weather icon Clear

Citrus persnickety especially when young

Question: We have a question about our 5- to 6-year-old navel orange tree. For the past two to three years, we left the fruit on the tree until the weatherman said freezing temperatures were coming. But with just cold nights, the fruit seems to dry out. Can we pick the fruit early and let the oranges ripen in the house?

Navel oranges are tricky in Southern Nevada. They have to be planted in just the right microclimate or they will freeze. I forwarded this question to my counterpart in Phoenix, Terry Mikel, for a response.

Navel oranges tend to be a bit persnickety, especially when they are young, no matter the cold, heat or whatever. If you are seeing lots of leaves and small branch damage, then frost will be an issue.

Freezing nights will dry out any citrus fruit. The juice inside freezes, crystals rupture the cell walls, and the juice simply drains out. The problem with citrus: If the fruits aren’t ripe on the tree, they won’t ripen any more off the tree.

There is another possibility. I am hoping the damage is due more to the tree being juvenile and not as much due to freezing damage. If the leaves aren’t hurt by the freeze, then the fruit won’t be, either. As the plant matures, there will be more "metabolism" going on and thus better fruit.

Bob Morris is a professor emeritus in horticulture with the University of Nevada and can be reached at extremehort@aol.com. Visit his blog at xtremehorticulture.blogspot.com.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Bermuda grass can invade lawns when water is scarce

Let’s focus on controlling Bermuda grass this fall. Common Bermuda grass is sometimes called “devil’s grass” by old-timers. All types of Bermuda grass, from common (the weed) to hybrid Bermuda (think golf course), like heat, sunlight and water but can invade when water is scarce and other plants struggle to shade the ground.

Mid-October is best planting time of year

This is the best planting time of the year right now. When planting trees, shade the south and west walls and windows of a home to reduce the cost of summer cooling.

Soil consistency in landscape makes irrigation easier

Whether you add compost to the existing soil at planting or bring in a totally different soil mix, make sure the soil is as consistent as possible throughout the landscape. Making the soil the same when planting makes knowing when to irrigate much easier to figure out and schedule.

Location is all-important when selecting landscape plants

Now is the optimum planting time during the fall and also the time when nurseries begin their fall planting sales. Location is all-important when selecting landscape plants and matching them to their correct landscape microclimate.

Water plants if it’s a hot, bright, windy day

Most of the damage done to plants during high summer temperatures was due to a lack of water. And if there are strong winds, they also use more water. The bottom line, if it’s a hot, bright, windy day, it’s time to water now.

Planting calendar will help when growing vegetables

It is important to select good varieties of vegetables to plant in the fall, and the publications by Dr. Sylvan Wittwer, formerly of Logandale, make some solid, old-fashioned varietal recommendations he has had success growing in this area.

Wait until end of September to plant trees, shrubs, fruit

Planting can occur almost 12 months of the year in our climate, but there are times to plant that are better than other times. For the best times, begin planting most trees, shrubs and fruit around the end of September.

Roses only need water every other day in summer

Roses do not need daily watering, even during the hottest days. If the soil was prepared correctly at planting time and the soil surface covered in wood chips, they should get watered — at the most during the hottest times — every other day.