruning is the solution, be assured that citrus trees usually respond well to hard pruning, when necessary. Start by removing dead, injured, diseased and crossing branches, suckers and branches growing downward. At the next pruning, remove weak branches and overcrowded growth. Never remove more than one-fourth of the tree at one time. Keep in mind that most citrus trees have a limited supply of carbohydrates in their stem tissues. Excessive pruning at one time may set back growth and fruiting. I'd prune now, regardless of flowering - you'll probably lose some of the fruit production anyway, so why not get started on your renovation project?

After the tree is back in good shape (it may take a couple of years), continue to thin as needed. You can also cut back long branches at the tips to promote shoots nearer the center of the tree. If more than one shoot arises around a cut, choose the one or two best placed shoots to develop as the main branches.

Best wishes with your orange trees!

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