Citrus > Citrus General Discussion

How do I grow really sweet in-ground citrus in my greenhouse?

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fruitnut1944:
Iíve been eating a lot of store bought citrus lately. The navels have been mediocre to great. One this morning was great at 15.4 brix. Very sweet and juicy.

When I last grew Washington Navel in my greenhouse, they were seldom this good. On average no better than store bought. Which maybe isnít too bad. Most of the store bought are from CA. They have good conditions for navel production.

In my greenhouse the sweetness of stone fruit is greatly enhanced by deficit irrigation. I can hit 25-30 brix on many things. When I first figured that out deficit irrigation for enhanced sweetness wasn't widely known. Now it is. Does that hold up for citrus?

When I lived in CA near the navel orchards I seldom had really good fruit. No better than what I grew in my greenhouse.

Iíve read reports of extremely sweet citrus from unwatered abandoned trees in CA. Is that real? Or do I go the well-watered and heavily fertilized route? What brix is your really good citrus?

sc4001992:
This year was low brix on citrus and loquats
For citrus the sweet oranges and grapefruit (Oroblanco) was only brix of 12.

fruitnut1944:
Thank you for your input. Citrus is low brix compared to stone fruit or mango. But 15 or 16 can taste very sweet and delicious. It's just a question of how to get there.

Anyone else know what brix their citrus produces and have some idea of why?

Oolie:
Deficit watering has worked well for me, I've gotten citrus with soluble solids far in excess of what you can buy in the store. How mature are your trees? I've found 5-7 years is normal for getting good citrus.

I will have to measure with a refractometer. Good store-bought citrus is such a rarity.

fruitnut1944:
5-7 years, yikes. I'm 5-7 years from having good citrus :'( I have heard that before. Which makes it sound like the tree needs a big root system before it can make good fruit. That goes along with the water deficit approach. The tree needs extensive roots in order to withstand deficit water and still function properly. A young citrus tree may just shut down when it gets dry.

With stone fruit the trees don't need to be nearly that old in order to respond positively to a water deficit. By the third year they seem fine with less water. Stone fruit trees aren't too dry as long as their not losing leaves. But at brix levels above 30 the fruit can develop off flavors. In the 25-30 brix range some, like the Honey series nectarines, can develop the best fruit flavors of anything I've ever eaten.

Sweet cherries are the stone fruit where it's easiest to reach 30+ brix. At 25-35 they are way better than store bought cherries. I had some Bings once at 32 brix plus high acid and incredible flavor while still crunchy. No fruit better than that for taste.

Very good to hear that deficit irrigation works for citrus. That at least gives me hope. Maybe I can last that long.

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