Orange trees will naturally drop excessive small fruit as it grows in spring. The tree will keep oranges that it can grow fully and drop the excess. Orange trees will grow more flowers and fruit than it can hold and gradually drop the rest. Other causes of fruit drop in orange trees include excessive pruning, hot and dry conditions, not enough fertilizer, frost and pest attack
You can keep your orange tree healthy and hold as much fruit as possible with a few easy tips. A large healthy tree can hold over 100 oranges. This article will explore the best ways to avoid fruit drop and produce a large crop.
Causes of fruit drop in orange trees and solutions
Here are the top causes of fruit drop in orange trees and how you can solve each one. While orange trees will naturally drop excess fruit, other causes can be prevented. Read through and see if any of the top 5 causes of orange fruit drop are affecting your plant at home.
1. Excessive pruning in spring
Excessively pruning orange trees in spring can limit the amount of leaves and size of the orange tree. This means that the tree will have less leaf area to photosynthesize and support the growth of the fruit on the tree.
Excessive pruning can also limit fruit growth overall. If you trim all the ends of the branches where the flowers and fruit will form.
Pruning is important to tidy up your orange tree and allow light in to reach the fruit but take care not to trim too hard. Remove branches that are crossing over and keep the plant pruned to a wine glass shape, tapering towards the top.
2. Hot and dry conditions
If a tree dries out it will drop excess fruit in response. Very hot weather and winds can cause the soil and tree to dry out quickly. If the tree dries out then it will protect itself by dropping fruit and channeling water to the central stems and roots.
To prevent your tree from dropping its fruit during hot, dry weather it is important to deep water the plant before the hot weather arrives. Deep water the tree around the root base using a hose with a sprayer nozzle. Keep the water off the leaves and make sure you water the whole root area.
Mulch the tree with 3 inches of bark mulch or straw to keep the water in for longer and prevent the roots from drying out. Mulch before you water the tree so the mulch is wet and will slowly release the water down to the plant roots throughout the day.
3. Not enough fertilizer
Orange trees need a good balance of nutrients and trace elements to grow well and to keep growing as many fruit as possible. The best thing to do is to prepare the tree throughout the year with the nutrients it needs.
The easiest way is to keep a yearly fertilizing schedule. Feed the orange tree at the start of each season with pelleted chicken manure. Add some trace elements and iron chelates at the start of spring to make sure the orange tree has all the nutrients it needs.
Orange trees will use up a range of nutrients when it produces fruit. Iron and calcium are two important nutrients that will be delivered to your plant following this fertilizing regime. You can replace pelleted chicken manure with a citrus fertilizer and you will give your plant all the nutrients it needs.
Frost damage can cause the tree to drop fruit and flowers reducing your crop. Late frosts in spring can cause small fruit to drop to the ground.
If fruit drop happens early in spring the orange tree can grow more flowers and still produce a large crop. If you know a frost is coming you can protect your fruit by throwing shade cloth or a hessian covering over your tree for the night. Remove the covering in the morning after the sun has come out.
5. Pest attack
Pest attack can cause your orange tree to drop excess fruit onto the ground. Sap sucking insects including stink bugs can suck the sap from below the flower buds and small fruits. This will cause the stem to droop and the fruit will drop to the ground.
Remove stink bugs by squirting them off with the jet setting on your hose. You can also fill a bucket with warm, soapy water and shake the bugs in. Always wear gloves and eye protection to avoid getting any of the smelly excretions from the bugs in your eyes or on your skin.
Repeat this process over the next week and you should be able to capture all of the bugs and save your fruit.
How to grow more oranges sooner
To help your oranges to grow as large and ripen as soon as possible it is important to plant them in full sun. Trim the plant in spring to remove excess leaves and shape the tree in a wine glass shape. This will make sure the oranges growing down the bottom of the tree can get sunlight and will ripen.
The quicker your oranges ripen, the more likely it is that they will avoid pest or weather damage. You can move potted oranges into a full sun position and trim back other trees away from your orange tree to give it more sun.
Why Orange Trees Drop Fruit | Summary
Orange trees will drop fruit due to extreme temperature changes. Excess heat, wind or frost can cause the tree stress and it can drop some or all of its fruit. Water your plant well and fertilize it throughout the year to prepare it for rapid temperature changes. Oranges will naturally drop some of their small fruit as the tree will always grow more than it can grow to maturity.
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I am an accredited practicing dietitian, experienced gardener and a dedicated cook. I love writing and sharing my experience so you can learn from my successes and mistakes.