Orange tree dying

Hello everyone,
I have an old orange tree in northern Florida, about 20 year old I guess, that has been doing badly since last summer. The problem is that the tree is experiencing lots of leaf drop. The leaves become yellow before they drop. I see no obvious signs of pests, such as discoloration. The tree is trying to put out new shoots, but those leaves yellow and fall before too long. The extremities of many of the longer branches are now dead, and I fear that the whole tree is dying.
The tree is mulched with pine needles, as it has been for years. A few years ago, the tree was very robust, with lots of growth and a bumper crop of fruit. I believe a former neighbor applied fertilizer. The tree still has some fruit, but no blooms this spring.
It has been dry this spring, and I have been watering about 1 - 2 times per week. The tree handled dry spells before without any problems.
Does anyone have any ideas? I would hate to lose this tree.
Thanks,
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Hi, I would suspect foot rot. Lose the mulch and stop the extra watering. Prognosis not good but copper fungicide as a drench might help. A call to the local extension service is advisable. HTH -_- how
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snipped-for-privacy@bellsouth.net wrote:

It might be a lack of nutrients. Citrus trees are heavy feeders. They need an acidic mix of nitrogen, iron, and zinc. Use a commercial citrus food; Bandini has it in sacks as small as 5 lbb. However, most citrus food does not contain zinc; you might have to special-order a small sack of zinc sulfate.
Mix about 2 cups of citrus food with 1/4 cup zinc sulfate. (Or mix about 1-1/2 cup ammonium sulfate, 1/2 cup iron sulfate, and 1/4 cup zinc sulfate.) With the soil already moist (never feed when the soil is dry), broadcast this in the root zone, leaving an area 2 ft in radius from the trunk unfed. Sprinkle to start disolving the fertilizer.
If the tree perks up, repeat this feeding monthly during the growing season. If frost is ever a risk in your area, stop feeding about one month before the expected first date of frost; resume feeding in the spring as soon as new growth starts.
--
David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean
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As far as feeders. There are two types of organisms. Autotrophs make their own food. Heterotrophs have to have it made for them. Orange trees are autotrophs. We cannot provide them with food. They actually manufacture food for heterotrophs. What we can do is fertilize which is adding essential elements. The tree absorbs essential elements often from the non-woody absorbing roots which are in the upper 4 inches of soil. When I say elements I mean the 17 essential (known) elements such as iron, magnesium, and so on. That and other elements can be found on the Periodic Table Of Elements. A chart can be found here. http://www.webelements.com /
As far as feeding autotrophs, we just do not do that.
Sincerely, John A. Keslick, Jr. Arborist http://home.ccil.org/~treeman and www.treedictionary.com Beware of so-called tree experts who do not understand tree biology. Storms, fires, floods, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions keep reminding us that we are not the boss.
wrote:

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I would sure get a moisture meter and stop watering if it shows the soil is saturated. If you want a good water meter, the kind used by orchardists, buy a tensionmeter (www.irrometer.com)...they come in different lengths but in general read further down into the soil than the cheapo moisture meters. I have to tell you I had the same problem as you, but with young orange trees, during the very hot summer last year. I kept watering without checking the soil moisture. The trees just got worse instead of better. Eventually I figured it out and stopped watering. Now just this month two of my newest orange trees, 2 months in the ground, were looking very droopy. I had been watching the 12" irrometer I had bought, it was reading 30 and I had read not to water until it read 60-70. But it was located just outside of the dripline and a cheapo moisture meter pushed in close to the tree trunk showed half dry levels. So I gave the trees a good watering and they started perking up next day, and within two days they were visibly perked up (new growth no longer drooping) and the leaves no longer curling (longitudinal curling). It took 3-4 days for the water to reach the irrometer sensor, 12 inches down and 24 inches from the trunk...then it's reading went to 0. So now I have a standard for these small trees (2 ft-3ft high dwarf Washington Navel and Oro Blanco Grapefruit) . Next time the reading gets to 30, if the trees look un-perky, droopy, or leaves curling, I'll know to water. By the way, a week later and the reading is still at 0 and the soil still feels moist. I almost killed my other young oranges last summer, not to mention apple trees, so I won't water until I see the correct reading.
Another thing to do, read this article about using hydrogen peroxide in horticulture, especially the part about supplying oxygen to soil that is saturated with water. That might be a temporary fix for the problem.
http://www.socalplumeriacare.com/Faq7.htm .
Hope some of this helps.
jc

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