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Citrus trees are actually evergreen shrubs; retaining the majority of their leaves year-round and should be hedged accordingly.  They grow best in frost-free regions.  In Arizona, this is mainly the Phoenix-Tucson-Yuma triangle.  Citrus trees never go dormant like deciduous trees.  Instead, there is a dramatic slow down of growth during the winter months in the Salt River Valley.  Growth begins in February as the weather warms, slowing again as the hot, dry summer progresses. A second flush appearing in mid-August through October. 

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Although some citrus, mainly lemons and limes, can flower all year long, the majority of flower production occurs in late February through March.  Interestingly, a mature citrus tree can produce hundreds of thousands of blossoms, yet two percent or less of these blossoms result in edible fruit.  This heavy blossom production is natures way of assuring that insects, attracted by the tree's fragrance, pollinate the maximum number of flowers possible.  Depending on the variety, a citrus tree is capable of producing anywhere from 1 to 1000 pounds of fruit per season.  Maximum yields will vary according to variety, weather conditions, cultural care, age of tree, and many other factors.  Fortunately, the fruit from citrus trees doesn't mature in the span of a few weeks as deciduous trees do.  In fact, citrus trees generally hold their fruit for a three to four month time period after they are first considered palatable. 

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Choosing varieties with different periods will ensure fresh citrus for up to nine months a year.  Some experts suggest that citrus fruits do not improve in flavor after they are picked.  Others agree that an acid reduction and color change may occur and lead to a milder flavor if held a few days after they are picked.  All agree that citrus should be allowed to ripen on the tree.  In fact, if the fruit stays longer on the tree, it will get slightly sweeter and less acidic.  Essentially, citrus are fully ripe when they have reached the color, size, and flavor as specified for their type.  Again, with proper care, good cultural practices, and a favorable root stock, a citrus tree is capable of producing fruit in excess of 50 years.  One such example is the original Washington Navel orange brought first from Brazil to Washington D.C., then to California in 1873.  One hundred years later it was still alive and producing fruit.

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The longevity of any citrus tree is dependent on a combination of factors:

bullet[2].gif (297 bytes) Selection of a good quality tree on a favorable rootstock.
bullet[2].gif (297 bytes) Correct planting in a suitable location.
bullet[2].gif (297 bytes) Providing the right amounts of water and fertilizer.
bullet[2].gif (297 bytes) Protecting the trees from diseases, insects, and harsh weather changes.

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Greenfield Citrus Nursery
John P. Babiarz and Debra L. Hodson, Arizona Growers Since 1972
2558 E. Lehi Rd., Mesa, AZ. 85213-9711
(480) 830-8000   FAX: (480) 833-5705
October thru May
Mon-Sat: 7am-5pm    Sun: 10am-4pm

June thru September
Mon-Fri: 6am-4pm    Sat 7am-4pm    Sun: closed