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Fertilizing Citrus Trees
When providing nutrition to your citrus trees, it is important to consider both the specific mineral needs of the plant, and soil conditions that affect a plant's ability to take up nutrients.
Mineral Needs of Citrus Trees
Citrus trees, like all trees, require ample amounts of Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium. These nutrients are contained in most fertilizers. But citrus trees also require other nutrients like Magnesium, Boron, Copper and Zinc. These so-called "micronutrients" are generally not available in standard "Lawn and Turf" fertilizers, but are contained in specially formulated, high-quality citrus fertilizers. Slow-release fertilizers are preferable to quick-release formulations.
Mycorrhizal fungi is a beneficial fungus that lives in the root system of most trees. It enables the tree to have more and better access to the available nutrients in the soil. Although the fungus is usually present in a tree's natural environment, it is often lacking in urban soils where trees are transplanted. You can add mycorrhizal fungi to the soil at the time of planting, or even after the tree is established.
Depending on the soil in the local area, it is possible for citrus trees to show signs of iron deficiency. The most common symptoms of iron deficiency are seen on the younger, newly formed leaves, which appear pale green or yellow. When you examine the leave you can see a distinct skeleton pattern on the leaf surface because the veins in the leaf remain green but the soft tissue of the leaf is yellow or pale green. In extreme cases of iron deficiency, the new leaves are all yellow, smaller in size or completely stunted.
Trees often suffer from iron deficiencies, as well as deficiencies of other micronutrients such as copper, zinc and manganese. The deficiencies can occur when the nutrients are depleted in the soil or when the ph level is very alkaline, meaning over a reading of about 7.0. At ph levels over 7.0, trees have a difficult time utilizing key nutrients such as iron. Excessive use of lime or the leaching of lime from gravel, cement and bricks can cause the alkaline soil condition. This is a very common situation where recent construction has occurred or new patio stones have been installed. Alkaline soils are also common in geographical regions where limestone is prevalent and rainfall is low.
It is easy to correct an iron deficiency. Simply place chelated iron tablets in the soil at the tree’s drip-line. The Iron Tablets will slowly release iron and adjust the ph level so that the tree can absorb and utilize the newly replenished iron.
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