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Pruning Citrus
How and What
Cindy Fake
University of California Cooperative Extension,
Placer & Nevada Counties
January 2012
How to Prune…
• Carefully!
• Citrus bark is thin and
easily damaged so avoid
nicks
• Make pruning cuts with the
blade toward the tree
• Cut cleanly and avoid
damaging remaining
branch
2
How to Prune…
• Do not cut branches flush
with trunk
• Preserve branch collar =
ridge in bark around base
of branch
• Branch collar contains cells
that make woundwood which
grows over a pruning cut
• Branch collar also makes compounds to
defend tree against decay
• Do not paint or tar wounds
3
How to Prune…
• When cut too closely,
wound includes trunk wood
• Do not leave long stubs –+/-
1 cm above branch collar is
sufficient
4
How to Prune…
• Citrus has brittle wood
• Use a three-cut system for
branches larger than 2.5 cm
• Prevents bark tearing or
damage to remaining branch
• 1st cut: 30 cm from branch union
• Cut 1/3 to ½ way through the branch from underneath
(undercut)
• 2nd : A few cm up, cut from above, removing the
branch. Make the final cut just above branch collar
5
How to Prune…
• If previously shaded branches are
exposed to sun, protect them from
sunburn
• Sunburn causes bark cracking and
cankers, which may kill the tree
• Paint exposed branches with
whitewash or 1:1 mixture of
interior latex paint and water
6
What to Prune?
• Best is to prune branches less than
5 cm in diameter
• Why? …because they are mostly
living tissue and can protect
themselves against decay better
than larger branches
• This means pruning regularly, not
leaving it until you need to take
out large branches
7
Types of Pruning: Topping
• Top young trees at planting,
esp. if they are tall and
spindly
• Promotes side shoots which
develop into a lower, fuller
canopy
• The shorter the tree, the
easier and more cost
effective the harvest
8
Types of Pruning: Shaping young trees
• Prune downward growing
shoots to allow upward
growing buds to become
dominant
• Cutting the shoot just above
an axillary bud pointing
upward will redirect growth
upward
• Helps shape the tree for
optimal future production
9
Maintenance Pruning
• Remove discolored, damaged,
or dead wood from trees as
necessary through the year
• Remove crossing branches or
branches that shade out
lower branches
• Remove branches infected with
citrus blast (Pseudomonas
syringae) when weather warms in
the spring
10
Suckering
• Remove shoots below the bud
union as soon as they appear
• They are growing from the
rootstock and will not be
productive
• For Trifoliate rootstocks,
(Poncirus trifoliata) the rootstock
thorns can be a hazard to workers
and may damage fruit
11
Removing Watershoots
• Long, thick, very vigorous
branches = water sprouts or
gourmands
• Grow very rapidly, using large
amounts of nutrients and water
• Typically remain vegetative for
multiple years
• Produce poor quality, large, rough
fruit, with dry segments
• Do not contribute to production, so
should be removed at the base.
12
Reducing Tree Height
• Without regular pruning, fruit
production is on top of the tree
• Increases harvest time and costs
• Cutting major branches back to the
base is too hard on tree
• Only ¼ to 1/3 of tree height should
be reduced at a time
• Leave a few branches with good
foliage to photosynthesize and draw
water through the plant
13
Canopy thinning
• Sunlight develops flavors and sugars
in the fruit
• A dense canopy prevents
sunlight from reaching fruit
• Thin canopy every 2-3 years
• Should see dappled sunlight beneath
tree at midday
• Thin out center branches
before they get large => increase
fruiting wood in the center
14
Canopy thinning
• To facilitate thinning,
divide trees into
quadrants based on
scaffold or primary
branches
• Assess what is best in
each quadrant
• Prune one section at a
time
15
Canopy rejuvenation
• This tree has too much trunk
and a very thin canopy, which
means yields are low
• Canopy needs to be brought
down so fruit is accessible
• Large branches with few
leaves and low bearing
potential need to be removed
to stimulate new growth in
center
16
Skirt Pruning
• Branches that hang to the ground
• “Skirts” impede weeding, and fertilizer or
compost application
• Allow ants to access trees
• With heavy fruit loads, branches bend and
fruit touches the ground
• Fruit may be contaminated by soil
borne pathogens
• May cause plant disease, e.g. Brown rot
• Also potential food safety risk
• Skirt trees 50-75 cm above ground
17
Pruning for Pest Management
• Soft-bodied, sucking insect pests
such as scale and mealy bugs thrive
in dense canopies
• They like high humidity and little
air movement
• The canopy protects pests from
predators and parasitoids
• Thinning the canopy often reduces
pest populations to the point that
insecticide sprays are unnecessary.
18
Pruning for Pest Management: Citrus Blast
• Pseudomonas syringae bacteria
cause disease
• Common where Satsumas grow
• Usually starts at the base of the
petiole on small shoot
• Can move into larger branches
• Can cause cankers which kill limbs
• Prune out damage each spring to
remove as much of the infection as
possible
• Cut 15 cm below visible infection
19
What to do with Prunings?
• Significant amount of green
material
• Could be returned to soil to the
benefit of trees
• Difficult to leave prunings lie in
orchard…hazard
• Burning loses all good benefits
• If prunings are not from diseased trees,
– Compost with cow or other manures
– Use compost as mulch along tree rows, under trees
20
How and what?
Thank you!
Cindy Fake
University of California Cooperative
Extension, Placer & Nevada Counties
January 2012
21

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Citrus Pruning: How? (Fake, 2012)

  • 1. Pruning Citrus How and What Cindy Fake University of California Cooperative Extension, Placer & Nevada Counties January 2012
  • 2. How to Prune… • Carefully! • Citrus bark is thin and easily damaged so avoid nicks • Make pruning cuts with the blade toward the tree • Cut cleanly and avoid damaging remaining branch 2
  • 3. How to Prune… • Do not cut branches flush with trunk • Preserve branch collar = ridge in bark around base of branch • Branch collar contains cells that make woundwood which grows over a pruning cut • Branch collar also makes compounds to defend tree against decay • Do not paint or tar wounds 3
  • 4. How to Prune… • When cut too closely, wound includes trunk wood • Do not leave long stubs –+/- 1 cm above branch collar is sufficient 4
  • 5. How to Prune… • Citrus has brittle wood • Use a three-cut system for branches larger than 2.5 cm • Prevents bark tearing or damage to remaining branch • 1st cut: 30 cm from branch union • Cut 1/3 to ½ way through the branch from underneath (undercut) • 2nd : A few cm up, cut from above, removing the branch. Make the final cut just above branch collar 5
  • 6. How to Prune… • If previously shaded branches are exposed to sun, protect them from sunburn • Sunburn causes bark cracking and cankers, which may kill the tree • Paint exposed branches with whitewash or 1:1 mixture of interior latex paint and water 6
  • 7. What to Prune? • Best is to prune branches less than 5 cm in diameter • Why? …because they are mostly living tissue and can protect themselves against decay better than larger branches • This means pruning regularly, not leaving it until you need to take out large branches 7
  • 8. Types of Pruning: Topping • Top young trees at planting, esp. if they are tall and spindly • Promotes side shoots which develop into a lower, fuller canopy • The shorter the tree, the easier and more cost effective the harvest 8
  • 9. Types of Pruning: Shaping young trees • Prune downward growing shoots to allow upward growing buds to become dominant • Cutting the shoot just above an axillary bud pointing upward will redirect growth upward • Helps shape the tree for optimal future production 9
  • 10. Maintenance Pruning • Remove discolored, damaged, or dead wood from trees as necessary through the year • Remove crossing branches or branches that shade out lower branches • Remove branches infected with citrus blast (Pseudomonas syringae) when weather warms in the spring 10
  • 11. Suckering • Remove shoots below the bud union as soon as they appear • They are growing from the rootstock and will not be productive • For Trifoliate rootstocks, (Poncirus trifoliata) the rootstock thorns can be a hazard to workers and may damage fruit 11
  • 12. Removing Watershoots • Long, thick, very vigorous branches = water sprouts or gourmands • Grow very rapidly, using large amounts of nutrients and water • Typically remain vegetative for multiple years • Produce poor quality, large, rough fruit, with dry segments • Do not contribute to production, so should be removed at the base. 12
  • 13. Reducing Tree Height • Without regular pruning, fruit production is on top of the tree • Increases harvest time and costs • Cutting major branches back to the base is too hard on tree • Only ¼ to 1/3 of tree height should be reduced at a time • Leave a few branches with good foliage to photosynthesize and draw water through the plant 13
  • 14. Canopy thinning • Sunlight develops flavors and sugars in the fruit • A dense canopy prevents sunlight from reaching fruit • Thin canopy every 2-3 years • Should see dappled sunlight beneath tree at midday • Thin out center branches before they get large => increase fruiting wood in the center 14
  • 15. Canopy thinning • To facilitate thinning, divide trees into quadrants based on scaffold or primary branches • Assess what is best in each quadrant • Prune one section at a time 15
  • 16. Canopy rejuvenation • This tree has too much trunk and a very thin canopy, which means yields are low • Canopy needs to be brought down so fruit is accessible • Large branches with few leaves and low bearing potential need to be removed to stimulate new growth in center 16
  • 17. Skirt Pruning • Branches that hang to the ground • “Skirts” impede weeding, and fertilizer or compost application • Allow ants to access trees • With heavy fruit loads, branches bend and fruit touches the ground • Fruit may be contaminated by soil borne pathogens • May cause plant disease, e.g. Brown rot • Also potential food safety risk • Skirt trees 50-75 cm above ground 17
  • 18. Pruning for Pest Management • Soft-bodied, sucking insect pests such as scale and mealy bugs thrive in dense canopies • They like high humidity and little air movement • The canopy protects pests from predators and parasitoids • Thinning the canopy often reduces pest populations to the point that insecticide sprays are unnecessary. 18
  • 19. Pruning for Pest Management: Citrus Blast • Pseudomonas syringae bacteria cause disease • Common where Satsumas grow • Usually starts at the base of the petiole on small shoot • Can move into larger branches • Can cause cankers which kill limbs • Prune out damage each spring to remove as much of the infection as possible • Cut 15 cm below visible infection 19
  • 20. What to do with Prunings? • Significant amount of green material • Could be returned to soil to the benefit of trees • Difficult to leave prunings lie in orchard…hazard • Burning loses all good benefits • If prunings are not from diseased trees, – Compost with cow or other manures – Use compost as mulch along tree rows, under trees 20
  • 21. How and what? Thank you! Cindy Fake University of California Cooperative Extension, Placer & Nevada Counties January 2012 21