Pruning Satsuma Tree

Daniel Gill  |  10/20/2015 2:58:42 AM

We have a satsuma tree that is about 10-12 years old. The tree needs to be pruned. It has hundreds of satsumas now and we are having trouble keeping the branches and fruit off the ground. When is the best time to prune this tree? Can you recommend someone here in the city? Will pruning stop production of fruit for several years to come?

Thanks for any information you can give.

- Pat B., New Orleans

Having such a large crop that the branches bend down is not unusual. Satsuma trees have been bred and selected to produce large crops. So, producing a large crop should not be looked at as a problem that needs to be corrected – that’s just more satsumas to share.

You do have the option of removing some of the fruit now and throwing it away to relive the weight of the fruit on the branch (this should have been done much earlier, it would be a shame to do it now when the fruit will ripen this month, but you could). Or, support the branches using ropes or stakes or props. What you do not want to have happen is for a large, productive branch to break from the weight. Losing a productive branch means the loss of fruit that branch would have produced in the future.

If you decide to prune some of the very lowest branches – the ones that are dragging on the ground right now – you certainly may do so. This will deprive you of the fruit those branches would have made for you in years to come, but you may consider that worth it. You may prune these branches back to a strongly upward growing side branch closer to the trunk. Or, you may decide to remove the branches entirely back at their point of origin.

The time to do this is late February or March after the coldest part of the winter is past.

Dan Gill
Consumer Horticulture Specialist

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