Read about citrus pruning principles supplied by a UF/IFAS citrus horticulturalist for those growing high-quality citrus.

Pruning is a management practice that is an important concern for those growing high-quality citrus. UF/IFAS citrus horticulturist, Fernando Alferez, shared manual citrus pruning principles during a virtual presentation, according to a Citrus Industry article. See the details below.

Citrus Pruning Principles

Alferez shared that pruning is important to help citrus trees to focus on their energy into growing high-quality citrus; according to the article, extraneous growth in citrus trees can misdirect energy away from producing fruit and that “managing the tree canopy is crucial to producing higher quality fruit and yields.” Citrus pruning principles offered by Alferez during the presentation include:

  • While “a balance of branches in the tree is desirable, emphasis should be put in promoting fruit-bearing branching.”
  • “Varietal differences will dictate the way each variety is pruned for better yield and quality.” Pruning methods include freestyle, dichotomic and traditional.
  • “Vertical branches or flushes are very vigorous with a lot of vegetative growth. Horizontal branches (or up to 45°) produce most of the fruit and most of the quality.”
  • “Weaker branches toward the bottom of the tree tend to produce less fruit and are more susceptible to disease.”
  • In the first year, pruning should be used sparingly; “remove non-productive water sprouts, no more than 10 to 15 percent of the canopy,”
  • In the second year, growers can also prune “vigorous vertical branches.”
  • In the third year, growers should focus on architectural pruning “to build a structure for a solid compact tree.”
  • In the fourth year and after, growers should focus on “ pruning to maintain production.”
  • In the fourth year and after, pruning should be done “during the dry season and, if possible, after harvest once freezing risks have passed.”

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