Training, pruning, and thinning citrus
Young citrus will not require extensive pruning. They will, however, often produce very vigorous
shoots that give the tree a wild appearance. These shoots may be pruned back a bit to give a more
refined appearance. Be sure to prune off any suckers that arise below the graft or bud union.
Fruit thinning is not usually required. After petal fall, the young fruit undergo rapid cell division.
It is not uncommon for many small pea-sized fruit to drop about 1 month after bloom. Later in spring
and early summer, larger golf ball-size fruit may drop if conditions that limit growth such as
excess heat, lack of soil moisture, or adverse weather exist.
For a large fruiting area, citrus should be trained to be a full skirted tree with the foliage
canopy extending almost to the soil line. Citrus can also be grown as a sheared hedge or informal
Pruning is not required to keep citrus productive or attractive. You can, however, prune the branches
up higher to make it easier to get under the tree. Try to keep the center somewhat open by removing
If you do prune, the ideal time is just prior to bloom or just after fruit set so that the tree
can adjust its fruit load during the June drop. Minor pruning can be done at any time, but avoid
pruning, which can stimulate excessive tender growth that is likely to be injured by frost. Protect
any exposed branches after pruning from sunburn by painting with a 50:50 white interior latex
paint and water mixture.