Ask a Question forum: Help! What's wrong with my citrus?

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May 4, 2017 12:44 PM CST
Hi, my fiancé and I are preparing to move into our new home. There are several citrus trees in the back yard. I'm not sure how old they are, but I do know that they have not been properly maintained over the last 10 years. My fiancé thinks they are dead, but I don't think so. There is definitely something wrong, but I don't think they are dead, at least not yet.

The trees have fruit and green leaves, but the bark looks dead. The orange tree has a reach of about 6feet, but the top branches look dead. The bottom portion has green foliage and some fruit, but the tree trunk concerns me and looks dead as well. The other tree, I think its grapefruit, looks a bit healthier, but its trunk too looks in bad condition. Most of the lower branches look dead, with the top portion looking healthier. Can these trees be saved with pruning and fertilizing? The yard is overgrown with weeds right now because of current construction, but I'm hoping to be able to save them if I can get to them in the coming weeks. Please help me determine if they can recover or if we'll have to cut them down as my fiancé thinks.

We live in Los Angeles. Sorry for the photo quality. There is so much brush in the backyard, I couldn't get good angles from where I was standing with my phone.

All except the last photo is of the orange tree. The last photo is of the grapefruit tree.
The orange has a tall branch that is dead, but the bottom looks healthy, with fruit, except the trunk looks dead too.

Thanks in advance for your advice.

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[Last edited by artistsway1 - May 4, 2017 3:07 PM (+)]
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Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
May 4, 2017 1:34 PM CST

Its hard to see exactly what you've got but tree #1 appears to be dead. The greenery is from the rootstock. Different rootstock is used in different parts of the country and the choices change from time to time. You may have a sour orange (as the fruit resembles an orange).

Tree #2 (grapefruit) looks like the main tree is still there but has two smaller suckers from the roots on each side. Those need to go.

The only thing you can do for these trees is cut out all the dead wood and see what you have left. If you like the shape of the tree and the fruit, let them stay. If you don't, they go.
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

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
May 4, 2017 1:49 PM CST
I agree with Daisy's assessment. But another thing we'll need to know is where in the country you are, please? You can fill in your profile with your location - we need city/state at least - and then it will appear in the upper corner of all your posts.

If you're in Florida unfortunately it's fairly likely that even if your trees are alive and will recover, they probably have Citrus Greening disease. Just about every citrus tree in the state has it. You can keep them alive and they will produce a little fruit for *maybe* a few years if they are infected but it's terminal, unless the scientists come up with a treatment. They've been working on it for years already. If you do remove the trees, don't plan to plant another citrus either. It would be a waste. Mangoes, lychee, papaya, and a lot of other fruits are good substitutes until a resistant variety of citrus trees is developed.

If you're in Texas or California, it's possible your trees aren't infected yet. Then, do as Daisy recommended, cut all the dead wood out and show us some pictures when you're finished. You'd also need to remove all the weeds growing in the area around and under those trees. Don't plan to have grass or anything growing there either, because the feeder roots of citrus are quite near the surface and the trees will suffer, competing with anything growing within the drip line.

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

May 5, 2017 2:19 PM CST
Thank you for the advice. I will post new pictures once we' ve done as you suggest.

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