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MY CITRUS TREES IN 2018

In August a year ago, Hurricane Harvey blew between 70-90 Grapefruit off my two Rio Red trees. It also blew off fruit on all my other citrus trees. The Persian Lime was snapped and broken over. The Temple Orange and Myers Lemon were leaning at a 60 degree angle against the garden fence. All 18 feet of our prized thorny Mexican Lime Tree was laying on the ground with the roots exposed. The Clementine orange tree lost all of its fruit which numbered over a hundred. The Blood Orange lost all of its first crop. The Calamondin sour orange and the two Kumquat trees were the only ones that maintained some fruit and leaves.

What a difference a year makes even with a drought from June 15 to August 31, and 25 inches of rain from September 1 to the middle of October. The two Rio Red Grapefruit Trees have over 120 fruit. The Temple Orange and Myers Lemon were pruned to get them off the fence. Each of them has close to 40 fruit. My master gardener landscaper and I cut back the Mexican Lime to leave only a few vertical branches. Most of the fruit on it were very small, but the two vertical branches we left had normal golf ball sized fruit that was very juicy. There are two volunteer 3 foot high Mexican Lime trees about 4-6 feet from the original tree. The Clementine orange has over 200 fruit that are sweet, but seedy just like always. The Blood Orange tree has about 25 fruit that are beginning to turn yellow. Unfortunately, it is over 12 feet tall and some of the fruit is at the top. The Calamondin sour orange tree is about 13 feet tall with deep green leaves and dozens and dozens of fruit. It looks like a Christmas tree with orange lights. The small round fruit has an intense orange flavor matched by an equally intense sour taste. The two Kumquat trees are loaded, but the fruit is late ripening.

We have had more than 5 inches of rain in November. The water table has remained at surface level since mid-September. The ground is like walking on a sponge. Where there is not a berm left from the oil field days of the 1940s and 50s, I have planted my citrus trees on a 12” raised bed surrounded by logs. This has kept some of the roots out of the soggy ground. The citrus trees planted on the berm have grown larger and faster than the trees on raised beds. Back in Southeast Missouri where I grew up, all the best peach orchards were in the hill country with the trees planted on the sides of the hills.

I have ten citrus trees with most of them over ten years old. Most produced fruit from the second to third year after being planted. As I have driven around Aransas County here on the Texas Coast, I have been surprised that I have seen so few citrus trees. They are about the only fruit tree that will grow well in this zone 9 area.

I picked a grapefruit today to eat in the morning. This article was satisfying to write, and the grapefruit will be satisfying to eat.

– Herman Green

11/26/2018    Garden Journals