- Author: Pamela M. Geisel
This was a rough winter for young citrus trees. Many may have died and most did suffer from frost/freeze damage depending, the degree of which depending upon the duration of low temperatures this winter. At our house, it was 17 degrees F for at least 4 nights in a row and since we were out of town, there was no one home to either irrigate, put lights under the trees or cover them. They were on their own and they did suffer.
Several of the trees appear to have died but others are still green in parts, and others now have small young shoots that may grow out and become a tree one day. The questions to ask now is what can I do to help these trees recover?
The first thing is to go ahead and fertilize lightly with a nitrogen fertilizer or an organic fertilizer high in nitrogen but only if the trees have leaves. Don’t go overboard but a small amount applied now will help to stimulate vegetative growth. Prune out the dead wood back to healthy wood. Paint the trunks and exposed bark with a diluted white paint (50:50 water to paint) and irrigate-but lightly. Since they don’t have a lot of leaves to transpire water, they should be irrigated but not to the point of soggy. After that, just wait until you are sure they are going to grow or if not, then take them out and replace them. One other thing is the be sure that any new growth that emerges is from above the bud union. If it is from below, it will be from the rootstock and the quality of the resulting fruit will not be good. Rub out any buds or shoots that come from the rootstock unless you intend on grafting them over.
For more information on frost recovery of citrus go to our free publication located at: http://anrcatalog.ucdavis.edu/Citrus/8100.aspx