Tuesday, September 25, 2012

How to Get Rid of Scale on Citrus Trees

Meyer Lemon tree buds

I'm slightly ashamed I even have to post about this but I wanted to pass on this helpful advice I was recently given. My poor garden had been quite neglected this past winter but we've done a lot of work recently to resurrect it.

A few weeks ago we were gardening and I was snapping photos with my camera, when I downloaded them I was shocked to realise my Meyer lemon tree was covered with little insect/fungus things...

How to get rid of scale on your lemon or lime citrus tree. Australian chemical advice.
How to get rid of scale on your lemon or lime citrus tree. Australian chemical advice.


I am very lucky as my clever dad is an entomologist and ever so handy to have to ask about random bugs, cockroaches, spiders and garden pests, so I emailed him a photo and asked for help. You know how your parents are always calling with questions about their phone and computer well this is my payback for my dad #itworksbothways. He rang me with an immediate diagnosis and remedy.  

My poor Meyer lemon tree that I have worked so hard to espalier against the fence and generally is beautiful and abundant with fruit had a bad case of hard scale. It also had some sooty mould.


After many years of working in the development and registration of pest control and crop protection chemicals, I think Dad is one of the most qualified people in Australia to give advice. (He has even discovered an insect and had it named after him).  He does have a love of chemicals so sorry but this is not organic gardening here today but a full on chemical emergency remedy.  I usually try to keep my garden as organic as possible but my poor lemon needed major treatment a bit like a cancer patient needed chemotherapy rather than just a  visit to a naturopath.


Meyer Lemon Tree - scale and sooty mould How to get rid of scale on your lemon or lime citrus tree. Australian chemical advice.

What is scale?

Scale are usually noticed in citrus trees by the yellowing of leaves followed by leaf drop. They suck the fruit trees' sap and excrete a sticky “honeydew” on the leaves that attracts ant so you may notice them on your tree also. Scale appear as waxy bumps on the trees limbs, foliage or fruit, they are an insect. While a few scale isn't too damaging, when it gets out of control like mine was, what is damaging is the ant population and sooty mould. 

How to Get Rid of scale from your Citrus Tree

I bought a 5 litre agricultural sprayer with wand from the hardware shop to make the spraying easier and to ensure I could reach the whole tree and spray under each leaf.

I bought a bottle of Confidor Concentrate and a bottle of White Oil both readily available from your local nursery or hardware shop.

I filled the spray with 5 litres of water and mixed in the Confidor Concentrate as per the directions and then added White Oil as per it's directions. Use the concentration measurements for 5 litres volume for each.

I gave it a stir with a stick. Put the lid on the sprayer tighten well.

Drench the affected tree and any neighbouring fruit trees. Spray the tree until it is literally dripping wet. Ensure you wet the undersides of the leaves as well.

Wait 2 weeks. Most of the scale will fall off in this time but any remaining scale will be dead and can either be gently scraped off with your fingers or hosed off.

It's been 3 weeks since I treated my lemon tree and it's now just beautiful and so healthy again (thanks Dad!). The scale has all gone, the leaves are no longer a sickly yellow, there is lots of new growth and it's covered in blossom. I'm hoping that this means a bountiful harvest.


How to get rid of scale on your lemon or lime citrus tree. Australian chemical advice.
How to get rid of scale on your lemon or lime citrus tree. Australian chemical advice.

You can see in the photo below that there are a couple of residual scale spots but I easily removed these with my fingers. 

How to get rid of scale on your lemon or lime citrus tree. Australian chemical advice.

Dad said to spray this mixture on my citrus trees every 6 months. I have 3 citrus trees that I espaliered along our side fence all in a row (a lime, a lemon and a mandarin). I love having fruit trees in our little inner suburban garden and this way they don't take up much room.

I'm hoping that none of you have had this problem with your lemon trees but if you do, this is a very effective treatment.

cheers 
Fiona xx

How to get rid of scale on your lemon or lime citrus tree. Australian chemical advice.




18 comments:

  1. Thanks Fiona, was needing a 'go-to' solution for this problem also. Does your Dad have a remedy for getting rid of sooty mould? My ornamental pear tree's trunk and branches are covered in it and even though it has just started to flower I am thinking it will need to be replaced. Enjoy following your blog after only discovering it a couple of months ago. ~ Jo.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Use the same solution as the oil will get rid of the sooty mould (faeces) and the confidor the insect causing the sooty mould....good gardening

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  2. I found aphidy looking things on my new trees with ants crawling around too. Thanks for this post Fiona, will Confidor the hell out of the little varmints now!

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  3. Did you know that it is good for men to 'wee' around your lemon tree. Nitrogen you know........

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  4. thanks so much, this is such helpful information. My lemon tree is suffering also. I'm off the buy confidor and white oil. your dad is a legend!
    cheers Stephanie

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  5. I have this problem on my trees also. Please thank your dad for this information.
    Much appreciated and thanks for the informative post.
    Julie

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  6. thanks for your help and great photos! - on a random garden inspection discovered my lemon tree was absolutely covered in scale. At that point didn't know what it was, sprayed with pyrethrum (which is for aphids and thrips) but will now head for the confidor and oil!

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    Replies
    1. hi Jan -so glad to be able to help. My tree is now thriving and just covered in tiny lemons so I know this remedy works (I never doubt my clever dad!)
      thanks for the compliment about the photos!
      regards
      Fiona

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    2. It seems like Confidor should not be used when bees are active: "Will kill bees – do not spray when bees are active. Wash hands after use. Mixed spray must be used on the day it is mixed." per http://www.yates.com.au/products/pest-control/insects-concentrates/bayer-confidor-garden-insecticide-concentrate/

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  7. You can use Neem Oil as an alternative to remove scale (does not harm bees and worms). Look here: http://www.gardenews.co.nz/neem.htm

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  8. You can use Neem Oil as an alternative to remove scale (does not harm bees and worms). Look here: http://www.gardenews.co.nz/neem.htm

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  9. Thank you so much. I can not tell you how much appreciate you posting this information. I have a meyer lemon tree and in the first year I got about 7 lemons after that the scale set in. I tried everything I knew and even called the store I original bout the tree from hoping they would have a solution but with it being over the phone the help was limited even though the customer service was wonderful. However though I thought I'd have to purchase a new lemon tree. Now I know what to do and I am so thankful for your information and great pictures on here. Thank you again so much.

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  10. Never had this before and didn't know what it was. Thank you so much.

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  11. I'm so glad I found this! I will go and look for those two items to mix with water. I saw the tree had an ant problem, but didn't realize the scales until I was searching on youtube. My 3 citrus plans (meyer lemons, buddha hands, and cara oranges) are taking off and I really want a fruitful year since it's the first year.

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  12. Thanks so much for the info. I was wondering what the bumps were my poor lemon and blueberry trees are covered in them. I sprayed my lemon tree with pest oil, wish i did the research first. Can the mixture be used on any fruit trees? I wonder if i can use the mix on my blueberry tree as well. Thanks again :)

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    Replies
    1. yes it can be used on any tree. thanks Tez, good luck with it.
      cheers Fiona

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