Fruit Salad Trees | Remove the first fruits on citrus trees

June 27, 2019

remove the first fruits on a citrus fruit salad tree

Citrus Fruit Salad Trees produce their first fruits between six and 18 months. It sounds counterintuitive, but removing these fruits when they're the size of a pea will allow your tree to use the energy to grow and develop a sturdy framework, which needs to be ahead of any fruit production. Read on for our full guide to removing the first fruits.

When will the first fruits on my citrus tree flower?

When we graft a Fruit Salad Tree, we use pieces of wood from mature trees so there's not much waiting time for fruit to appear.

Because the tree is young, it hasn't had much time to develop and grow the framework that is needed to hold the fruit it's trying to produce, so it's best to take off these first fruits when they are the size of a tiny pea and allow the framework (branches) of all the grafts to develop first.

This is especially important whilst the tree is young, especially the first year because the branches need to become thick and strong to be able to hold the fruit.

Why remove the first fruits at all?

You don't want the tree getting "bogged down" producing fruits. Leave just a couple of pieces of each and choose those pieces closest to the thicker part of the branch, not at the very end of the branch where it's thinner. Keep growth of branches ahead of the fruit production.

citrus fruit salad tree with strong branchwork

How often should one thin the fruit? 

As the tree grows, thin out the amount of fruit to set, always promoting branch growth as well. Again, the framework needs to be ahead of fruit production.

More fruit may be allowed to set on any faster-growing grafts, as that will slow down the growth of branches. However, always reduce fruits on any slower growing grafts as this allows more energy to go into the growth of the branches, don't slow it down further by allowing fruit production.
Be patient and keep each of the grafts growing at a similar rate, this is most important.

removing fruit on a citrus tree

When should I stop removing the fruit?

Once the tree has reached its full height and the branches are strong, you will no longer need to remove fruit. You'll probably have to watch that each graft is strong enough to hold all the fruit it produces. Often some thinning out of fruit is advisable so the weight of the fruit doesn't break branching. Every season allow the increase in fruit production.

Our fast fruiting trees can be grown in the ground, or in pots on your balcony. For more information on growing your tree in a pot, read our detailed guide here. For information on planting your Fruit Salad Tree read our step by step guide here, and for planting your tree in clay soil, watch Sue's informative video in our article on planting in clay soil here.

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