Satsuma and Tomato Crops

Daniel Gill  |  6/18/2015 12:41:55 AM

Good morning Dan. I'm late e-mailing you about this, but maybe you can provide advice for next year's crops.

Every year there are multiple blooms on most branches of my two 10' satsuma trees. Then all but one or two blooms fall off. I've had over 75 satsumas every year on each tree. This year the trees had many blooms as always, but this time all the blooms fell off both trees except for about five. So, I will have nothing this year. What is causing my trees to lose blooms every year and all the blooms this year? I know at about that time we were getting very heavy rains. Both trees are in good drainage areas - the tree that has produced the best is beside a large oak tree but on the full sun side due to no leaves on the oak on that side. Also for the first time I did have my son fertilize both with citrus fertilizer as you suggested to me earlier this year.

Just after that time of satsuma blooms dropping, I had the same thing happen to 30 tomato plants. They lost all of their first clusters of blooms and turned yellow and dropped off. They are in recycle bins and drain well and have since put out many blooms and now I'm picking many tomatoes. What is up with this bloom loss problem again?

Enjoy your show as always - very informative.

Thank you, Butch


1) Citrus trees always produce far, far more flowers than they could ever hope to ripen as fruit. So, it is normal for most of the flowers to fall off – with a nice crop remaining. So, your trees have behaved normally in the past.

The problem is this year you have almost no crop. There are many reasons that this may happen.

Insect problems are generally obvious – a heavy population of any number of citrus insects could reduce the crop. Again, you would see them all over the foliage if that was the issue (white fly, black fly, mealybug, and others).

Sometimes citrus trees skip a year and then produce well for no apparent reason.

Weather can play a role, such as severe cold over the winter or bad weather during blooming. The excessive rainfall this spring and early summer has been hard on citrus trees.

There are a couple of diseases that are debilitating and will eventually cause a tree to produce less fruit. Citrus greening and citrus canker both do this. Do an Internet search using each of those names and hit the images button. See if your trees show any symptoms of these two diseases.

2) Tomato plants often drop the first cluster of flowers. The plants are often not large enough and well established enough to support the fruit. This is normal and desirable. Setting fruit too early could stunt the plants and reduce the crop. This is not related at all to the citrus trees dropping their flowers.

Dan Gill
Consumer Horticulture Specialist

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