A Delicate Balance- A Play In 3 Acts (apologies to the playwright Edward Albee)

Written by Gordon Clark: H4H Horticultural Consultant

Prologue: Care of newly planted trees requires a certain balance. To grow and prosper, there needs to be a balance between the part above ground and the part below ground.  Trees that put on a lot of growth in one season need decent growing conditions the next season in order to support the stems and leaves. This is the difficulty that PHF is dealing with in their lime orchard.

Act 1: The Beginning: a year and a half ago, the lime trees had poor growth due to a lack of soil fertility. Mucuna a nitrogen fixing cover crop/ground cover was planted in the orchard. It shaded the weeds and provided nitrogen to the trees. 

Act 2: The Result: lots of beautiful new growth and a profusion of flower buds.  Lots of potential for a glorious fruit set

Act 3: The Tragedy: A 6 month drought during the rainy season. The resulting flower drop and no fruit set. Leaves wilting and burning.

Epilogue: It is time to restore the delicate balance to the trees. 15-20% of the branches will need to be thinned out to restore some semblance of balance between roots and shoots. Limes are notoriously thin-skinned so care must be taken to not expose the bark to the sunlight and neither should the ends of the branches be cut as it will cause a profusion of new growth at the ends of the branches. 

Stay tuned for The Delicate Balance II to see how the story ends.

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