We bought this tree and planted it Sept 2007 from The Edible Nursery. It is in our yard and has been kept clear of grass 3 feet out from base and is about 5 feet tall now. Sunnyland Citrus Food 6-4-6 was used Sept, Feb, Apr. 6-4-6. Milorganite every mo 6-2-0, Sunnyland Bloom Feb only 2-10-10. There is no mulch just bare ground 3 feet out. We have kept our yard weed and feed back from the tree 10 feet. In March the leaf minors started. We were told to spray with Neem or melathine. We have only used Neem. Also we have used insecticidal soap sprays alternated with the Neem later in a week. The leafs also showed a cotton web thick matter in the folds. Also had leaves to curl up or fold. Then the start of yellow veins appeared. Leaf drop has been going on steadily for two weeks now. Finally this week we were told the Epso Grow(I assume this is epson salts) was not just for lemons and limes as shown on the instruction sheet. We had mistakenly misunderstood and never used epson salt. This was started last week. The horticultural advisor said we were using the Neem too often. My husband was spraying at the sight of new leafs with leaf minors attacking before they could even grow to any size regardless of the fact we had sprayed the underneath and overtop and down every spray time of the older foilage and was doing so up to three times in a month total with appearance of new leaf problem. We were told we were doing this too often regardless of new leafs having the leaf minors and should not spray that often. We do have reclaim water. We have had a drought up until two weeks ago and have watered yard twice a week. The tree is in direct line of the sprinkler approx out 8 feet from the sprayer. At this point all we know to do is to take a sample of our lawn dirt, 2 cups, from about 3 feet out from the tree. Also a bottle of reclaim water for testing. Has our ponkan tangerine fertilizer been leached by the sprinkler system? Is the absence of epson salts another severe error? Because of not being able to get this problem taken care of, we have decided not to buy a second tangerine tree. Please give us advice for the above problems so we can begin the correct procedures. Thank you.
I also spray oil on new growth to discourage miners and I spray as often as every 4-5 days. Oil spray will not kill miners, but the adult moth does not like to lay eggs on oily leaves, so you have to spray it pretty often on new growth to keep an oily coating on new leaves. However, oil spray can damage your tree if you spray it in the heat of the day. I have even had damage spraying after 5 pm when the sun was still out--it is best to spray when the temp is below 85F --very late in the evening or very early in the morning.
As for the watering, that could be a problem--I do not water my Ponkan more than once a week and then only during the period from bloom thru June. It would be best to keep the sprinkler off the tree and water less often. Established inground citrus trees should rarely need additional water. The watering I do between bloom and June is to maintain a higher fruit set and reduce June Drop.
As for fertilizer, I use a balanced fertilizer like 8-8-8 with trace minerals and I fertilize the first of every month from Feb to Sep.
You can fertilize an older established tree less often, but our sandy soil does not retain nutrients or minerals very well, so I fertilize more often.
What is the pH of your soil? Citrus prefer 6-6.5--high pH can lead to nutrient (Mineral) deficiencies.
Next week we are taking our soil for testing. We have been spraying with Neem or the other after 6PM however I can almost say it is still hot. We did not take that into consideration. The sun was sitting by the time we sprayed but still in 90 degrees range We will start spraying early in the morning. The sun is already on the tree by that time, however the temp should be better. I assume this is better regardless?? The watering may be the problem however, in the beginning we had no leaf drop however with watering. This leaf drop just started in the last couple of weeks. Most of the times the yard is watered 30 min each zone up until May. Then we go to 45 min May 1. You did not mention epson salts or answer the question concerning it in my post. Do you use epson salts? We will start fertilizing as you said. It is good to know about using the 8-8-8. Will get back to you about the ph of soil after it is tested. There will be a two week delay before we have an answer I understand from the county office.
Last edited by Helen M; July 2nd, 2008 at 08:45 AM.
Reason: Noticed spray name not included.
Citrus leafminer does little harm to a citrus tree, other than aesthetic. Almost no commercial citrus grower, even bothers to spray anything to control this pest. For a home owner, I can see that the aesthetic value would have some merit. Epsom Salts can be added to the regular fertilization schedule, but it is unwise to just apply this and that in the hope of correcting some unknown problem. Doing so generally, causes more problems then it ever solves. The symptom for magnesium deficiency is not yellow leaf veins. My guess your soil test will show a deficiency in nitrogen. Soil test are OK, but leaf tissue test provide a much better analysis of what is going on in a tree. As you are a Florida resident, you should purchase the 41 page booklet "Florida - Your Dooryard Citrus Guide" written expressly for the care of home grown citrus trees, by Jim Ferguson, and published by the University of Florida. You local extension agent might be able to supply you with a book, or certainly the University of Florida. Lastly, it is dangerous to apply a weed and feed fertilizer, when you have citrus or other trees growing in the yard. The white mass in the folds and crevices could be mealy bug, or one of the scales such as cottony cushion or snow scale. You can read about these pest on the Internet. - Millet
Excess watering does not kill the tree directly, it supports conditions that cause root rot--then when the tree looses a significant portion of it's roots it behaves like it is not getting enough water (because it can't take it up through dead roots).
As for fertilizer and magnesium, for my inground trees I use a fertilizer with trace minerals including magnesium--I think it is about 2%.
There is slow release fertilizer at the big box stores called Shake and Feed that has a weed killer called Trifluralin--it is safe for use on citrus, but it is a pre-emergent, meaning it will keep weeds from sprouting but will not kill grass that is creaping in or weeds that have already sprouted.
By the way, when Millet says that leaf miners do no harm, I believe he is referring to studies on the effect of miners on productivity. In those studies they did not find any significant reduction in the production of trees that were treated to prevent miners and trees that were not treated.
That does not mean that there was no reduction in productivity, it just means that the difference in the average productivity in the two groups was not more than twice the variability in productivity of individual trees (95% confidence level).
I have not read the actual scientific paper, but I would guess that the difference would have had to be at least 10% but maybe as much as 15 to 20% to be considered significant.
Skeet, thanks for the links, I found them interesting. I do wish, however, that the study described in the first link, would have given the actual percentages (numbers) of fruit production decreases caused by leafminers, instead of just using the word significant. The word "significant" can mean almost anything across the board, especially when the study authors withhold the actual numbers from publication. However, you write that Millet said "miners do no harm", what Millet actually wrote is "that leafminers do little harm. I do believe, that 99 percent of spray for leafminers by homeowners, is because they want their trees to look nice, and not because they fear a crop loss. To a homeowner the looks of a tree has more importance than it does to a grower. If a crop loss from leafminers was "significant" you can bet your last dollar that the commercial citrus industry would be spraying for leafminers at each flushing period. The second link, I don't believe really deserves all that much attention, however, I did add it to my journal. Thanks again for the links. - Millet
Last edited by Millet; July 2nd, 2008 at 10:31 PM.
Thanks to all of you for your answers. I will get back to you on the soil test. Now about milorganite. The Edible Nursery literature that was given to us when we bought the ponkan tangerine tree instructed using it every month for the first year. Therefore, since we bought it early Fall 2007, we do not have much further to go in our first year. However, the employee of the state did make this comment to me. The milorganite 6-2-0 that we have been applying every month, possibly according to an article she found online, suggests that this item should NOT be used on edible plants or trees. Therefore, she said only apply it once a year and to discontinue further use of the monthly application. I do not know if any of you have been using this. If so, that is the instructions she gave me on use of it. Yes, one of you are correct. Since this tree is in our yard, we are concerned about its appearance. But we are also concerned as to the fruit it will have. I doubt we will have much this first year. I did tell my husband this when he started this adventure. Years ago I planted a pink grapefruit and a hamblin orange tree in a front yard. I worried myself half to death trying to do all I was suppose to do for two or three years. I was always spraying, fertilizing and on and on. Sometime many years ago in Daytona we had a very cold front storm with snow flurries that hit in the night. Our lawn sprinkler had given us a winter wonderland in the wee early hours as it ran. We had a lawn of ice and ice hanging off a evergreen tree. Yes, the two fruit trees were frozen below the graft line. I was sad but relieved. Out they came. Trees in a front yard of a home can be a headache when you worry yourself half to death as to how they look. Our ponkan is in the side yard, but I did warn my husband this was the route we would take with a fruit tree. Headaches. About as bad as the 14 rose plants I had years ago with black spot. I do hope it makes it. Neighbors behind us across the pond have trees that are never touched as far as I know. Last winter one was loaded to the point of nearly collapsing. I am most certain it is a tangerine. The last of those fell to the ground and rotted last week. A disgrace that someone was not asked to take them off the trees to at least take to the shelter for homeless people. My husband said, "If this does not take the cake!" I smiled and went on without saying a word to him. I warned him it would be an aggravation caring for his tree.
Thanks for all your help, Millett and Skitterbug. I understand a lot more now. We probably are going to go in the next two weeks to the state office for the soil and reclaim wtr deal. I have a problem with a foot that I jammed which resulted in an injured foot. The state office is at the location of the farmers market. Naturally I want to be able to walk. Also my husband put the epson salts on before my communication with state and you. We are going to try and let all settle down before we take the soil in and hopefully I can walk better by then also. Happy July 4th!!!!
The Epsom Salt is not likely to hurt your tree, it is not highly soluble and Mg is necessary for plant growth--it forms the center of the chlorophyll molecule.
There is another product that works well for control of leaf miners, the pesticide spinosad, it has very low human toxicity and is not very persistient. I use it especially when it is too hot to spray with oil spray and I have a new flush starting. The one I use is sold by Fertilome as Bagworm, Borer and Miner spray.
I would keep the sprinkler off the tree and only water if it looks like it really needs it during a drought--except during the spring if you want to reduce fruit drop--then only once a week.
I think my husband has just about killed the tree. I went out this morning and noticed for the first time all the new limbs at the tip top are wilting and turning brown about 4 inches down. I would say the two cups of epson salts did it. I told him nicely when it dies, no more. We can not get the sprinkler from it unless we put a shield up. We have the inground type and it sprays out there twice a week. Anyhow, this is the leave alone stage now. It may make it and may not. He can not leave it alone for the leaf minors. We never did know why the leaves turned yellow and dropped off. That brought on the extra fertilizing and I would say it is in a rough time now from burnt feet. It looked better with leaf minors and yellow veins and thick with leafs. I would say I can see through with no trouble now. Most of leafs have dropped I would say at least 2/3. He just read your message and we will hold our breath and then look for your spray for the leaf minors. Sounds a little more gently type. Thanks for the help by the way once again. Certainly appreciate it.
Helen M. Your tree has been in the ground for less than a year, about 5 feet tall. I see one of two ways.
1) Either wait and watch your tree. Maybe it will make a come back, maybe not.
2) Dig it up, being careful not to hurt the root system, flush the old soil away from the root mass by soaking in a larger container using fresh water and gently move the tree up and down until the soil has been removed. Change out the water and soak the root system for about an hour. Replant your tree in a container just a bit larger than the root mass. A 5 Gal. container should work. The container should have a number of drainage holes on the bottom, Use a mix of Miracle-Gro potting mix and Perlite 50/50 don't plant deep, water well and keep shaded. And keep the container elevated so the water drains freely.
This past spring I had a sick citrus that I was losing (Container) I got it going this way and is recovering 100% as of today. The tree is in the greenhouse this is a photo.
Your tree has been planted in the ground for less than a year and is about 5 feet tall, I would remove it from the ground being careful not to damage the root system any more than needed, Soak the tree in fresh water for an hour or so, replant in a 5Gal. container using a 50/50 mix of Perilite and Miracle-Gro potting soil water well and keep in shaded area.
I would leave the tree be, and it will probably recover on it's own. I have found no production loss because of CLM. My tree produces more fruit each year. This Ponkan has been in the ground for 3 years now & thrives. I fertilize it three times a year with Vigoro citrus fertilizer (One three lb. bag every time). Stop putting so many different chemicals on it & just let it be. Don't water it & let it do it's thing. You will be surprised...