Sour lemons

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The lemons on my tree have very thick skins and the fruit is extremely sour. I live in zone 14. The tree had been neglected for at least 5 years and was badly infested with scale, but that is under control now. I thought that it might be a bad variety of lemon, but my local nurseryman looked at one of my lemons and told me that was not the case. He also told me that thick skins and sour fruit go together and are both symptoms of a tree that is starved of minerals. He then sold me and iron, sulfur, manganese, zinc mixture called F.S.T. I am also feeding it Citrus food.
Well I have been tossing down a handful F.S.T. and citrus food once every 6 weeks for about a year now, but the lemons are still horribly sour and the skins are still thick. Much of the roots are under our lawn, so I have been spreading F.S.T. and citrus food on my lawn as well, but it doesn't seem to hurt it. Our soil is heavy clay. It may just be that it takes a very long time for the F.S.T. and citrus food to work its way down, but I was hoping for results by now.
Opinions and suggestions please.
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G Burton wrote:

Remove the grass from the root zone in other words, from the trunk to the drip line. Is the tree getting adequate water?
--

Travis in Shoreline (just North of Seattle) Washington
USDA Zone 8b
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Thanks for your reply.
I don't know where the drip line is. the tree has a radius of about 10 ft, and the grass is about 2 ft from the trunk.
What harm does the grass do? The grass probably isn't much of a factor because the tree is in the corner the grass covers less and less than 25% of the circle beneath it.
I think it is getting plenty of water. The lemons also get almost the size of small grapefruits sometimes. For some reason, it has not been developing fruit high in the tree -- only in the lower half. Is that a sign of insufficient water?
What do you think about what the nurseryman said about a mineral deficiency?
Do you think I might be on the right track, but just too impatient? It seems to me that it might take a long time for the minerals to get down to the roots.

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G Burton wrote:

I don't know anything about lemon trees but lots of trees dislike grass growing over the root zone. The drip line is the edge of the tree and its branches. The root zone is generally thought of as the area from the trunk to the drip line.
Lemons are supposed to be sour.
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Travis in Shoreline (just North of Seattle) Washington
USDA Zone 8b
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Not that sour! They make normal lemons seem like watermellons.

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Travis wrote:

grass
and
As sour the better.

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snipped-for-privacy@comcast.net says... :) I think it is getting plenty of water. The lemons also get almost the :) size of small grapefruits sometimes. For some reason, it has not been :) developing fruit high in the tree -- only in the lower half. Is that a sign :) of insufficient water? :) :) Could the fruit be developing off of limbs from the root stock. Follow the limbs and see if they are originating from below the graph.
--
Lar

to email....get rid of the BUGS
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Good thought. I don't see a graft. The branches that don't bear fruit grow out of the branches that do bear fruit.
says...

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If you have heavy clay, broadcast a generous amount of gypsum throughout the root zone, including where you have grass. (The root zone is the area that would have some shade -- even partial shade -- from the tree if the sun were directly overhead.) Rinse the gypsum into the soil. Both the tree and grass will benefit.
All citrus prefers moist soil that is never soggy. In the ground, it is best to let the top inch or two of the soil dry out before watering again; then water heavily. Feed while the surface is moist and lightly rinse the fertilizer into the soil. Feeding when the soil is dry will result in root burn with the next watering.
If you really want to keep the grass under the tree, aerate the grass. DO NOT merely spike it, which causes compaction. Use a tool that removes plugs of soil.
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David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean
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I have been putting down Gypsom regularly. Maybe I should put down more. I don't think there is such thing as too much gypsom when you have clay soil.
It's also a good suggestion to aerate the soil.
Thanks!

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> The lemons on my tree have very thick skins and the fruit is extremely sour. I live in zone 14. The tree had been neglected for at least 5 years and was badly infested with scale, but that is under control now. I thought that it might be a bad variety of lemon, but my local nurseryman looked at one of my lemons and told me that was not the case. He also told me that thick skins and sour fruit go together and are both symptoms of a tree that is starved of minerals. He then sold me and iron, sulfur, manganese, zinc mixture called F.S.T. I am also feeding it Citrus food. Well I have been tossing down a handful F.S.T. and citrus food once every 6 weeks for about a year now, but the lemons are still horribly sour and the skins are still thick. Much of the roots are under our lawn, so I have been spreading F.S.T. and citrus food on my lawn as well, but it doesn't seem to hurt it. Our soil is heavy clay. It may just be that it takes a very long time for the F.S.T. and citrus food to work its way down, but I was hoping for results by now. Opinions and suggestions please.
Thick skins are often due to too much nitrogen. Could it also be due to shoots from a rough lemon rootstock that have taken over? Olin
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I'm very much a layman at gardening. What is a "rough lemon rootstock"?
How could it be getting too much nitrogen? I just feed it citrus food. Sometime I put nitrogen fertilizer on the lawn, but that is a small portion of the area under the tree.

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Rough lemon rootstock is the stock upon which a named citrus plant is grafted..Like Roses, the root stock can take over the plant so that the original tree that was supposed to be giving you fruit is no longer producing and the *root stock* has taken over. The root stock is tough and hard to kill which is the purpose..your graft may be underneath the soil but it is probably there, producing the crappy fruit that you are now getting. I think lack of the right growing conditions on a named citrus tree would produce small, few fruit but not what you discribe..

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Thank you, Alice. I will take some lemons to another nursery for another opinion.

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----- Original Message ----- From: "G Burton"

Hello Gary,
I mentioned the possibility of too much nitrogen because you fertilize every 6 weeks but we fertilize only 3 times per year (Sunset Zone 13, Feb, May, Aug) which seems to be adequate.
As to the root stock comment, it may not be the problem. But when recovering neglected citrus trees, it is not unusual for the grafted tree to wither away and the agressive root stock to take over . It can be used like reguar lemons. Rough lemon (citronelle) was once a popular rootstock but in our area it was replaced with sour orange which, in turn, is being replaced with others that are more resistant to some fungi, rots and Citrus Tristeza Virus. But we still occasionally rough lemon trees that grew out from a rootstock.
I would probably replace the tree with Lisbon or Eureka. Both are fast growing and will provide plenty of fruit within a few years. Lisbon is very thorny and also very productive. Eureka is less productive and less thorny but it may be the better choice in a residental landscape.
Olin

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Excellent information! Thank you!
The tree went unfertilized for years and the lemons were still very sour then, so I don't think overfertilizing is the problem.
I will investigate tearing it out and replacing it with a Eureka.
No one commented on the possibility of a lack of minerals causing the problem. Since you obviously know a lot about lemon trees, I would particularly appreciate your input on that.

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You might consider a Meyer Lemon which is a sweet lemon mandarin cross, hardy to -5C, Lemonade is another good hardy lemon, not too sour.
Treeman
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there is a variegated Meyer's lemon which has pink flesh. I imagine that's where we get pink lemonade from. They are very sweet.

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I want to thank everyone for helping me. Here is how it turned out.
I took one of my lemons tto someone whose opinions I respect about this stuff, and he assured me that what I have is a Eureka lemon. He confirmed that the original opinion I got about the problem (lack of minerals) was essentially correct, but that I had not gone far enough with the cure (F.S.T.). He told me to essentially tripple the amount I have been using. He also seconded many of the ideas I got from this newsgroup. Then he told me to be patient. He said that sometimes it takes 2 years to fix this problem. Since I was only giving a small dose of F.S.T., my clock hadn't even started yet.
You guys are great!!!!
<DIV><FONT face=Arial size=2>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; The lemons on my tree have very thick skins and the fruit is extremely sour.&nbsp; I live in zone 14.&nbsp; The tree had been neglected for at least 5 years and was badly infested with scale, but that is under control now.&nbsp; I thought that it might be a bad variety of lemon, but my local nurseryman looked at one of my lemons and told me that was not the case.&nbsp; He also told me that thick skins and sour fruit go together and are both symptoms of a tree that is starved of minerals.&nbsp;&nbsp;He then&nbsp;sold me and iron, sulfur, manganese, zinc mixture called F.S.T.&nbsp; I am also feeding it Citrus food.</FONT></DIV> <DIV><FONT face=Arial size=2></FONT>&nbsp;</DIV> <DIV><FONT face=Arial size=2>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Well I have been tossing down a handful F.S.T. and citrus food once every 6 weeks for about a year now,&nbsp;but the lemons are still horribly sour and the skins are still thick.&nbsp; Much of the roots are under our lawn, so I have been spreading F.S.T. and citrus food on my lawn as well, but it doesn't seem to hurt it.&nbsp; Our soil is heavy clay.&nbsp; It may just be that it takes a very long time for the F.S.T. and citrus food to work its way down, but I was hoping for results by now.&nbsp; </FONT></DIV> <DIV><FONT face=Arial size=2></FONT>&nbsp;</DIV> <DIV><FONT face=Arial size=2>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Opinions and suggestions please.</FONT></DIV> <DIV><FONT face=Arial size=2></FONT>&nbsp;</DIV> <DIV><FONT face=Arial size=2>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </FONT></DIV></BLOCKQUOTE></BODY></HTML>
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G Burton wrote:

Please turn off the HTML. Please post in plain text.
Tools----->Options----->Send----->check Plain Text.
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Travis in Shoreline (just North of Seattle) Washington
USDA Zone 8b
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