I got different responses, often conflicting ones: It could have been from excess water as well as lack of water. While the June drop may be associated with heat, even fruits that formed later in the fall dropped down in large numbers. Here are all the suggestions I was given, none has worked:

  1. Lack of water

  2. Excess water: I have tried a wide range of water supplies.

  3. Excess fruits - natural culling, so-to-speak. It should never end with five or six fruits remaining on the tree till maturity.

  4. Hot weather: Even late fruits have fallen in large numbers.

  5. Lack of nutrients - I have added humus & compost and supplemented them with fruit trees fertilizer. I used slow-release pellets to avoid over-fertilizing.

  6. Fruit fly: No maggots were observed inside the fruit.

The drop process is quite fast. The fruits are still green and may suddenly turn soft and partly yellow and drop overnight. I followed up the process by keeping only the green fruits and watched how the ground is covered with fruit the next morning.

My climate is Mediterranean. It is zone 11, so I have no frost. Summers are hot. Main heat waves occur between July and August.

EDIT : Update on experimenting with fruit drop...

Thanks for the feedbacks I have been receiving. Last summer, I did an experiment. Based on the the climate in its country of origin (Southern China), which is a tropical climate, I decided to spread the same dosage of water more evenly and increase it just slightly. Rather than providing water twice a week, I administered a five times a week regime. This includes the regular twice a week "major irrigation" (same dosage and with the rest of the trees), plus half the dosage between two consecutive "major" irrigations. This should keep an evenly moist soil throughout the fruiting period, all without overwatering.

Gladly, I have prevented fruit drop. Rarely any fruit has ever dropped. To be on the safe side, I also used the fruit fly pheromon traps. By the end of the season, the traps were full of flies. I suppose that most fruit drop occurred because of irrigation issues, since there were no fruit-fly larvae when I had the massive fruit drop. Still, the two approaches combined has improved my yield and the fruit flies were not the only ones to enjoy the fruits...

  • I am assuming these are fortunella margarita? Can we get some pictures please.
    – Rob
    Dec 2, 2019 at 18:42
  • Yes, these are the Fortunellas. Unfortunately, I did not take pictures of the fruits. The foliage looks fine and without yellowing. I will remember to add photos at the next season. Dec 3, 2019 at 16:58
  • I'm not sure of the problem, but I can recommend a better solution for fertiliser rather than fruit tree use Palm Tree fertliser, sometimes called Palm Tree & Citrus Fertiliser. This fertiliser has extra micro-nutrients they both require, like higher amount of Magnesium, Iron and Boron.
    – GardenGems
    Dec 3, 2019 at 22:57

2 Answers 2


Right so I hate to sound like an echo but the reasons you listed are the only reasons I can think of for why your tree is dropping it's fruit. The best I can do is prioritize them by likelihood:

  1. Lack of water
  2. Lack of nutrients
  3. Bugs
  4. Natural (tree has too much fruit)

The others are either under the umbrella of those first four or are not relevant. So, next season, I would plan on doing some testing. It sounds to me like you have multiple tree's. So I would plan on setting one of them up with a regulated (automated) supply of water and fertilizer. Prune it before next spring (fairly heavily) and give it some special tlc. Try your best to keep bugs off, since it's only one tree, this just means tending to it daily the old fashion way: manually. If this tree still ends up dropping fruit just like the others then I would be shocked tbh... and can't help you. Good luck!

  • I will try this. Does it like sandy or heavy clay? What about other climatic nuances, like humidity and the need (or no need) of winter chill or frost? I have seen one at higher elevation (with frequent frost in winter) which holds an abundance of fruit without dropping. Dec 6, 2019 at 18:30
  • You are in the right zone. The margarita likes well draining soil. The tree is apparently known to be able to survive down to 17°F (-8°C) but it would rather live in a warmer climate like yours. It needs full sun and usually doesn't need to be pruned but in your case I think you should make an exception for testing purposes.
    – Rob
    Dec 6, 2019 at 20:24

It's time to get your soil tested. You tested most of what that is to be tested. The the biggest reason for fruit drop is some sort of nutrient deficiency. I suggest you use a Citrus or Palm Tree fertiliser because they have higher amount of certain micro-nutrient. I think you should test your soil before you go adding more fertiliser to a soil that already has some fertiliser in it. You will not know exactly what the problem is until you get the soil tested. Everything gets back to the soil. Soil is life.

You can start with some of the DIY testing kits, but they do not test micro-nutrients and a list of other things a laboratory soil test will give you.

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