Abiotic Problems of Citrus in Georgia

Source(s): Randy Drinkard


Citrus experience problems, such as:

  • fruit shedding,
  • leaf drop,
  • fruit splitting,
  • attack from insects and disease.

Fruit Shedding

Natural abscission of flowers and fruits prevents citrus from overproducing. Homeowners frequently become concerned about the excessive shed of young blossoms and fruits in early spring. This is a natural abscission of blossoms and fruits characteristic of all citrus. Another natural fruit shedding occurs in May and June when the fruits are marble sized. Only one or two percent (sometimes less than one percent) of the blossoms are needed for adequate yields.

Leaf Drop

Healthy trees lose large numbers of their leaves which is a natural leaf drop that may be most noticeable in early spring. Citrus leaves live for 18 to 24 months and then begin shedding, with some leaf drop occurring throughout the year. The homeowner should always be alert to other possible causes of leaf shedding, including mite damage, excessive or insufficient soil moisture, cold damage or root diseases.

Fruit Splitting

In late summer (August – September) fruit splitting may occur with certain oranges and tangerines. It usually occurs when a period of fruit growth cessation (associated with moisture stress) is followed by a rapid increase in fruit size as the result of heavy rain. Other than alleviating moisture stress, little can be done about the problem.

Citrus Insect and Disease Control in Georgia

Citrus fruits may be grown successfully in the home garden with little or no control of insects and disease. Fruits produced without pesticide sprays may be very poor in external quality as a result of damage by several mites, insects and fungus diseases. Although these unattractive fruits may have little eye appeal, this external damage usually has no detrimental effect on the internal fruit quality. The appearance of the tree may suffer, but trees are seldom critically damaged by most citrus pests. Natural biological controls will assist in maintaining pests at low population levels.

For those who prefer to spray, three cover sprays during each season should be sufficient. A post-bloom spray for scales, mites and fungal disease, a summer oil for scales and mites and a fall mite spray usually are satisfactory.

Formulating a spray program can be somewhat difficult because of the many factors involved. Government regulations are constantly changing regarding the use of agricultural chemicals. Consult your local County Extension Agent for information on developing a spray program for home citrus trees.


Resource(s): Citrus Fruits for Southern and Coastal Georgia

Reviewer(s):

  • Steve Brady, CEA – Cobb County. The University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.
  • Jennifer Davidson, CEA – Muscogee County. The University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

Center Publication Number: 173

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