Frequently Asked Questions
How big should I dig the hole?
Where should I plant my citrus tree?
Find a location that has good drainage and plenty of sun. Citrus trees don’t like “wet feet” and oftentimes, if they are placed in wet mucky soil, they will not grow much at all, if any. Citrus is an understory tree and can do well in some shade, although being in the sun helps produce more fruit.
How deep should I dig the hole?
We suggest you dig the hole deep enough and large enough that you can work around the roots with your hands when placing the tree in the hole. You want the tree roots to have room to spread out and grow without resistance when the tree is first planted. When you plant, place the tree in the hole with the top of the root ball exposed a little bit above the ground. It is better to have the tree exposed above ground than to have it sunken in the ground. Be sure to watch our mucking in video before planting.
When should I fertilize?
Wait 10 days to 2 weeks before you fertilize the tree.
Can I plant behind pines or pecan trees?
Can I interplant with them? Planting behind pines or pecans does not create any problems. Also, interplanting with them is a good option for citrus as the overhead trees provide even more cold protection.
How do I plan for irrigation?
Only plant what you have the capacity to freeze protect. Use a Maxijet microjet to protect. Use a 180 degree emitter on young trees. Don’t waste water.
When is the time window to plant citrus?
The earliest to plant would be AFTER threat of frost; the latest you could plant would be September, but only if the tree is dormant.
Should I use a Tree T Pee?
There are several products you can use to help protect your tree from cold damage. A tree T pee is one of them. Tree defenders and whole tree wraps are also effective. If you are short on water volume, a tree defender is a very effective way to use smaller amounts of water to protect young trees.
Can you use pond water for microjets?
Yes. You can use pond water, but you must filter it so it doesn't clog up the microjets. Check out the picture of our filter system in our photo gallery. Also, for food safety concerns, you have to test your pond water more often than well water used in irrigation and freeze protection, to make sure there is no bacteria in the water being used on your trees.
How far north can the UGA citrus trees grow without protection?
UGA recommends its citrus is grown in winter-hardiness zone 8b or up to a line across South Georgia between Tifton and Cordele. The UGA varieties also grow very well in pots in any region.
What kind of fertilizeer should I use?
We use 10-10-10 on our trees in the grove, but many others use a granular citrus fertilizer. Both work well. Just be sure you don’t place the fertilizer too close to the tree to burn it. Put the fertilizer on the drip line of the tree. Many commercial growers use fertigation techniques which are very effective in large scale production.
In our nursery we use a 12 month time release fertilizer that works extremely well. You can also use a time release fertilizer on your trees, but we would not suggest you use a 12 month one. Using a time release fertilizer is convenient in that you put out your fertilizer one time for the year and you’re done. Also a time release fertilizer rarely burns a tree if placed too close.
Do I need to add anything besides fertilizer?
In between granular fertilizations, you can use a foliar liquid fertilizer such as 20-20-20. There are several products out there that help stimulate the plant and make the application of foliar ingredients more effective. Call us for our recommendations. Be careful not to burn your tree by putting too much fertilizer. Read your labels.
When will my trees produce fruit?
Some trees produce fruit in their first year. While a little tree bearing fruit is cute, it is not healthy for that tree. Remove the fruit at least the first two years, so the tree can grow strong enough to support fruit. The tree needs the energy to grow itself not the fruit, so leaving fruit on the tree when it is in its infancy stage will slow down its growth. Besides that, juvenile fruit generally doesn’t taste that good, so you’ve wasted energy and produced a not-so-good fruit if you leave it on the tree.
Do you have any hard stop dates for citrus
Stop watering and fertilizing trees August 1st. Let the tree go dormant. Anything you do to encourage growth will cause a delay in its dormancy. Encourage dormancy.
What causes sudden deeath in a tree?
More than likely a problem existed all along, but heat exacerbates root problems. Also too much water can kill a tree quickly. Over watering is the number one cause of such problems.
Do UGA citrus trees require any special care?
The UGA citrus trees are just like all other citrus trees when it comes to care. They require well-drained soil. Do not fertilize late. Do not plant in a low area with no air movement. Watch for and control your pests.
Can I pickup trees or do I have to have them shipped to me?
Yes, you can pick up trees. We will have regular nursery hours starting in March and going through June. You can pick up trees during the regular hours or make an appointment for other times.
What should I do with the roots?
Water the roots in, gradually pulling in the dirt around the roots. Eliminate any air pockets as they will cause the roots to wither away.
What soil types are best for growing citrus?
Citrus trees do not like wet feet so if you have soil that is not easily drained, you may consider bedding it. If you have a hard pan that is just a few inches under the surface, break it up. The main consideration is good drainage.
How should I space my trees?
Let available water and scion/rootstock combination be your guide.
Manage your bearing surface not the number of trees. Don’t crowd the trees to where it makes no economic sense. Don’t be afraid to put your trees closer in the row to prevent wasted space and wasted chemical sprays. Be sure to leave enough space between the rows that when the trees are mature, you can get your tractor down the middle of the row.
Be sure to attend one of our show n' tell events where we discuss everything about rootstock, spacing and scions. You can sign up on our events tab.
What is a good acreage to start with?
We recommend growers start small and then expand after learning the growing steps of citrus. Sometimes growers bite off more than they can chew and find it’s difficult to keep up with the maintenance of citrus. Citrus is much more hands on than other traditional crops. Whereas you don’t need a lot of equipment for citrus, you do need hands on work. An old adage to keep in mind is that 1 acre of citrus work is equivalent to 100 acres of a row crop. Let that sink in before you jump out there as a grower and plant too much acreage to begin with. Start with 5 or 10 acres and see how it goes first.
What are the minimum equipment needs for growing commercial citrus?
You will need a good sprayer for herbicides, a mower for the middles and an air blast sprayer for insecticides once the trees get bigger…year 3 or so.
Where should you establish your lowest limb on your tree?
Somewhere between 24” and 30” will work. Even at 30”, the trees will weep and aim towards the ground. Train your trees. Don’t let sprouts grow. The goal is to grow canopy on trees.
How much water do you recommend for cold protection?
14 gph will work. Some growers put in two lines. One for freeze protection and one for irrigation.
What is the coldest temperature the UGA trees have survived?
In Tifton, GA, in 1984, 8 year old Sweet Frost and Grand Frost mother trees survived 0 degrees F with some limb kill of tender tissue at the end of limbs. In 2014, unprotected trees had no damage from 16F also in Tifton, GA.
Where should I apply the fertilizer?
You should sprinkle the fertilizer around the tree’s drip line.
How often should I fertilize my trees?
We fertilize monthly starting in March and stop in July. After that, NO MORE! The trees need time to harden off after growth and if you continue to fertilize late in the season, the trees will not stop growing in time to harden off, making them susceptible to cold weather damage.
Is there a set spraying schedule?
No, you must watch for pests and spray for them. Different varieties may require different sprays. In Florida, the growers are treating with antibiotics for Greening. That is done on a fairly regular schedule, but at this point, that is not necessary in Georgia. We hope to keep disease at bay in Georgia.
What temperature do you recommend turning on freeze protection?
If you have 26 degrees for 4 hours, you’ve got fruit damage. Be sure you know your typography. It is coldest at the lowest elevation and warmest at the highest elevation. Use the coldest location for when you turn the system on. We turn on our system at 36 degrees. Be sure to check your system prior to actually needing it. That way you know everything will work.
Should I take soil samples?
Yes, take soil samples in the fall (October & November) and make corrections in the spring.
What do I do about all the suckers or sprouts?
Put wraps on your trees to cut down on the number of suckers/sprouts. Wraps block the sun and keep them from sprouting, not 100% but a good percentage of them at least. If you don’t put wraps, make sure you remove the sprouts/suckers from your trees, as they take the energy away from the tree itself.
Should I mulch around the trees?
No. Do not mulch around the trees. Bare ground is better as it makes it easy for fertilizer and water to penetrate the soil..
What do I need to do after the tree is planted?
Stake the tree and give it direction. Remove (cut them off; don’t pull them off) any sprouts below the graft union. Remove all weeds from around the tree. We recommend using a wrap around the tree as well. It gives the tree stability, keeps as many suckers from sprouting, keeps critters from biting the tree, allows you to spray herbicide around the tree without killing the young tree, and provides some freeze protection.
What is the best way to plant a tree?
Rough the roots before you plant. Mud in the tree and make sure you work out the air pockets. Visit our videos page to watch Lindy “muck” in a tree. It’s messy but works so well to give your tree a jump start on life.
What tree varieties should be planted if you are a commercial grower?
Diversify! Don't plant just satsumas. Over 80% of what is planted in Georgia are Satsumas. Many buyers want other varieties such as grapefruit, navels, shiranui, tango, seedless kishu and lemons, which all grow well in Georgia.
How much will my tree produce?
Traditionally planted satsuma trees will produce up to 450 pounds per tree when mature.
Should I use wraps?
We highly recommend you use some sort of tree wrap. We carry the plastic corrugated wraps and suggest you use those. There are other more expensive types of wraps out there, but these are the best in our opinion. Tree wraps serve a number of purposes. They keep down the number of sprouts and suckers. They protect the trunk from herbicides. (Herbicides will kill young trees.) They keep pest from nibbling on the truck of the tree. They give the tree stability in the wind and they offer some freeze protection. If you are a commercial order, we can order these for you ahead of planting time. If you are a homeowner, we can ship one to you when shipping your tree, or if you pick up in person, we have them available in our office for purchase as well.
How important is a wind buffer?
One of the main lowering factors on citrus skin when grading fruit is wind scar. Blemishes from wind lower grading of fruit. Be careful of wind on the northwest side. Cedar trees make really good windbreaks. They also keep disease pressure down. Eucalyptus and cedar trees are good.
Can you use low volume drip?
Yes. But it’s not recommended. It doesn’t put out enough water to freeze protect.
Who should plant the UGA citrus tree?
Anyone who enjoys tangerines, lemons, navels or grapefruit should plant the UGA trees. Dr. Wayne Hanna, UGA, developed them for the homeowner interested in backyard fruit trees. Some people will try to grow them for commercial production.
How much fertilizer should I use?
Use 1/4 cup per year of age of tree. As the tree grows, you will need to gradually increase that amount.
Do my trees have to go dormit?
Yes, they must be dormant to survive the winter months. If your trees are planted in pots where you can move them inside under cover, then dormancy isn’t an issue.
What is the best freeze/frost protection?
Higher density is better for freeze protection. Do not be afraid to run the water even if windy. Let your water availability and rootstock/scion combination be your guide in how close to plant your trees. Know your lowest or coldest locations so not to turn it on too late and so not to turn it off too early. Turn it on at 36 degrees and keep it running until temperature is back above 36 in your coldest locations.
Where do I place the microjets?
Place the microjet sprinkler under the tree on the northwest corner. The object is to save the bud union. The tree will survive if it is placed there. Overhead sprinklers don’t create a little pocket of warmth under tree like microjets do.
What are the cost for maintaining citrus in Georgia?
Maintenance costs are $600-$800 per acre in Georgia.
Is there an organic market?
Absolutely. There are many growers in Georgia who are using organic citrus practices. During the Georgia Citrus Association Conference in February of 2022, there will be a presentation on organic citrus where growers will discuss their options and concerns. Be sure to visit our events page where you can find the information regarding the Conference.