Lemon tree with very yellow leaves! Help!

Discussion in 'Organic Gardening' started by idaksmoore, Aug 21, 2009.

  1. idaksmoore

    idaksmoore Member

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    Location:
    Taranaki, New Zealand
    I've got a lemon tree which grows near an apple tree in a garden, which used to be organic 5 years ago. We'd like to keep it organic. The tree has tiny tiny little lemon buds on it and very very very yellow leaves. What can I do to make my tree happy? Will post pictures.
    All help much appreciated as I know NOTHING about lemon trees.
    -Ida
    P.s. tree's growing in full sun in Taranaki, nz.
     
  2. Millet

    Millet Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    It is your tree and you can certainly grow your tree as you please. I will tell you this about citrus. Citrus are VERY HEAVY feeders, requiring a LOT of nutrition to function properly. Therefore it is difficult, but not impossible, to give the required amount of nutrition using strictly organic methods, especially for the amount of potassium that the tree needs. Citrus absorb nutrition in a 5-1-3 ratio, meaning for every 5 parts of nitrogen that the roots absorb, the tree will also take up 1 part phosphorous and 3 parts potassium. Therefore, more nutritional materials supplying both nitrogen and potassium are required in large amounts. There are, of course, some citrus grown as organic trees, almost none commercially, but in every case the crop size is always much reduced. As your trees leaves are yellow, the tree is probably low on nitrogen, but could also possibly be a deficiency of iron, manganese, or magnesium. Further, a citrus tree cannot initially use the fertilizer elements applied by organic materials, they will have to be converted by the soil bio-organism over to the chemical elements (same as conventional elements) before your tree will be able to use them. Even with synthetic fertilizers, which are much stronger per unit than organic fertilizers, a young citrus tree requires to be fertilized 6 times a season. So you can see if you want an organic grown citrus tree, that is healthy and vigorous, and produces a full crop of fruit each year, you will need to apply a an inordinate amount organic material in an effort to achieve all that a citrus tree is capable of providing you and your family. It is certainly possible to grow a worthy citrus tree using strictly organic culture if you are aware of, and capable of, supplying the amount of nutrition your tree deserves. - Millet (1,252-)
     
  3. idaksmoore

    idaksmoore Member

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    Thank you for your informative reply Millet. I will post some pictures of my lemon tree and maybe you could help me a bit more? I'm not completely against going maybe a little non-organic just to get my lovely tree back to health. However I would like to keep it as organic as possible. I've never really been involved in growing fruit trees, so if you could give me a beginner's guide, I'd really appreciate it. I love my lemon tree and don't want the poor thing to suffer!
    My main questions are:
    a. why do you think the leaves are this yellow?
    b. may I prune the leaves which are sticking through the fence? (it's early early spring...more like end of winter)
    c. would it help to dig woodashes into the ground?
    d. epsom salts?

    Thanks again,
    Ida
     

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  4. idaksmoore

    idaksmoore Member

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    P.s. I've read somewhere that woodashes have potassium in them and that manure is full of nitrogen. Does anyone know more about this? I could get some pony poo or cow poo and i've got plenty of wood ashes. Not sure what to do for phospate?
    Our garden is about 1-2km from the west coast of NZ and near an active volcano (which hopefully wont explode) - apparently this gives good soil?
     
  5. Millet

    Millet Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Your tree has more than one deficiency. From looking at your tree, it must not have been taken care of for some time. As in many different types of vegetation, the leaves give symptoms of what might be wrong with the tree. Certain deficiencies show their symptoms on the new leaves, while other deficiencies have symptoms that show up only on the older leaves. In this case, all of the trees leaves, both old and new, are in trouble. For certain your tree is severely deficient in nitrogen, and in iron, and probably other elements as well. A tree the size of your lemon requires 1 pound (454 grams) of pure elemental nitrogen per tree, per year's growing season, and 3/4-lb. (341-grams) of pure elemental potassium per tree, per year's growing season. Cow manure in *GOOD* condition normally contains 0.5 percent nitrogen and 0.5 percent potassium. Therefore, if you wish to feed organically with cow manure, to obtain 1-lb. of pure elemental nitrogen it will require a total of 200 lbs. (90 kg) of cow manure per tree per growing season, applied evenly in six applications equally spread out in time (33-lbs. or 15 kg. each application). You can see using manure becomes a bit much with citrus, as I doubt that each application of manure would be degraded and use up by the tree before the next fertilization would need to be applyed. The manure would probably begin to pile up, one application upon another, long before the last application would be needed. I don't know what the winter temperatures are in your location as far as frosts or freezes. The type of winter temperatures determines when you start fertilizing and when you must stop fertilizing a citrus tree. You can also fertilize with a 6-6-6 or an 8-8-8 conventional fertilizer that CONTAINS TRACE ELEMENTS, applying 454 grams and 302 grams per tree at each of 6 applications equally spaced out during the growing season (this is certainly the action I would recommend with this poor tree). Never apply any type of fertilizer, organic or conventional, directly next to the tree's trunk. I am certainly not sure, but because your tree is located on the northern island, my grues is that your prime growing season would be from about now until possibly February???? As bad of shape that this tree is in, you might also consider a nutrient foliar spray application of trace minerals. Any iron applied cannot be used as a foliar spray on citrus, as iron is toxic to citrus leaves, apply iron as a soil additive only. I certainly would not be doing any pruning at this time. If you desire any further assistance with this tree using conventional methods you might consider posting on the citrus forum, as this forum pertains to organic methods. Citrus like a slight acid soil, so wood ashes would not be a good choice for citrus, as wood ashes tend to raise the pH. The very best of luck to this tree.- Millet (1,252-)
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2009
  6. shahwin

    shahwin Member

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    -------------------------------------------------------------------
    It appears your soil lacks iron Solution Simple

    Just dig a hole 2 inch deep, 3 feet away from the plant, all around. Place a rusty nail

    Thats all

    B. Shah
    Evergreen Gardener

    shahwin at gmail.com
     
  7. candychikita

    candychikita Member

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    where did you hear about giving epsom salts to your plants? just wondering...
     

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