Should I remove fruits from young citrus trees? And should I cover in winter?
Brooke Koppy’s small orange tree is about two years old and was given to her by a friend who’d grown it in a container. Brooke planted the tree in the ground in March and it started to produce fruit.
Because the tree was so small, she’d heard that you should remove some of the fruit, so she took off four oranges from the top branch in late summer.
Removing the fruit from young trees is indeed a good practice. Young trees have fewer leaves to photosynthesize, and will be better off long-term if they’re allowed to focus on their own growth and development, before expending precious resources on the next potential generation.
Also, the fruit can become very heavy, putting a strain on thin, underdeveloped branches.
But leaving a few fruits won’t completely decimate the tree, so it’s really a judgment call. In many cases, the tree will naturally drop fruit it can’t sustain.
Update: in late October, Brooke’s small tree has several gorgeous oranges to harvest!
Should we cover citrus trees in winter? It depends on the cold hardiness of the variety, how well it’s established, and what kind of winter we get.
To take no chances, cover with row cover or even a sheet when temperatures drop into the 40s. Container plants are more susceptible to freeze than ground plants. Even if the tree gets slightly browned, the roots may be fine, so prune off damaged growth in late February and March.