As I drive around the Feliciana parishes, I notice that many homeowners have tried their hand at growing citrus. Generally, the Felicianas are deemed too cold for citrus production as we fall in Zone III on the climate zone map. Nevertheless, many homeowners are eager to give citrus a try. Freeze damage is our greatest enemy when growing citrus in this area. When temperatures drop into the teens, it can be fatal to trees. The unusually cold winter we have endured has wreaked havoc on citrus trees in the area, but don’t jump to pruning dead limbs just yet. I recommend you wait until April or May before pruning dead wood from the tree. This will give the tree ample time to sprout and put out new growth. Once the new growth has started, you will be able to more accurately assess the damage done by the freeze. Prune dead wood then.
If you are interested in planting citrus, I recommend sticking with kumquats or satsumas, which are the most cold hardy citrus grown in Louisiana. You have two options with kumquats: Nagami or Meiwa varieties. The Nagami variety is sour and the Meiwa has a sweeter pulp. There are multiple varieties of satsumas on the market, but for our area I recommend the Owari. The Owari variety is the only variety recommended for the southern part of Zone III. It produces a small to medium size seedless fruit with excellent quality and matures from early to mid-November. If you want to take a risk, the Brown’s Select variety is very popular too. I have talked to some folks in the area who have had success with it; however, it is not recommended for our climate zone.
February is the best time to plant citrus trees so I suggest checking with your local nursery or co-op to see what they have in stock. If they don’t have what you want, see if they can order it. The LSU AgCenter has a great citrus guide titled Louisiana Home Citrus Production. Look for it on the AgCenter’s website or stop by your local Extension office and pick one up.
February is also the perfect time to re-evaluate your lawn and garden goals and prepare for the upcoming year. Whether your goal is to maintain a perfect lawn, cultivate flower gardens that rival Versailles, or feed your family from your vegetable garden, everyone must start in the same place: a soil test. Soil is the foundation of your lawn and gardens and must not be forgotten. As plants grow they use nutrients from the soil. After a while your soil may need some of these nutrients replenished with fertilizer. The LSU AgCenter has a soil testing lab and can analyze your soil for nutrient deficiencies.
For the most accurate information, you will need to take soil from multiple spots in your lawn or garden and mix them together. Use a shovel or a soil probe to dig down about two inches into the ground and collect the soil. You can collect soil from 15-20 spots. Once the soil is mixed, take a one quart bag full of the soil mixture to your local Extension office, along with $10 cash, check, or money order. The staff at the office can take care of your soil sample. You should receive results within two weeks and, your local Extension agent can help you interpret them.
Jessie Hoover is a County Agent with the LSU AgCenter covering horticulture in East Feliciana, West Feliciana, St. Helena, and Tangipahoa parishes. For more information on these or related topics contact Jessie at 225-683-3101 or visit www.lsuagcenter.com.