Blood oranges not red this year!
I have 3 large, 30 year old blood orange fruit trees. Each year, they bear blood red oranges, most of the time that are sweet. This year, however, the trees are full of fruit and I've just started harvesting them and the meat is no longer red! They are orange! And, they don't seem to have the same flavor is they have in the past. A little bitter... Details: I live in the San Fernando Valley, California. I have not changed watering schedules, feeding or anything else. I started growing geraniums under the trees (in pots) a couple of years ago. What could have caused this big change? I'm very disappointed as I like to give bags of these special oranges to family and friends at Xmas. Any and all input is welcome so I could avoid/change whatever happened for next year's crop. Thank you. Karen von Gunten
Certified GKH Gardening Expert
Karen; If watering is adequate, color and flavor changes are usually due to nutrient deficiencies, particularly mineral balancing, including trace minerals.
If the trees and fruit are important to you and soil testing is available and affordable, that is the best way to get a specific Rx for plant nutrients based on actual deficiencies found. This organization is based on the principles detailed in the book The Intelligent Gardener by Steve Solomon. The co-author is not far from you, in Santa Barbara or Ojai area I think:
For general purpose fertilization when soil analysis is not practical, instead of old school chemical fertilizer, even if a "citrus food", I would recommend and newer generation COF (complete organic fertilizer) that provides a more complete nutrient package as well as soil biology enhancements, beneficial fungi and bacterium. Like this:
Or the top of the line:
Also it is beneficial to apply a 2 to 3 inch layer of compost mulch to the soil surface. Kelp meal and Azomite volcanic minerals add trace elements.
Start soil amendments now and that should help for next year's crop.