St. Charles Herald-Guide

Environmental conditions influence citrus production

LSU AgCenter News - December 16, 2011

Although this was not a bumper year for oranges, it was certainly an excellent year for satsumas.

The variance in production can be largely attributed to environmental conditions that occurred at the time of flowering. In the early spring of this year when orange trees were flowering, day and night time temperatures were cold.

The colder temperatures produced a heavier air which helped reduce the amount of pollen moving freely through the air. Consequently this condition contributed to a more incomplete pollination of flowers occurring on orange trees.

Satsuma trees, which typically are the last to flower, had warmer day and nighttime temperatures that occurred during flowering. In addition to warmer temperatures, many of the days during flowering were sunny with little cloud cover.

This encouraged a high activity of pollen movement along with a complete pollination occurring from honey bees.

As older citrus trees often bear at a much greater rate than younger, immature trees, backyard growers should not expect an optimum production until trees become mature. This generally is around the 5 to 6 year age.

If production is very good one or more years, most often the cultural practices provided are doing the job and an offset in production the following year should be no cause for alarm. When the tree fails to produce a large quantity of fruit, stress of any kind during flowering can influence a loss of flowers as well an incomplete pollination. The responses of trees not producing properly should be expected in years when stressful environmental conditions occur.

Certainly Louisiana’s weather conditions provide a degree of uncertainty in the spring and can well influence whether citrus trees have a good or poor production year.

(LSU AgCenter)