After a freeze, it’s possible to reshape citrus

Question: The low temperatures affected the citrus trees. Most of my new growth is on the suckers. Should I remove them or just let the tree be?

Remove any suckers if they come from below or at the “dogleg.” However, you should wait to do any pruning until late January to avoid having to reprune if we have more freezing temperatures.

If you look at the trunk of the tree, you should see a bend or knob in the trunk, or “dogleg,” where the top was budded or grafted on to the rootstock. Anything coming from or below this dogleg should be removed.

If you let this growth develop, it will rob growth from the part of the tree you want to keep and may eventually dwarf or kill the good part of the tree because the rootstock is frequently more vigorous.

If there is nothing alive above the dogleg, remove the tree. If there is growth alive above it, then select growth that you can allow to regrow and reshape the tree.

Allow branches to develop from the trunk at a height you want. This is normally just above the dogleg. The distance these lowest branches are now will be the height they will be 10 years from now.

Try to find limbs to keep that are coming from the trunk going in different directions. Ideally, you will find one limb going north, one south, one east and one west. Remove any unwanted limbs completely from the trunk by cutting them as close to the trunk as possible.

On the limbs coming from the trunk, remove shoots going straight up or straight down. This leaves shoots that spread out in a fan. This allows for better light penetration inside the tree and helps distribute fruit production throughout the canopy rather than just on the perimeter.

Bob Morris is a horticulture expert living in Las Vegas and professor emeritus for the University of Nevada. Visit his blog at


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