When pruning a lemon tree in California, timing is everything. It’s important to understand the correct time of year to begin pruning a lemon tree in order to ensure that it stays healthy and productive. Pruning in the summer months, when the tree has a full flush of growth, can maximize the amount of crops it will produce the following season. But pruning in the wrong season can be dangerous – it can cause the tree to suffer from disease and disorder. Here are the basic steps for when to prune a lemon tree in California.
Step 1- Prune During the Summer Months
During the summer months, lemon trees experience a full flush of new growth, known as “hitting.” Pruning about two weeks after your lemon tree has hit is optimal for encouraging new growth and healthy plant development. Although lemon trees can typically be pruned back up to one-third of their overall size, be sure to exercise caution and never prune more than this, or your tree will likely become stressed. Additionally, when pruning, try to keep the tree’s natural shape intact as much as possible.
Step 2-Generate Healthy Regrowth
When pruning, it is important to use special tools to trim away the unwanted growth. Typically, anvil pruners or loppers should be used to make clean, precise cuts. Also, be sure to properly sterilize any pruning tools before beginning the process in order to avoid potential disease and fungal issues. After pruning, using a wire brush to remove any remaining debris and bark from the base of the plant will help to generate healthy regrowth.
Step 3-Regular Trimming
Recently pruned lemon trees in California can also benefit from regular trimming during the growing season. Removing excess shoots or branches that have become crowded will ensure that the tree maintains a healthy shape and remains productive. Additionally, small branches that are at least a quarter inch thick can be trimmed away to improve air circulation and light penetration throughout the tree’s leaves, which is essential for lemon growth.
Step 4- Diagnose Weak Shoots
It’s also important to remove any weak shoots or fruit trees during the pruning process. Weak shoots tend to lack vigor and health, and often have yellowing or discolored leaves. If left untreated, weak shoots could begin to spread disease and disorder to other parts of the tree. Removing these shoots near the beginning of the pruning process will help to ensure that the tree remains healthy and happy for future growth.
Step 5-Sanitation After Pruning
Sanitation is just as important after pruning as it is during the process. Any leftover branches that have been pruned from the lemon tree should be disposed of in an appropriate area, away from the main tree itself. Additionally, keeping the base and roots of the tree free from weeds and mulch can help to maintain healthy root development during the growing season.
Step 6-Using Fertilizers
Finally, applying a layer of fertilizer to the base of the lemon tree after pruning can help to replenish the plant’s nutrients and provide it with the energy necessary for healthy growth. Be sure to use a fertilizer specifically created for citrus trees, as this will provide the best nourishment for the lemon tree. Additionally, start by applying a light layer of fertilizer and then gradually increase the dosage over time to avoid overwhelming the tree.
Step 7-Check for Disease
Following the pruning process, it’s important to monitor the tree closely for signs of disease or disorders. If a lemon tree exhibits browning of the leaves, yellowing of the fruit, or mold growth, it is likely suffering from some type of disease. If this is the case, it’s important to begin treatment immediately in order to prevent further spread of the disease and minimize any damage to the tree.