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Juiceless lemons

OUR lemons grow to a lovely size, but the skin is thick and there is no juice - all the lemon is dried up inside. We have them growing in different areas, feed them citrus food and Epsom salts, if necessary, water them and they are covered with bloom and fruit, but produce no juice. Please help.


IN most parts of the country where citrus can be grown the answer to this problem would most likely be lack of water during fruit formation. But it sounds as if you have been looking after your trees well, with adequate watering and feeding. As Christchurch is a relatively cold area for citrus, the problem is probably caused by frost affecting the fruit as it ripens. It sounds an odd thing to happen, but frost can cause citrus fruit to dry up, even though there may be no other obvious symptoms of cold damage. Some lemon varieties are more susceptible than others, with 'Meyer' being more cold-tolerant than most.

The best thing to do is dress your trees up for the winter. Put three or four stakes into the ground around the tree with some shade cloth or windbreak material to provide protection from chilling winds. Make sure the windbreak is around the same height as the tree for best effect.

On extra cold nights, when frost is likely, cover the trees with frost cloth - it's relatively cheap at most garden centres. A double or triple layer is more effective than a single one, as is bunching it up. Remember to remove the frost cloth in the morning, so the tree still gets plenty of sun. I know this all sounds like a bit of a chore, but with luck you should get nice juicy lemons.

Weekend Gardener, Issue 148, 2004, Page 26

Reproduced with permission from the former Weekend Gardener magazine. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the RNZIH.

Andrew Maloy Weekend Gardener

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