Ask a Question forum: Cara Cara Navel orange tree

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blanche49
Jan 2, 2017 9:08 PM CST
We live on the north west coast of Florida, the house we purchased had many different citrus trees when we first got here but slowly with time a lot of the citrus has died or is sick. We are from Chicago and really have no idea what we are doing with it. The house itself is 27 yrs old we have been here 13yrs. One of the trees that are left I'm pretty sure is a Cara Cara Naval orange it began to get hit by the cold weather about 5 yrs ago, prior to that it was a tree that gave the sweetest pink oranges. I have been trying to baby the tree since it got damaged and it seemed to come back. Little did I know that the greenery on it was shoots from the roots and now any fruit is super sour. Yesterday I tested the fruit again and found at least 2 oranges that were pink and sweet. So I believe the original plant although it is mostly dead is still alive a little. My question is if I cut off all of the new trunk and shoots from below I would assume the original graft would that kill the tree or give it the strength to grow again? And if I did what time of year would be best? It is still 80's here but we can still have some cold snaps.

Thank you for any advice.
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
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DaisyI
Jan 2, 2017 9:54 PM CST
Welcome!

Anything growing below the graft should be removed. The root stock tree is too strong - the grafted part of the tree can't compete. Do it now, the sooner the better. Your tree should recover after it doesn't need to compete for nutrients anymore.

Use some citrus specific fertilizer in the spring and then a couple times during the summer.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

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Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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dyzzypyxxy
Jan 3, 2017 3:51 PM CST
I agree with Daisy, cut off all the new growth that comes from below the graft on the original trunk. The sour oranges you're getting are probably coming from the root stock. You should be able to recognize the graft as it will look like a little bit of a "knee" somewhere around 6in. to a foot up from the ground. The leaves on the root stock might look different than those on the "good" part of the tree, too. So that might help guide you as to what to cut off and what to leave.

We do have a blast of cold arriving this weekend so any protection you can offer the rest of the tree for a few days - even an old sheet or something - will help it get through the "winter" weather.

There is also Citrus Greening disease going around, and it may be the cause of your citrus trees declining. If that is the case there's not a whole lot of hope for them surviving, sadly. But if this tree is doing better than the others did, maybe it is a more resistant type. Let's hope so!
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill

blanche49
Jan 3, 2017 9:48 PM CST
Thank you everyone for the advice!!! It is much appreciated, as to what killed or is killing the other trees, could be disease, lack of citrus knowledge, lack of fertilizer(I always thought our landscaping company who fertilizes our other bushes was doing it but who knows!) I have been doing the fertilizing the last year or so but it may have been too late. We also live on a man made lake and don't know if that is a factor. Either way, I may wait until after the cool snap this weekend then do as suggested and cut off anything below the graft. I can't tell exactly where it is but I have a pretty good idea based on where the new growth is coming from. I also purchased a new tree that I will keep on my pool deck for now just in case this one does not make it. We have another one that for sure is only root stock now based on this that will need to be replaced and a cumquat tree that is in sad shape too, that we will probably take down too as it is sickly and we don't eat cumquats. LOL I'm replacing that with a mango! But I would love to save this tree, so fingers crossed! Do you think if I wait until after the cool snap to trim, I should still cover the remaining tree? Do you think I should cover it with plastic like a terrarium since we haven't had much rain?

Thanks again!
Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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dyzzypyxxy
Jan 4, 2017 8:32 AM CST
No, you should never use plastic to cover plants against cold. If it sits against the leaves, it transmits the cold and burns them anyway. It would help the tree if you can give it a good watering before the cold weather, though. Don't forget to water all the way out beyond the reach of the branches, because the tree's feeder roots do extend that far.

You can get a sheet of frost cloth very inexpensively at your local Lowe's or Home Depot store, or any nursery.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Philip Becker
Fresno California (Zone 8a)
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Philipwonel
Jan 4, 2017 9:49 AM CST
Hang some christmas tree lites on trees. Not LED ! They dont get warm. Some water nite before long/hard frost helps some.
I'm not a big fan on fertilizer. Manure. Yes 😎 butt maybe your soil is lacking in some nutrient. Get it checked. Coperative extention. And take some cuttings off trees. They can tell you if disease is present.
You said you've lost most trees ?
😕Maybe watering !!! Citrus. And kumquat is citrus to. They are shallow rooted. feeder roots are like 6 to 8 inches deep. So they require shallow frequent watering.
Water at least every week or two.
They also need watering in the winter. There tropical or sub.
One inch of water a week in winter.
One and a half to two inches in the summer depending how hot it is.
And as mentioned. Roots extend past drip line. If you roto-till to close you will harm roots.
Best to prune soon. And hang lites up now !!!
I live in navel orange country.
So... Theres your
Citrus # 101 course by Philip.
Ooo!!!😁. Just got ideal ??? Maybe you could find someone to do some graphting on your taken over tree ?
??? Cooperative question ???
You can save em !!!
NOW GET TO WORK !!! There lifes depend on YOU !!! Thumbs up
Best !!! 😎😎😎
Anything i say, could be misrepresented, or wrong.
Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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dyzzypyxxy
Jan 4, 2017 5:05 PM CST
Good points there, Philip. Although we rarely have to water our citrus trees here in the summer - unlike California, we have a real "rainy season" here from June to September so although it can be pretty hot and oppressive, it does rain.

I forgot to say, with regard to the shallow root system near the soil surface, if there is any grass, plants or weeds growing anywhere near the tree, it's best to remove them. Even small plants can steal a lot of water and nutrients from your citrus trees because of their shallow roots. Mulch around the tree, out to at least a foot or two beyond the reach of the branches (drip line). But do not mulch anywhere near the trunk! It's usually too shady in there for any weeds to grow anyway. Keep the mulch about a foot or so away from the trunk.

Also make sure the trunk stays dry if there are sprinklers nearby. Re-direct them so they don't hit the trunk, because a wet trunk can lead to foot rot disease which is the most common killer of dooryard citrus here in Florida.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Philip Becker
Fresno California (Zone 8a)
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Philipwonel
Jan 5, 2017 8:28 AM CST
Points to you Elaine !!!!!!!!!!!
Thumbs up
😎😎😎
Anything i say, could be misrepresented, or wrong.

blanche49
Jan 5, 2017 12:51 PM CST
Hi,

Thanks for all of your good advice, so in answer to some of the points made, as Elaine said we live on the N west coast of Florida, about 40miles north of Tampa. Our house is on a man made lake and I personally think that has something to do with it, besides lichen on most of the trees, Spanish moss, some of them have black soot/mold from bugs, which I feel have all contributed to the demise of some of the trees and since we are north enough we can still frost on occasion. I do try to treat what I can with natural products, Dove soap in a sprayer, for bugs, I pick off Spanish moss and lichen. We can run our sprinklers once a week for now, due to drought, but I maximize by watering in the morning and afternoon. Also, all of these trees have been here since we moved in which was 13yrs ago and probably were put in when the house was built 27yrs ago so I'm not sure of the age of them or how old they were when they were planted.

I am, after the frost going to attempt to take off anything below the graft and I also saw somewhere how to make a tent/terrarium over the plant with PVC and plastic tarp so I may do that also until all the frost scares are over, that way in the heat it can self water too! I also saw some video from someone who uses coffee grounds and egg shells to fertilize their citrus, so I have begun collecting that for my tree. Hopefully as I am learning I will be able to save it, if not a replacement baby just arrived yesterday. Do you think I could plant it right next to it or just wait to see if the original dies before planting?

Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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dyzzypyxxy
Jan 5, 2017 2:07 PM CST
Definitely wait and see, on planting the new baby tree. Springtime (after danger of frost is past) would be the time to plant, and well away from any other trees to give it the least competition from any other plants, and full sun.

The coffee grounds and egg shells won't do any harm but . . they're not going to give your citrus trees much nutrient value, sorry. Coffee grounds have most of the goodies leached out in the coffee-making process. The grounds are a good soil conditioner, being small organic particles, but not containing anything significant in the way of nutrients that a citrus tree needs. Get a packet of citrus-specific granulated slow-release fertilizer and apply it around the end of February, again in May and again in October. You don't need to add egg shells to soil here in Florida, because most of our soil already has pieces of sea shells in it for plenty of calcium. Our soil is already alkaline, and adding egg shells will make it more so, not good for citrus. They like soil more on the acid side.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill

blanche49
Jan 5, 2017 4:19 PM CST
Thumb of 2017-01-05/blanche49/590d2e
Thumb of 2017-01-05/blanche49/e2ca41
Thumb of 2017-01-05/blanche49/3b0574

Ok, these are a couple of pics of my poor little orange tree, I just took them while I was looking for the graft. I think it's the "Y" joint.
Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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dyzzypyxxy
Jan 5, 2017 6:28 PM CST
Oh gosh, Blanche that really is a poor little tree. I can't see anything in the pictures that looks like a graft. But if you can start high up where the fruit is, find one of the nice pink oranges that are not the sour type, and trace that branch back all the way to the base, that is how you will find which is the original trunk. Or trunks.

Or you can do the same with the branches that have sour oranges on them, and just cut off the trunks connected to the sour orange branches. I'm very worried you won't have a lot left once you do that.

Couple more problems - the concrete ring around the tree should be about 2ft. further out. That tree has (or should have) feeder roots way out there under the beautiful lush grass. The grass should be stripped away carefully, so as not to destroy any tree roots. The concrete ring removed and the rock (or shell?) mulch also removed. Both concrete and marble rock or shells leach alkaline stuff into the soil so they are raising the pH of the soil your little tree is trying to live in. Mulch should be wood chips or other organic stuff that insulates, protects and suppresses weeds and adds to the soil's structure when it breaks down.

All this, and the tree has mottled yellow and green leaves that could indicate it's suffering from Citrus Greening disease. No way to be sure unless you get a complicated test done by the University of Florida.

With all those problems, I think I would have to advise you to just remove that poor little tree, and start over. But, don't plant another citrus tree in the same place. You should think about planting something else in that little ring bed that won't mind the alkaline soil. A fig tree might do well.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill

blanche49
Jan 5, 2017 6:57 PM CST
Thanks Elaine,

As for the ring and the rocks, around the tree, they have been here as long as we have so that means the former owner put them in 27yrs ago, so I don't think that was the initial cause of the trees demise, I'm not saying it helped once the tree got sick but...
As for finding another pink orange, I think we are out of luck, I picked a bunch the other day but only found those 2. I will take your advice though regarding starting with the sour ones and cutting off those branches I will know those for sure will need to go. As for a fig, we already have 2, and the birds love them but no one else! Lol
I have however purchased a mango & avocado tree, do you think those might work there? I can plant the new orange trees somewhere else.
Name: Carol
Santa Ana, ca
Sunset zone 22, USDA zone 10 A.
Charter ATP Member Hummingbirder Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Orchids Region: California Plant Identifier
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ctcarol
Jan 5, 2017 7:11 PM CST
I don't know anything about Mangos, but Avocado trees get huge. They need lots of room unless you plant a dwarf type. If you decide on Avocado, do lots of research on what type does well in your area. I have Lemon, Lime , and Avocado in my tiny yard, but this is Ca. Very different growing conditions, and I may have to remove my Avocado this spring because of size.

blanche49
Jan 5, 2017 9:20 PM CST
We have a pretty big open area, can't put fences, so that's good, I picked a Florida hass I think I picked dwarf but even if not we should be fine, along with the sickly navel, and kumquat we have a pomelo tree, loquat tree, 2 tangerine trees, 2 fig trees, 1 Meyer lemon, lots of palms, bananas and various other plants and shrubs so it should fit in! Lol Hilarious!
[Last edited by blanche49 - Jan 5, 2017 10:10 PM (+)]
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Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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dyzzypyxxy
Jan 5, 2017 9:30 PM CST
Doesn't sound like you'll go hungry, Blanche. Good luck with your wonderful orchard there.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill

blanche49
Jan 5, 2017 10:09 PM CST
Lol, thanks Elaine, can't take credit for all of it, most was here when we bought, I'm just trying not to kill it all! Hilarious!
Name: Philip Becker
Fresno California (Zone 8a)
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Philipwonel
Jan 7, 2017 8:09 AM CST
Im guessing the man made lake isnt new ? So i dont see why you think it is having an effect on your trees ?
Oh!!! Did anyone mention that you should deep water occasionally to wash the built up salt in the soil down. Possible problem ???
Its great you sent that picture Hurray! ALL the feeder roots are on the outside of that cement circle. IF ! they have been able to grow under it ! How deep does that cement go down ??? Im guessin roots havent gone under and thats the whole problem. Cement has to go and the grass as mentioned. Removed two feet around drip line of tree.
That picture REALLY broke this case wide open !!! Hurray!
😎😎😎
Anything i say, could be misrepresented, or wrong.

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