I have an orange tree growing in my backyard. I am not sure of the exact species. It has 4 oranges growing on it right now. Three of them appear to be very healthy. The other one is very small and stopped growing. When I inspected it I could see that most of its attachment to the branch was torn and this is probably why it was stunted. Is there something I can do for the other fruit to support them and prevent the same thing happening? This is a very small tree, less than 4 feet tall.
You can make a hammock-type support out of plastic netting, and attach the ends to the stem carrying the fruit with a foam coated wire tie, or similar non-abrasive connector. This won't relieve stress on the branch, but will make it so that the fruit will pull the branch from more than one point, and relieve a little stress from the fruit stem.
I just encountered this same issue. For the past few years, I have been cutting off most of the oranges so the tree can focus it's energy on getting larger. This has worked. This year, I was too busy with school to cut off the oranges and let them all grow. The tree was completely overwhelmed (it was dry this year too). I ended up staking a rather well set 10 ft stake into the ground and used gardening rope and gardening plant clips to provide some support to the surrounding branches which were drooping due to the large orange weight. I never actually held up the oranges themselves but rather put the gardening clips close to the fruit attached to the stem. I also pruned off any branches which broke due to the fruit weight. I also removed any oranges that seemed like they weren't doing as well. After this, the tree is doing much better. Also wanted to note that branches that have oranges on them tend to grow stronger and thicker to help support the weight of the fruit. I noticed this last year when I removed all oranges except 3 from one branch. I expect that next year hopefully these branches will be able to handle the extra fruit.
Bought a pack of these gardening clips at the dollar store to assist with this: http://www.dealzer.com/gro1-large-plant-clips-20-pack/?gclid=Cj0KEQjw-7GxBRCL_Kq6mZSHvdsBEiQA7r8VhM4Zvhu32z0sU6LH3ZiF6QNUGItnh3Qm49qYy1y4rc4aAhQY8P8HAQ
Bought this twine from the dollar store as well: http://sustainableseedco.com/green-garden-twine.html
I also tried to tie down the limbs so that they supported eachother and so they still were able to move with the wind/etc. This should make them develop over time so they can better support the branch weight and fruit weight in the future.
Hope this info helps.
It isn't necessary to provide support for individual fruits on the tree for oranges. The one with the broken stem which stopped growing has probably suffered some kind of physical damage, something knocking against it perhaps, which has snapped the stem of the fruit. Sometimes dwarf orange trees need staking if they're overloaded with fruit, but that's to support the trunk rather than the individual fruits - the weight of the fruits might cause the bough or trunk to split otherwise.