In the Garden:
Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
June, 2004
Regional Report

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1431

These luscious nectarines should have been thinned so they could fully develop without the potential for rot where they touch.

Summer Fruit Trees

Thin fruits on trees and vines to what you realistically expect to consume. You want to encourage the tree to produce fewer but larger individual fruits, rather than many tiny ones. Thin tree fruits to opposite sides of branches for balanced and more complete development with less strain on trees, especially on those bearing fruit for the first or second time. Leave at least 3 inches between apricots and plums, and 5 inches between peaches, nectarines, pears, and apples.

Keeping the Birds Off
Put netting on trees two or three weeks before the fruit begins to ripen to discourage birds from making a habit of visiting the tree. (You know they decide the fruit's ripe the very day before you do, so they get them first!) Tie loose ends of the netting so birds don't get trapped inside.

Paint tree trunks with a light-colored, indoor latex paint to prevent sunburn damage, which then invites borers and fungus infections. Use an inexpensive brand, or thin down a more expensive one to a solution of half water and half paint.

Pruning
Finish trimming citrus trees. Fruit is produced on new wood, so remove entire branches (thinning) rather than shortening them (heading back). To redirect branches, trim them to a leaf pointing in the direction you want new growth to go.

Watering and Fertilizing
Keep citrus and avocados well-watered -- deeply every two or three weeks -- and mulched with a 3-inch-thick layer to maintain uniformly cool temperatures. They are more tender than other fruit trees and cannot withstand the stress of alternate moisture and dryness. Citrus roots grow beyond the tree's dripline, so give it a larger basin area.

Peach brown rot may result from overwatering close to harvest, so irrigate trees deeply but less frequently.

Feed fruit trees approximately every three weeks during their growing season with a half or quarter dose of fertilizer to encourage them to produce fruit and grow strongly for next year's crop.


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