Question: Citrus fruit besieged by cochineal does not bear fruit
Hi, my name is Danilo and I write from Salento.
For about 3-4 years I have owned a young lemon tree and a blood orange tree purchased from a local nursery.
The plants are perennially sick because of the mealybug and have never produced fruit even a flower, on the contrary, only the lemon tree initially gave me some but now no longer. I would like to specify that for lemon, most branches have thorns, is this normal? In addition, the plants are in a slightly sunny position, unfortunately (2-3 hours of sunshine a day), and are watered daily during the summer due to the lawn at their feet. As a novice it seems to me that the soil is quite heavy, clayey.
My questions are:
1) Why don't they produce fruit?
2) Are lemon thorns normal?
3) What are the preventive treatments for cochineal, how often and in what period should they be performed?
3) How to cure it now that they are full of it (cochineal), how often and in what period should the treatments be performed?
4) Fertilization? How, when and how often?
I apologize for too many questions but I don't know what to do anymore. I had even considered the idea of cutting everything 80 cm from the base and trying with a new graft starting from scratch, but I turn to you in the hope that your experience will finally solve the problem.
Looking forward to your kind reply, I offer my best regards,
Answer: Citrus fruits besieged by cochineal do not bear fruit
citrus fruits are saplings of Asian origin, widely cultivated for millennia in the Mediterranean area; typically an orchard planted with citrus fruit is positioned in a specific place, that is where all the plants can enjoy a large amount of sunshine every day; pruning is also carried out so that a large part of the foliage can receive direct sunlight. This is because, with little sun, citrus fruits tend not to bloom, and therefore not to bear fruit; this in fact does not only happen for citrus fruits, but for most of the flowering plants. These saplings need a quite humid climate, above all in the warm months of the year, and therefore, even if they endure the drought very well, they need regular watering, from April to September, to be provided only when the soil is dry; it is not necessary to drown the plants, just water them when it is very hot and the rains are scarce or zero. Since we often water them (consider that typically in Sicilian citrus groves citrus fruit are equipped with a drip sprinkler) the soil in which we place the roots of our citrus fruits is very important, because it must be decidedly non-clayey, very light, porous and draining otherwise the water supplied regularly stagnates and favors the development of fungal diseases, rot and more. Fertilizations are carried out in autumn and at the end of winter, with a complex granular fertilizer, specific for citrus, to be spread around the stem of small trees, and every 4-5 months scattered on the ground of shredded lupins, which in addition to providing mineral salts, they also improve the soil mix; in nurseries you often find bags of shredded lupins, specially made for citrus fruits. During the spring vegetative period, foliar fertilizers can also be used, because the foliage of citrus fruits quickly absorbs the mineral salts of these special fertilizers. As for mealybug, it is a fairly difficult insect to eradicate completely and in particular tends to develop in areas with dry air and poor ventilation (both characteristics not particularly suitable for the cultivation of citrus fruits); treatments are done at the end of winter, possibly when there are no flowers on the plants, and white oil is used, activated with a pyrethrum insecticide; in general, a couple of interventions are scheduled, at a distance of about fifteen days, during which the insecticide is sprayed on the whole foliage, and especially on the lower pages of the leaves. Thorns are not such an unusual trait in lemon trees, their presence, and also their size, depend on the variety of lemon you are growing. If, however, they are present only in some branches, check that they do not come from under the graft, in which case they are branches of the rootstock, which must be promptly eliminated.