Citrus slow decline is both the name and description of a citrus tree problem. What causes citrus slow decline? Pests called citrus nematodes infest the tree roots. If you grow citrus trees in your home orchard, you may need more information about slow decline of citrus. Read on to learn more about this problem and how to treat citrus slow decline.
What Causes Citrus Slow Decline?
Slow decline of citrus is a major concern to growers, and it should be to you as well if you have a home orchard. Trees with this condition lose vigor and show yellow foliage and small fruit.
The citrus nematode (Tylenchulus semipenetrans) is responsible for this decline. Nematodes are microscopic roundworms that live in soil and plant tissues and feed on plant roots. The citrus nematode was first noted in 1913. Today, it is found in almost every citrus-growing region in the world. It is present in at least half of the orchards in the nation.
Symptoms of Slow Decline of Citrus
How can you tell if your orange or lime tree or other susceptible plant (plants that can be attacked by this pest include citrus, grapes, persimmon, lilacs and olive trees) suffers from slow decline of citrus? Here are a few of the symptoms to look for:
The initial above-ground symptoms of slow decline of citrus include less vigorous trees and slowing growth. You may also see the tree leaves turning yellow and the fruit remaining small and unattractive. In addition, the tree canopies tend to thin out. When you see bare branches exposed on the crown of the tree, you have to start thinking about managing citrus slow decline.
But these are only the above-ground symptoms of a nematode infestation. The attack can happen without any of these symptoms. The underground signs of a citrus nematode infestation are the most important, like poor growth of feeder roots.
Managing Citrus Slow Decline
Managing slow decline used to be accomplished with chemical nematicide treatments. However, these chemicals are not permitted to be used as freely now as a few years ago. If you are wondering how to treat citrus slow decline today, prevention is considered the front-line defense. It’s recommended to do everything you can to prevent these problems.
When you buy a tree, pick one with a nematode resistant rootstock. Buy only plants that are certified to be free of nematode parasites. Another way to start managing citrus slow decline is to use excellent sanitation practices. Be sure that all soil and other products are certified nematode-free.
Also, it helps to rotate with annual crops for a few years before replanting citrus.