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Looking after avocados and citrus

My husband and I have purchased property with 30 orange trees and 4 avocado trees. We do not know how old they are or anything about them. Is there general care/pruning information?

Citrus trees fruit on the ends of shoots. Often, when the fruit is picked, the side buds of the shoots form new twigs — several to each former single shoot. This makes the outside foliage of the canopy very dense, preventing the light penetrating into the middle, to ripen next year's crop.

You can get over this by picking the fruit with secateurs: instead of pulling the orange off, take a few centimetres of its twig with it, cutting just above a side bud.

Avocados need very little pruning other than a bit of guidance when young and removal of dead or inconvenient branches. They do tend to be very vigorous trees, however, so a good hard chop back every few years is a good idea to rein them in. This will reduce fruiting for a year or more if you are too severe.

A good side dressing of Citrus Fertiliser in the autumn is a good move, for both citrus and avocados: they are gross feeders and fruit quantity and quality will be enhanced. Follow the directions on the packaging.

UnitecAdvice by Dr Dan Blanchon from Unitec's Diploma in Sustainable Horticulture and Bachelor of Resource Management.

Reproduced with permission from NZOOM Home and Garden content,
from the previous website of  TVNZ News

The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the RNZIH

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Last updated: June 27, 2005