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The Master Gardener – Lake Havasu Gardening

Pucker Up and Get Planting!

Lake Havasu Master Gardner

Dottie Holman is a Lake Havasu City Master Gardener Emeritus

Citrus is one of the most popular trees grown here in Lake Havasu City. However, citrus is not native to our part of the desert, so special guidelines are in order to maintain a healthy citrus tree.  The guidelines that I am giving you are specifically for Lake Havasu City and Bullhead City.

When choosing a variety of citrus you need to consider your needs, such as when do you want to harvest, seed or seedless, skin of the fruit for peeling, taste and color of the fruits flesh.  These are important decisions since you will be enjoying these trees for 15 to 20 years.  Some of the recommended citrus varieties for Arizona are:

 

Oranges: Diller, Marrs, Trovita, Valencia (not Naval).

Grapefruit: Marsh, Duncan, Redblush.

Mandarins/Tangerines: Dancy, Kinnow, Algerian (Clementine),

Fairchild, Fremont.

Tangelos: Minneola, Orlando.

Lemons: Eureka, Lisbon, Villafranca, Myer.

Limes: Mexican Lime (Key Lime), Tahiti, Bears.

PLANTING

You need to dig the hole three to five times wider and no deeper than the root ball.  Once placed in the hole, score the sides to promote root growth and backfill with the original soil (minus the rocks) and form a well.  After the first year, construct a dike around (but not touching) the trunk of the citrus tree to prevent irrigation water from wetting the trunk. This is called a double well and will prevent Phytophthora, water-borne fungi that enters the tree through the bark at the root stock graft line.

IRRIGATION

During the first year, deeply irrigate every three days in the summer and every six days in the winter.  After one year, deeply irrigate every four to seven days in the summer and every eight to twelve days in the winter.  Deep watering means that the root system should be wet to a depth of three or four feet.  If you irrigate by a bubbler system you will need to double irrigate every couple of months to leach out accumulated soil salts that will build up.  Citrus trees do not like salt on their roots.

FERTILIZING

Fertilize carefully.  Application of all fertilizers should be done according to the manufacturer’s directions.  The only part of the directions you should ignore is when you should apply fertilizer.  The recommended feeding time for citrus trees in Lake Havasu and Bullhead is February, April, and September (when the temperature is below 100 degrees (NOT AUGUST!).  Also remember that the age of the tree begins when you plant it.  If you have an iron deficiency, use liquid chelated iron.  Fertilization of a citrus tree is not necessary if it has been in the ground for less than a year since it came packed with all the nutrients that it will need for a year.

FRUIT

Whether you buy a tree that’s eight-years-old or only one-year-old, fruit set starts approximately three to five years after the tree has been planted in the ground.  Remember that good planning of your citrus needs will pay you back in the long run.  Decide the fruits that you enjoy and will utilize, and when they will be ready for harvesting.  Limes ripen in September. Mandarins, tangerines and tangelos are ready in November/December. Oranges become ready by March. Lemons are good around March/April and grapefruits are best after April. The best test is the taste test.

Dottie Holman is a Lake Havasu City Master Gardener Emeritus. For details, call the Lake Havasu Master Gardeners hotline at 928-753-3788 or email mohavece@cals.arizona.edu or see them the first Tuesday of the month from 11am-1 pm at the Mohave County Library.

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