I'm an 89 yr young Ohio resident, here in Sun City for 4 months. We have a tangerine tree & a grapefruit tree. I have been trying to pick the fruit but must cut away the dead twigs in order to get my picker to the fruit. Still very difficult in areas where there are lots of branches. I read on the internet to cut any water sprouts from the tangerine tree. What I thought might be water sprouts are getting tiny white buds. Do water sprouts bare fruit? What about all the tiny shoots coming from all the branches - thousands of them? Do I leave them alone or brush them off? I would love to watch a professional for a few minutes but don't know who to contact. A lot of the tangerines are still green but because the buds are already forming do I go ahead & pick the greenish ones so as not to disturb the flowers later on? Thanks for your help. Sorry I could not find the answers on the internet. Fran Hilsmeier [email protected] 440-668-0817
Certified GKH Gardening Expert
Typically the water sprouts will not bare fruit. These will be suckers at the base of the tree. Now as far as removing branches. I would recommend taking out anything that touches, and crosses other branches. This should leave you with a manageable number of main branches, instead of a tangled mess. It is typical for citrus to flower and fruit way more than it can support on the tree, but this is normal, and most will fall off naturally. The most I would do after you shape the tree and cut anything growing from the base, that is not the main trunk(s) would be to cut a few inches of each main branch at the tip. This will force it to develop better quality fruit instead of many smaller, or unripe fruit.
The small growth will clear itself if it is not suited for bearing fruit. There is no need to worry about these small branches.
Now, as for when to pick them... Citrus can take about 9 months to ripen. Color and size is, unfortunately, not an indicator of ripeness. I would mark on a calendar the nine month mark from pollination, or swelling. Then you can go out and sample a few until they are ripe to your liking. They will not ripen further off of the tree, so it is important to pick them ripe.