Pruning citrus is an important tool which can be used to reduce crop load. Pruning gives the orchardist control over how much of the tree is removed so the amount of crop removed can be tailored to suit seasonal requirements. If a heavy crop is predicted pruning unwanted branches will have many benefits such as:
- increasing fruit size (because of reduction in yield)
- improving light and spray penetration
- reduction in the amount of wind damage
- confining trees to their allotted space allowing easier management and harvest
- increasing the evenness of colour throughout the canopy.
Examine blocks prior to pruning to determine the desired outcome as different blocks will have different pruning requirements.
Pruning should be performed after harvest but prior to flowering where possible. This may not be possible for late harvested varieties which will need to be done as soon after harvest as possible if no loss of current crop is desired. The emphasis should be placed on removing weak or dead branches, crossover limbs, water shoots, or undesirable limbs. See Citrus pruning for further information.
One of the most important benefits of pruning is increased light distribution into the canopy which increases the fruit set inside the canopy where fruit is better protected from sunburn and frost. If pruning is done correctly trees are encouraged to produce consistent crops of good quality fruit.
Hedging during flowering is an effective way of removing excess flowers however it is non-selective so care should be taken as to how much canopy is removed.