How to Prune Citrus Trees for Maximum Yield

by Alex Kountry
Updated on

Learn how to prune citrus trees for maximum yield with these expert tips.

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]Pruning citrus trees is a critical part of maintaining healthy trees and maximizing fruit production. Although it may seem drastic to cut away large branches, pruning is actually beneficial for the tree. Pruning encourages new growth, which means more leaves to produce food for the tree and more flowers to produce fruit. Citrus trees should be pruned every year, and there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure proper pruning.

First, you will need the proper tools. For small trees, a sharp pair of pruning shears will suffice. For larger trees, you may need a saw or pruning loppers. It is also helpful to have a ladder or step stool so that you can reach the higher branches.

When to Prune
The best time to prune citrus trees is in late winter or early spring, before the tree begins putting out new growth. This way, you can shape the tree before it starts producing leaves and flowers.

How to Prune
When you start pruning, always cut back dead or diseased branches first. These areas of the tree are not productive and can actually harm the rest of the tree if left unchecked. Then, remove any crossing or rubbing branches so that the remaining branches have room to grow. Finally, thin out the canopy of the tree by removing some of the branches near the center of the tree. This will allow more light and air to reach the inner parts of the tree, which will encourage new growth.

After you have finished pruning, be sure to disinfect your tools with alcohol or bleach to prevent spreading diseases from one plant to another

The Benefits of Pruning

Pruning is an important horticultural practice that helps to maintain the health and vigor of citrus trees. Pruning also helps to improve the quality and quantity of fruit production. In this article, we will discuss the benefits of pruning and how to prune citrus trees for maximum yield.

Pruning Increases Air Circulation

Pruning citrus trees helps to increase air circulation throughout the canopy. This is important because it helps to reduce the risk of fungal diseases and insect infestations developing. It also helps the tree to produce fruit more evenly, as the flowers and fruits will be better distributed throughout the branches.

Pruning also helps to keep the tree’s growth in check. If left unpruned, citrus trees can quickly become too large for their space, leading to problems with fruit production and an increased risk of structural damage.

Pruning Reduces the Risk of Disease

Pruning citrus trees not only keeps them looking tidy, it also plays an important role in preventing disease. Removing diseased or dead branches helps to reduce the spread of disease, and pruning also provides an opportunity to remove infected leaves and fruit. In addition, pruning can help to improve air circulation within the tree, which also helps to reduce the risk of disease.

Pruning Encourages More Fruit Production

Pruning citrus trees can seem like a lot of work, but the rewards are well worth the effort. Pruning not only keeps your tree healthy and looking its best, but it also encourages more fruit production.

There are two main reasons for this. First, pruning removes any dead or diseased wood from the tree. This allows the tree to focus its energy on producing new growth and fruit. Second, pruning helps the tree to direct its energy into producing fruit rather than leaves.

The best time to prune citrus trees is in late winter or early spring, before the tree starts to produce new growth. If you wait until later in the season, you run the risk of damaging new growth or removing potential fruit.

When pruning, always use clean sharp tools and make sure to disinfect them between cuts. This will help to prevent the spread of disease. Make sure to remove any suckers that are growing from the roots or trunk of the tree. These will compete with the main plant for nutrients and water and will produce little or no fruit.

Start by removing any dead or diseased wood from the tree. Then, cut back any branches that are growing outward instead of downward. These “Water Sprouts” take away energy from the main plant and can produce weak fruit. Finally, thin out crowded branches to allow more light and air circulation within the canopy. This will help to prevent fungal diseases from developing

The Right Time to Prune

Citrus trees are generally pruned in late winter or early spring, before new growth begins. This ensures that the wounds heal quickly and the trees are able to put all their energy into new growth. Winter pruning also helps to increase the cold hardiness of the trees.

Summer Pruning

Summer pruning is conducted to remove any weak, diseased, or crossing branches. It also helps to thin out the foliage so that air and sunlight can penetrate to the inner parts of the tree. This type of pruning is typically done in late June or early July, after the Citrus trees have finished blooming and before the new growth begins.

Winter Pruning

Citrus trees are generally pruned in the winter, when the trees are dormant. Winter pruning encourages growth in the spring. The amount of pruning you do will depend on how large and overgrown your tree is. If your citrus tree is very large or overgrown, you may need to do some heavy pruning to bring it back into shape.

If your tree is only mildly overgrown, you can simply thin out the canopy by removing some of the branches. This will allow more light and air to reach the center of the tree, which will encourage fruit production. You can also remove any dead or diseased branches, as well as any branches that are rubbing against each other.

When pruning, be sure to use sharp pruning shears and make clean cuts. Avoid damage to the bark by not cutting too close to the trunk of the tree. Also, be sure to disinfect your shears between cuts to avoid spreading disease.

The Tools You’ll Need

Pruning shears
Pole saw

Citrus trees are relatively easy to take care of and prune. With the right tools, you can keep your citrus trees healthy and productive for many years. Here’s a list of the tools you’ll need to prune your citrus trees:

Pruning shears: Pruning shears are the most basic tool you’ll need for pruning citrus trees. They’re great for small, precise cuts on young branches.

Loppers: Loppers are larger than pruning shears and have longer handles. They’re great for reaching higher branches and making bigger cuts.

Pole saw: A pole saw is a long-handled saw with a blade at the end. It’s ideal for cutting branches that are too large to reach with loppers or pruning shears.

Hacksaw: A hacksaw is a hand-held saw with a very sharp blade. It’s perfect for cutting through thick, tough branches.

How to Prune

Pruning is an important part of citrus tree care. It helps to shape the tree, remove diseased or damaged branches, and encourages fruit production. Pruning also helps to keep the tree healthy by allowing sunlight and air to reach the center of the tree.

Remove Dead, Diseased, or Damaged Wood

In order to keep your citrus tree healthy and productive, it is important to remove any dead, diseased, or damaged wood. This will help to ensure that the tree has the necessary energy and resources to put towards producing fruit.

When pruning, always make sure to use clean pruning tools and make cuts at a 45-degree angle just above a healthy bud or branch. Try to avoid leaving any stubs, as these can be counterproductive and actually encourage problems such as disease or decay.

In general, you should aim to remove about one-quarter of the tree’s growth each year. This may seem like a lot, but it will actually help the tree stay vigorous and produce high-quality fruit.

Cut Back Crowded or Overlapping Branches

Before you start pruning, take a close look at your tree and decide which branches need to be removed. If there are any branches that are overcrowded or overlapping, you’ll want to cut those back first. This will help improve air circulation and allow more sunlight to reach the fruit.

Next, look for any dead or damaged branches. These should be removed as well. If you see any branches that are growing in the wrong direction, you can cut those back too.

Once you’ve identified the branches that need to be removed, use a sharp pair of pruning shears to make clean cuts. Make sure to cut each branch at a 45-degree angle, about 6 inches (15 cm) away from the main trunk.

Remove Suckers and Water Sprouts

To keep citrus trees vigorous and productive, you need to prune them regularly. Besides thinning out dense growth and removing weak or damaged branches, you also need to remove suckers and water sprouts.

Suckers are shoots that grow from the roots or trunk of the tree. They’re often more vigorous than the rest of the tree and can steal nutrients and water away from fruit-bearing branches. Water sprouts are similar, but they grow from branches rather than from the trunk or roots.

Both suckers and water sprouts should be removed as soon as you spot them. If left unchecked, they can quickly take over the tree and crowd out fruiting branches.

Here’s how to remove suckers and water sprouts:

1. Cut suckers and water sprouts off at their point of origin using a sharp pair of pruning shears. If they’re small enough, you can also pull them off by hand.

2. Make sure to cut suckers and water sprouts flush with the trunk or branch so that they can’t regrow.

3. Apply a generous amount of stump remover or tree wound dressing to the area where you made your cuts. This will help to prevent disease and decay from setting in.


In conclusion, the best way to prune citrus trees for maximum yield is to thin out the fruit, remove any crossing or rubbing branches, and to open up the center of the tree to improve air circulation. By following these simple tips, you can enjoy a bountiful citrus harvest each and every year.

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About the author

Alex Kountry

Alex Kountry is the founder of HayFarmGuy and has been a backyard farmer for over 10 years. Since then he has decided to write helpful articles that will help you become a better backyard farmer and know what to do. He also loves to play tennis and read books


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