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As you can see in the picture, my Orange tree is developing plenty of beautiful looking oranges.


The Orange Tree


Now, I'd really like to enjoy these oranges as soon as they ripe, so I have a few questions:

  1. How can I ensure that they grow up all nice and healthy?

  2. Suggestions to improve the overall flavour of the orange?

  3. Should I be worried about pests? If so, What pest control measures can I use that are environmentally safe?

Cheers!

This tree is in Lahore, Pakistan.

2 Answers 2

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It looks like your tree is heading in the right direction, and has some great-looking fruit on it. If you keep the tree watered and fertilized, all the fruit should mature. That's the way oranges are, but they may not get huge unless you thin them.

Citrus trees respond well to lots of organic matter and minerals. Once your soil is in good shape, pests won't be an issue.

Some relevant material, from one of my long favorite books, 'the Complete Book of Composting by J. I. Rodale and staff' Mine's the seventeenth printing, from 1974.

(H. J. Kuppers tells this story of another grove:

"In years gone by it was the ambition of nearly every business and professional man in the citrus area of Florida to own a grove. True to this tradition, a former postmaster had acquired a grove of about 15 acres about 5 miles from New Smyrna Beach, Florida. He engaged the usual caretakers who follow the accepted methods from fertilization to spraying. Had this procedure been a success, he should have had a comfortable income in his declining years. His health and income failed and for about 7 years the grove stood in complete lack of care and deteriorated.

"This grove came to the attention of Mr. and Mrs. George Brenzel of Milwaukee, who had been spending their winters in New Smyrna Beach. In the spring of 1948 they bought the grove. They disked the grove lightly and sowed a cover crop before going north for the summer. In the fall this cover crop was disked in lightly.

"In the spring of 1949 they applied an organic mixture (made of citrus pulp, tobacco stems, castor pumice and peat moss) around the trees at a rate of 6 tons for the grove. This application was repeated annually and has created a healthy, dark sandy loam around each tree. In 1952 they applied 10 tons colloidal phosphate and 10 tons pulverized granite. this caused cover crops to grow where none had grown before.

"In 1953 they found greensand available in Florida and at that time they applied another 10 tons colloidal phosphate and 10 tons greensand. Mr. Brenzel reports that this treatment has brought the following results:

  1. More juice and better colored fruit.
  2. Fruit matures earlier.
  3. Trees grow faster and look better.

"At the time of my visit, May 14, 1954, Mr. Brenzel was preparing to disk in lightly a mixture of weeds and leguminous plants with the intention of sowing Hairy Indigo (Indigofera Hirsuta) for the summer leguminous cover crop to be disked in lightly next fall. These cover crops grow from 4 to 5 feet high where formerly none would grow. The soil directly under the trees is worked with hand hoes each year, so as not to injure the roots. The grove has not been sprayed since 1942. There is no sign of insects (pests) or of diseases. All trees have very dark green leaves indicating the highest degree of health and vitality.

"The fruit production of the grove has increased about 3 times the amount it produced in 1949. An analysis of a sample of the oranges in December, 1953, shows the following values over the average of Florida oranges:

  1. 14.8 per cent more minerals (food value)
  2. 37 percent more juice.
  3. 67 per cent more sugar (flavor).
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Trimming the tree in the spring orsummer is important. That is a good chance to take off diseased limbs, doglegs, and leaves; and clean and spray others. Ants can build an infinite amount of white condos, which you may not like either. Small trees can be easily sprayed with home made non-toxic inhibiting sprays when the tree is without fruit. Each year turn the soil over and mix in citrus fertilizer. After a tree reaches a certain size, they are pretty tricky to spray. Once they develop this white fungus or flies... they are tricky to get rid of, and although they may not hurt your oranges, they can kill smaller trees and plants to which they can migrate quickly. They can cause curly leaf and I had to take out a peach tree with several kinds of peaches because of them. They do have stronger sprays such as copper sprays, but I would rather not use them. 1) They say that healthy plants fight off disease, while weak plants invite them. The white flies, fungus, and mold tends to be in areas that get less sunshine and fresh air. Because these problems are highly contagious I do take out diseased plants much of the time if you see the disease above and into the root, I toss it. You must clean off and spray small trees as fast as you encounter an issue. While orange tree can do with a little oil based spray, these types of sprays can drastically affect the photo synthesis of your vegetable plants and stunt their growth. If plants fail two years in a row due to disease, I would say bye bye. Typically if the disease spreads to a peach tree for instance, it may lack sunlight and be too close to other plants. Orange trees are very strong comparatively. If you get into a position where you have to use copper spray at a very specific time each year, you better not miss that time, or each year you will have a mess to deal with. Just like when we cut roses we need to do so to let the sun and fresh air in, the spread of disease is only based on limbs and leaves touching. On the other-hand disease can enter open areas of the fruit.

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