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I have a Clementine Orange which used to produce pleasant fruit that was lightly seeded.

In the last few years, the number of seeds in each orange has increased dramatically. The tree has fallen to some neglect and I'm wondering if this could be related.

Does the health of a tree have any effect on the number of seeds it produces? Is there any way to affect how much seed an orange tree will produce, or is that strictly genetic?

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The seediness of Clementine mandarins depends upon the availability of pollen from other citrus varieties when the tree is in bloom. Clementines are typically low seeded or seedless when grown in a large block of a single variety. However, if bees show up with pollen of certain other varieties, Clementines will become seedy. Pummelos, for example, have pollen that tends to induce seediness in other citrus varieties. The pollen of Navel Oranges does not tend to make other citrus fruit seedy. Farmers who grow mandarins now often turn to nets to keep bees away and to maintain seedlessness.

It seems likely that there is a new citrus tree within range of your Clementine tree that is producing pollen that is inducing seediness in your Clementines. If you net your tree at bloom time, you may expect to again have lightly seeded or seedless fruit.

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More seeds is a sign of stress. The plant produces more seeds when the chances of survival (from the tree's perspective) grow slimmer and slimmer. A well cared for, fertilized, pruned, and irrigated tree will have much better fruit with fewer seeds than a neglected tree.

So yes, with the tree 'fallen to some neglect', it makes logical sense that your tree has been producing seedy fruit. It is not strictly genetic.

Regular and proper fertilizing, irrigation, pruning, pest and disease control, and minerals (citrus trees love them) will help the tree to produce the highest quality fruit. Also, proper pH is necessary.

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It's possible your tree has a higher amount and/or proportion of phosphorus in the soil than it did before. Seeds are high in phosphorus, and while that, in and of itself, perhaps isn't sufficient logic without knowing how plants utilize high proportions or amounts of phosphorus, phosphorus is known to increase seed yields in lettuce and the seeds per pod in beans. So it's possible the same thing is true in your case with your citrus tree. You may have to experiment to know for sure, though. You could, however, do a soil test and see if you have too much phosphorus or too little nitrogen and/or potassium by comparison, to give you a better idea.

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