Pruning Citrus in South Georgia

Josh McGill Pruning

Jake Price with University of Georgia Extension in Lowndes County provided an update on pruning of South Georgia citrus trees in a recent Cold Hardy Citrus Connection newsletter. The newsletter is published by the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. His report follows:

In February 2021, we pruned the Owari rootstock trial trees to where most limbs were at least 18 inches from the ground. We were proud of our work and thought we would not have trouble with fruit touching the ground, but with a 337 pounds per tree average this past November, we had a lot of limbs that we had to prop up to keep fruit off the ground. Much of this could have been avoided had we pruned lower limbs when the trees were one to four years old.

As the trees grow in the first few years, I suggest removing low-growing limbs. But do not remove more than about 15% of the foliage at a time, or it could reduce tree growth. Owari limbs tend to grow downward, so this satsuma variety requires more attention than Brown Select or Silverhill satsumas, which tend to be more upright. Figure 1 shows pruned Owari trees.

Pruning Citrus

We pruned long gangly limbs that are usually about finger size in diameter. We also pruned lower limbs on our Sugar Belles, which are more upright growers. The jury is still out on how to prune Sugar Belles, from what I hear. The Tangos grow upright at our plot, and they were pruned to remove the vigorous upright growth to promote more lateral growth. The Tangos on 10 HLB-tolerant rootstocks will be in the ground two years this May, and we will let them fruit this year (if a late cold snap doesn’t freeze blooms).

Source: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences

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