Citrus plants can be used in many different ways around the home, such as being planted individually, being used as part of a hedge, or being grown in containers. The South Georgia landscape is improved by the addition of these trees, with their natural beauty and ripe fruits. Even though it’s cold, if you take care of the cold-hardy varieties they may still grow successfully in the southern areas of the state. They will grow to a lesser degree in more northern locations.
The most important factor that limits citrus production in these areas is the damage caused by severe winter temperatures. This short history of citrus farming in the United States shows how devastating winter freezes can be.
Historical Background of Citrus in the U.S.
The early Spanish explorers introduced citrus to the continental United States in 1565 when they arrived at Saint Augustine, Florida. A considerable amount of time passed before citrus was introduced to Arizona in 1707 and California in 1769.
This is not the first time that citrus plants have been grown in this area. Small satsuma plantings were developed in the Gulf states as early as the 1890s but they were destroyed by the freezes of 1894-95 and 1899. More planting occurred until a freeze in 1916-17 killed many acres. By the early 1940s, the satsuma that was able to withstand harsh conditions had made a comeback, with some 12,000 acres growing in the Gulf states of Louisiana, Alabama, and northern Florida. However, the freezing temperatures in the two decades after World War II killed most of these plants. The main commercial areas for shrimp are currently on the Gulf Coast of Louisiana and Florida.
Sweet Types of Citrus
The three types of citrus fruits that are sweet are mandarins, sweet oranges, and grapefruit. These citrus trees develop into attractive, medium- to large-size trees. Although all species have been introduced to South Georgia, some have thrived while others have not done as well.
This group of citrus fruits includes those with loose skin, deep color, and strong flavor. They are sometimes referred to as fruits that can easily be peeled. Mandarin oranges are a type of orange that falls into a certain category of fruits. This group includes mandarins, satsumas, tangerines, and tangerine hybrids. The term ‘mandarin’ is used to describe a number of different fruits, depending on where they are grown. ‘Tangerine’ is another term for these fruits. For example, Dancy tangerines are called mandarins in California. A number of tangerine varieties and hybrids require cross-pollination for the best results.
The highest degree of success for growing citrus in Georgia will be achieved with satsumas. They will also be the most satisfied with the results. This type of sweet citrus is more resistant to cold temperatures, can produce crops more consistently over a longer period of time, and doesn’t require as much cold protection as other types.
The satsuma is distinctly different from the mandarin. This variety is self-fruitful, meaning it doesn’t need another variety to pollinate it in order to produce fruit. It is also very cold hardy, meaning it can survive in colder climates, and ripens its fruit earlier than most other varieties, from September to November. The most popular variety of sake is Owari, which is generally available at retail outlets. It is best to eat fruits when they are at their peak quality, which is about two weeks after they are picked. After that, they may become puffy, rough in appearance, and lose flavor and juice content. Silverhill is another good variety. Changsha is seed-propagated. Some have good flavor, but most are very seedy.
One important thing to remember when growing satsumas is that the fruits become ripened and ready to eat when the peel is still green. If you harvest some of the fruits when they are ripe, you can extend the harvesting period by 1-2 weeks.
If you’re looking for a citrus to crop and one that is cold hardy, tangerines are a great option. Satsumas and tangerines are more likely to survive a freeze than grapefruits and sweet oranges.
Both Dancy and Ponkan tangerines are of exceptionally good quality. The fruits of the tree may not develop a good flavor before December, so they may be exposed to freezing temperatures before they are ripe. The Ponkan reportedly is less cold-resistant than most mandarins. If the fruit is not picked when ripe, it will lose quality and the rind will puff up. The earlier-ripening tangerines, such as the Clementine (Algerian) tangerine, should be planted where possible. Dancy and Ponkan can pollinate themselves, but Clementine needs to be pollinated by another tangerine or tangerine hybrid. The following tangerine hybrids mature early and would be of interest to the homeowner.
Tangelos are tangerine-grapefruit hybrids that produce loose-skinned, tangerine-like fruits. Orlando is an ideal selection for homeowner use. This plant is able to withstand cold temperatures and produces high-quality fruits that ripen quickly (from October to December). If you want to grow Orlando tangelos, plant them with Dancy, Clementine, or another variety for cross-pollination. Some other early-season tangerine hybrids include Lee, Robinson, Osceola, Nova, and Page. All of these hybrids require cross-pollination for best fruiting.
Oranges can be grown in coastal areas if they are protected from the cold. Hamlin suggested that fruits are desired primarily for juice. Although it can withstand colder temperatures than other sweet orange varieties, it will be severely damaged by hard freezes (temperatures below 20 degrees Fahrenheit). Seedless fruits that ripen early are commercially more viable. Ambersweet is another sweet orange suggested for trial.
The naval orange is recommended for growing seedless fruit that will be eaten fresh. The navel orange is a type of orange that is seedless and ideal for eating fresh. Navel oranges are not as productive as other types of oranges, such as Hamlin. Suggested varieties include Washington, Dream, and Summerfield. All ripen their fruits relatively early (October to December).
Grapefruit should be grown in the same lower coastal area as sweet oranges because it is not very tolerant of cold. There are many different types of grapes to choose from, but the two most common types planted are Marsh (white seedless) and Redblush or Ruby (red seedless). Both types of fruit mentioned produce excellent quality fruit with few to no seeds. For homeowners who want the best fruit quality, Royal and Triumph are the best white seedy varieties. Marsh and Ruby can be harvested as early as late September and October, but their quality gets much better if they stay on the tree until November or December. The Star Ruby grapefruit, released by Texas A&M University, is an outstanding red, seedless grapefruit.
Acid Types of Citrus
Some of the best fruits for homeowners to grow are hardy acid-type fruits. These plants not only look good, but also provide delicious fruits. All are self-fruitful and do not require cross-pollination.
Kumquats are able to tolerate colder temperatures than other acid citrus fruits. They can survive in temperatures as low as 15 to 17 degrees Fahrenheit. Their growth is delayed in the spring, which helps them avoid damage from late frosts. One of the most widely used citrus plants around the home is the kumquat, which develops into an attractive shrub-like tree that bears small orange-like fruit about one inch in diameter. Fruits may be eaten fresh with the peel on, or used in making jellies, marmalade, and candies. There are three main types of kumquats: Nagami, Marumi, and Meiwa. Nagami fruit is long and thin like a pear, with tart pulp; the others are sweeter and rounder. Meiwa is a popular type of tree for home planting because it produces nearly-round, sweet fruit.
This small, round fruit looks somewhat like a tangerine and has a very acidic inner flesh. It is attractive as an indoor or container plant. Fruits that are yellow to orange in color can be used as a substitutes for limes and lemons. Calamondins have good cold hardiness (low 20s).
Meyer lemons are some of the most cold-hardy lemons, and are good for home planting. They produce large crops of juicy lemons that are practically seedless. The ripening period for fruit usually lasts several months and begins in late summer. Many people choose to grow plants from cuttings because they are easy to do and the plants are often healthy. The cold hardiness of the Valencia orange is similar to that of the sweet orange.
The Eustis limequat is a hybrid of a lime and a kumquat, and it can withstand very cold temperatures. It also is a very petite plant, making it visually appealing. It is popular as a container plant. The limequat is a fruit that looks and tastes similar to a lime. It can be used as a replacement for limes in many recipes. Cold hardiness is about equivalent to tangerine (low 20s). There are two types of less popular fish that you might be able to find in stores, Lakeland and Tavares.
All About The Mandarin Tree
Citrus reticulata originates in Asia. A standard mandarin tree will grow to an average of 25 feet at maturity, while semi-dwarf trees will grow between 8 and 10 feet. The Citrus reticulata plant blooms in the spring, develops fruit during the summer, and ripens the fruit in late fall and early winter. Although mandarins are not deciduous, their growth significantly slows down or comes to a complete halt during the winter season.
The leaves of this plant are dark green, ovate to lanceolate in shape, and may have thorns in the axil. The flowers have five white petals and grow in small clusters. The fruit is smaller than a typical orange and is shaped like a pumpkin with flat ends. As the fruit matures, it turns from green to deep orange. The type of fruit produced by a plant depends on the variety of plant and whether or not it is pollinated.
Citrus reticulata is self-fertile. Some commercial orchards will net their trees to prevent pollination in order to produce a seedless crop. Some varieties of grapefruit do not need to be netted. If you want to prevent your fruit tree from producing seeds, covering it in insect netting is a great natural option. This can be especially helpful if the fruit is going to be eaten by young children.
A number of great mandarin orange varieties are available for cultivation. There are many different types of mandarins, but some of the more popular ones that are commercially grown, like Tango and Gold Nugget, can also be grown at home. There are less common varieties of mandarins such as Dancy, Honey, Shasta Gold, and Kishu. The Shiranui mandarin orange is a large variety that is difficult to grow, but the taste is exceptional and the oranges are easy to peel. Satsuma varieties such as Owari, Iwasaki, Okitsu Wase, and Dobashi are great.
The best time to plant orange trees is during the spring and summer months. Avoid planting when temperatures are above 100°F. Plant in a sunny location in well-draining soil. If you choose this option for your trees, it is important to keep in mind that the roots will continue to grow and expand and will need to be transplanted into a larger pot every few years The roots of trees grown in large pots like 10-gallon Air Pots will continue to grow and expand, requiring transplantation into larger pots every few years. Mandarin trees should be planted as grafted trees. The rootstocks of plants can provide resistance to diseases and in some instances, tolerance to frost. When planting grafted trees, do not plant the graft union below ground level. It is best to leave at least 4-5 inches of the rootstock above the soil.
You should only buy trees from a trusted nursery or garden center that follows the local regulations surrounding citrus trees. States that produce citrus fruits like California, Texas, Arizona, and Florida may have movement restrictions on young trees. It is advisable to consult your local Agricultural Extension Office to find out about any restrictions that might exist in your vicinity.
Insect and disease problems are the most common problems faced when growing mandarins, but there are a few things to keep in mind. If a mandarin tree does not get enough sun, it may not produce fruit. Too much stress from heat or lack of water may also make flowers fall off or make fruit drop early. Fruit quality will vary depending on the weather conditions. For example, if it rains a lot or if the winter is warm. The quality of the fruit in any given year is heavily dependent on the weather conditions that season. Things like temperature and rainfall can vary greatly from year to year, which will in turn impact the fruit yield.
Mites are small arachnids that feed on the leaves of mandarin trees. Mites can cause serious damage to mandarin trees if left untreated. There are several species of mites that live off of citrus fruits. The most common mites cause tiny dots or spots on the leaves. Heavy infestations will cause leaf drops. Mites are extremely small and difficult to notice. Usually, the damage is noticed before the mites. To figure out what kind of mite it is, use a hand lens or microscope. The adult mites are small and have eight legs. They like to stay in groups on the bottom side of leaves. Some mites produce webbing while others don’t. Colors range from creamy yellow to dark red. Mites tend to attack weak or stressed trees. The most important way to keep an orange tree healthy is to protect it from mites. A healthy orange tree typically contains a good balance of both pest mites and predatory insects, which helps to keep populations of each under control. You can use horticultural oils and insecticidal soaps to reduce mite populations if they become too high.
Thrips are small yellow to orange insects. They feed on the leaves and flowers of mandarin trees. The feeding damage caused by the insect leaves scars on both the leaves and young fruit. Most thrips don’t cause enough damage to warrant treatment on full-grown trees. In young trees, they may stunt growth. The best way to keep thrips populations under control is to create an environment that promotes beneficial insects. It is not recommended to attempt to control thrips by spraying, as they are very difficult to eliminate in this way. A good option for preventing thrips damage to younger trees is to protect the tree with insect screens until the new growth is no longer tender and attractive to thrips.
You can find soft and armored scales on the twigs and branches of trees. There are several species of scale that come in a range of colors, from yellow to brown to black. Damage does not come directly from the scale. Scales produce large amounts of honeydew, which then leads to the growth of sooty mold. Sooty mold covering the leaves inhibits photosynthesis and leads to leaf drop. Scales are usually controlled with natural predators and parasites. If treatment is necessary, oil sprays are effective.