By Heather Rhoades
There are few things more disappointing than watching beautiful oranges ripen only to cut into them and find that the oranges are dry and flavorless. The question of why an orange tree produces dry oranges has plagued many home owners who are fortunate enough to be able to grow oranges. There are many reasons for dry orange fruit, and hopefully this article will help you pinpoint the causes of dry oranges on your trees.
Possible Causes of Dry Oranges
Orange fruit drying on the tree is technically referred to as granulation. When oranges are dry, there are many factors that can be responsible.
Over ripened fruit – A common cause of dry orange fruit is when the oranges are left too long on the tree after they are fully ripe.
Underwatering – If a tree receives too little water while in fruit, this can cause dry oranges. Any tree’s, not just an orange tree, basic goal is to survive. If there is too little water to support both the orange tree and the orange fruit, the fruit will suffer.
Too much nitrogen – Too much nitrogen can cause dry orange fruit. This is because nitrogen will encourage rapid growth of foliage at the expense of the fruit. This does not mean that you should eliminate nitrogen from your orange tree’s fertilizing schedule (they need nitrogen to be healthy), but make sure that you have the proper amount of nitrogen and phosphorus.
Weather stress – If your weather is unseasonably warm or unseasonably cold while the orange tree is in fruit, this can be a cause of dry oranges. When a tree is under stress from weather conditions, the fruit will suffer while the tree works to survive the unexpected conditions.
Immature orange tree – Oftentimes, the first year or two that an orange tree produces fruit, the oranges are dry. This is because the orange tree is simply not mature enough to properly produce fruit. It is for this reason that some growers will prune away any fruit that appears the first year an orange tree blooms. This allows the tree to focus on maturing rather than on inferior fruit production.
Poor rootstock selection – Though uncommon, if you find that you have dry orange fruit almost every year, it may be that the rootstock that was used for your tree was a poor choice. Almost all citrus trees are now grafted onto hardier rootstock. But if the rootstock is not a good match, the result can be poor or dry oranges.
Regardless of the causes of dry oranges, you will often find that fruit harvested later in the season will be more affected than orange fruit harvested earlier in the season. In most cases, the reason why an orange tree produced dry oranges will correct itself by the following season.