Glenn, we've seen some pretty cold temps in the last month or two and I've noticed some plant damage. What do I do now? Can these plants be saved?
In general, if something was hit hard by the freezing temperatures, the leaves look dead. We need to wait until new growth begins to see if the plant made it or not. DO NOT PRUNE any frost damage. This will protect the next layers if we do get another freeze. Water the plants well to be sure they are hydrated. On citrus trees, once it begins to send out new growth, you can prune away the dead branches.
We will follow up on this subject in later posts on how to review and deal with different types of plants that may have been damaged by the recent frosts.
Caring for your Citrus in December…
Be prepared to protect citrus from winter frosts.
Cover frost sensitive plants; always remove covering during the day. Do not use plastic. Most citrus fruit will not freeze unless temperatures drop into the mid-20’s or lower for at least a couple of hours. Lemons, limes and other thin-skinned fruit on the upper and outer edges of the tree may be injured at about 28 degrees. Lights can be used to warm the tree. Shine the light on the large limbs or trunk to warm the most mass. Remember the higher the wattage of the bulb, the more heat is produced. Refer to publication AZ1002 Frost Protection for details on frost protection.
Peel color is not a good indicator of maturity or taste in citrus. Give it the taste test. If it is not sweet enough for your liking, leave it on the tree. Up to a point, the longer the fruit is left on the tree the sweeter.
Small fruit size - This may be related to a heavy fruit set or weather. Lack of normal rainfall during the midsummer period can ave a direct influence on fruit size. Citrus fruit growth is always greater as a response to rain vs. a similar amount of irrigation water.