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Do It Yourself | Help Line / BY U.C. MASTER GARDENERS

Stress Relief Minimizes Citrus Split

November 28, 1998

Question: My citrus fruit is splitting. What is causing this, and how can it be prevented?

C.S., Irvine

Answer: Gardeners usually experience splitting of fruits with thin peels such as navel oranges and mandarins, says Peggy Mauk, subtropical horticulture farm advisor at UC Riverside.

Fruit splitting is most likely to occur after the tree is subjected to environmental stress, such as extreme hot weather combined with high winds, or drought stress followed by heavy irrigation, or rain.

A drought-stressed tree

takes water from the fruit. Then, when the tree is watered, the dehydrated fruit swells, causing it to crack.

Cracking can be avoided by irrigating regularly when the fruit is rapidly growing, generally in late summer and fall.

Also make sure to irrigate before hot, dry Santa Ana winds are expected. After the winds subside, irrigate lightly, resuming a normal irrigation schedule after a few days.

Have a problem in your yard? University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) Master Gardeners are here to help. These trained and certified horticultural volunteers are dedicated to extending research-based, scientifically accurate information to the public about home horticulture and pest management. They are involved with a variety of outreach programs, including the UCCE Master Garden hotline, which provides answers to specific questions. You can reach the hotline at (714) 708-1646 or send e-mail to ucmastergardeners Calls and e-mail are picked up daily and are generally returned within two to three days.

A UCCE Master Garden training course begins in January. Applications are being accepted. Call or e-mail the hotline for more information.


University of California Master Gardener Horticultural Hotline. Calls about horticulture and home gardening problems are answered by those who have completed an 18-week training program. (714) 708-1646.

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