Fertilizer for citrus tree

Fertilizing apple trees and other fruit trees will keep your orchard healthy and productive. But knowing when to fertilize and how to do it organically can be confusing. These tips will give clarity.

When we first planted our zone 3 orchard things didn’t turn out the way we expected. We planted whips that were grafted on hardy Russian dwarf stock and expected to see fruit in about 5 years. But 8 years later we were still waiting. The trees hadn’t grown the way we expected. There were losses but not from hard winters. The losses came in wet springs. Often just as the blossoms were opening the tree would die back.

We consulted a friend with heritage apple trees and she advised us to use fruit tree spikes to fertilize our apple trees. But obtaining fruit tree spikes required a trip to a garden centre a 3 hour drive from home. A few years ago we started over with fresh apple trees and a lot more understanding of the unique needs of fruit trees growing in the hard northern climate. Unfortunately we lost 8 years in orchard production, although we gained several lessons.


Know what kind of growth to expect from your fruit trees

A healthy young fruit tree will grow 18 to 24 inches in a growing season. That’s about 4 to 6 inches between April 15 and June 1st. If you are seeing that kind of growth, you don’t need to fertilize. Your young fruit trees are getting what they need from the soil they’re in . If your fruit tree is 3 years old you will expect it to grow about 20 inches a year (50 cm.), or 5 inches between April 15 and June 1st.

But if you are seeing little growth on the tips of the branches this year, or if last year’s growth fell short of the expected 18 to 24 inches (45 to 60 cm), your fruit trees need nitrogen.

Too much nitrogen isn’t better

If a little nitrogen promotes better growth and healthier apple trees, you may think that applying a lot of nitrogen is better. But that’s not necessarily the case. Too much nitrogen can damage your fruit trees just as much as too little nitrogen. Fruit trees, just like vegetables, need a balanced diet of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, plus a number of trace minerals to thrive. If they already have the right amount of fertility where they are planted, adding extra nitrogen can promote excessive soft growth that is easily damaged in winter, possibly killing the tree. Adding excess nitrogen can also cause nutrient deficiencies which can harm the tree. Getting the balance right is important.

Too much nitrogen can prevent fruiting and flowering and might even damage the roots of your trees.

Get the amount of nitrogen right

If your young tree had 24 inches of growth in the preceding year, there is no need to add additional fertilizer.

If your young tree had 12 to 15 inches of growth in the preceding year or 2 to 3 inches of growth between April 15 and June 1, adding a moderate amount of nitrogen will be helpful.

If your young tree has only 2 inches of growth in the preceding year, it needs a full dose of nitrogen at the beginning of the growing season. Use fertilizer package guidelines as your rule in this case.

Organic products for fertilizing apple trees

When you shop for fertilizer you don’t want a product that is 100% nitrogen. Instead you’ll choose an natural, organic fertilizer that is nitrogen rich but also contains other nutrients. Products sold as fertilizers have an N-P-K rating expressed in numbers. (N=Nitrogen, P=Phosphorus, and K=Potassium). If a product has a rating of 9-3-0, as fish meal does, it means it has 9% nitrogen, 3% phosphorus, and no potassium. Nitrogen promotes green, leafy growth. Phosphorus promotes root development and flowering. Potassium helps with fruiting and seed development.

Fish Fertilizer

As I already mentioned, fish fertilizer has a rating of 9-3-0. It is useful in young orchards where the trees are slow to grow, early in the season. I learned from my First Nation family to bury fish heads and entrails in the garden where I planted corn. Fish fertilizer is neater than raw fish heads, but just as smelly. It’s good to apply it just before a rain so that the smell is washed deeply into the soil and doesn’t bother the neighbors or attract stray cats or racoons.

Alfalfa Meal

Alfalfa meal can be found at the garden center and also at the feed store. It has a rating of (2-1-2). We mulch our garden and fruit trees with alfalfa hay, which breaks down over the growing season, feeding the trees and the vegetables with both nitrogen and potassium. Alfalfa meal releases nitrogen more quickly than the hay. Apply it in May, if your fruit trees are slow growing.

Blood Meal

Blood Meal can be found at the garden center. It has a rating of 12-0-0 and is a by product of the meat industry. Use it to give trees a nitrogen boost early in the season. Apply it just before a rain to wash it into the soil. Follow the directions on the package so that you don’t over apply it.

When to apply organic fertilizer to apple trees

Adding fertilizer to apple trees should be done 3 times during the growing season.

  • Make the first application in early spring, before flowering, around mid April in most areas temperate areas.
  • Make the second application about a month later, after flowering is completed around the end of May.
  • And the final application of fertilizer should be applied at the end of June, about a month after the second application.

Follow the directions on the fertilizer box. If the fertilizer gives an annual application rate, divide this by 3 to find out how much fertilizer to add with each application.

Don’t add any nitrogen rich fertilizer after July 1st

Adding nitrogen fertilizer later in the season can prevent the trees from going into dormancy as winter comes on. This can cause damage to the trees in the cold season. Instead wait till spring to apply the fertilizer if you missed the opportune window. You can still add mulch to the trees as the mulch breaks down slowly and won’t promote lush, tender growth later in the season.

Mulching when fertilizing apple trees

Mulch improves the soil by increasing organic matter, improving soil texture, and increasing soil micro-organisms. As the soil health improves the need for soil amendments like nitrogen fertilizers lessens. Mulching also retains moisture at the soil level, reducing the need for supplemental water. Mulch keeps competing weeds and grass away from the drip zone of fruit trees and makes maintaining the tree easier.

Adding 2 inches of nitrogen rich mulch in the early spring as a top dressing on all your fruit trees, give the tree a burst of nutrition just when they need it most. This is the best time to add alfalfa hay, compost, or well rotted manure.

When adding alfalfa hay, grass hay, well rotted manure, leaf mold, or bark mulch to the soil surface around young trees, it’s important to keep the mulch well away from the trunk of the tree. Air needs to get to trunk. Mulch in the shape of a donut, keeping the mulch at a distance from the trunk and mounding it in the drip zone.

Growing Urban Orchards

I found Susan Poizner’s book Growing Urban Orchards, How to Care for Fruit Trees in the City and Beyond very helpful in learning the tips and tricks for nurturing fruit trees in the colder areas of the country. Susan established fruit trees in urban Toronto (USDA zone 5) in 2009. Her book is focused on bring fruitfulness, reestablishing pollinators, and providing healthy food through establishing urban orchards.

Her information is easily accessible for the home gardener, homesteader, and permaculture gardener and covers the basics of fruit tree care from choosing trees that will do well in your hardiness zone, to preparing the planting hole, fertilizing fruit trees, and protecting them from pests and human marauders.

Susan is a community fruit tree expert and a leader in Growing for Green, a community group that plants orchards in and around the Toronto area. While her book focuses on her experience in Toronto, she includes suggestions on growing fruit trees in different regions and explains how to research solutions that will work for you, where you live.

My favorite part of the book was reading the stories of other urban orchard projects in zones 3 (Calgary, Alberta) to zone 8 (Richmond, BC and Seattle, Washington). The stories of community and partnership, between growing food and using food in community were inspirational.

The book though isn’t just for community groups who want to add fruit trees to community gardens, parks, and public lands. This book explains how to care for fruit trees in intimate detail and is valuable for the home gardener and homesteader as well.

Growing Urban Orchards won the 2014 Silver Award from the Garden Writers Association Media Awards.

You can get your copy here.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book for review purposes from “Book Publishing, Co”.

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2. Unlicensed contracting is ILLEGAL and is a crime, it puts you at risk with your project. It is extreme but you can get arrested for hiring an unlicensed contractor.
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5. Licensed contractors will provide you with proper estimates, contracts, etc. as well as obtain the proper sign permits and any other necessary documents to free you of any liability associated with unlicensed contractors. Licensed contractors follow all the state signage laws and take no cheap shortcuts so you can be confident that your licensed contractor will get your job done right.

Crop Guide: Citrus Tree Fertilizer Recommendations


  1. Many benefits with Haifa quality fertilizers
  2. Summary of recommended applications with Haifa fertilizers
  3. Plant nutrients requirements
  4. Soil analysis
  5. Plant analysis data
  6. Nitrogen
  7. Phosphorus
  8. Potassium
  9. Nutrigation™ (fertigation)
  10. Nutrigation™ Recommendations for Young trees
  11. Nutrigation™ recommendation of bearing trees
  12. Nutrigation™Schedule
  13. Proportional Nutrigation™
  14. Nutrigation™ practice in Israel
  15. Multicote™ Agri Controlled Release Fertilizers
  16. Foliar nutrition

3.1 Many benefits with Haifa quality fertilizers

Either soil application, fertigation or foliar treatments, Haifa provides quality products to benefit of any citrus grower.

Soil application:

Multi-K™ in prilled form, can be applied manually or by fertilizer spreader, a source of nitrogen in nitrate (NO3-) form and chlorine free potassium. Prevents salinity injuries and is quickly up-taken by tree roots.

Multicote™ Agri most suitable when labor is not available or affordable, or where leaching of plant nutrients may occur, this control release fertilizer (CRF) is an ideal solution.

Nutrigation™ (fertigation) Multi-K™, Poly-Feed™, Haifa MAP™ and Haifa MKP™ are water soluble fertilizers, containing major macro and minor plant nutrients. Due to the compatibility and the solubility of these fertilizers, can be fertigated in the most effective way and with most beneficial results.

Foliar applications:

Haifa Bonus™ affects the external and internal fruit quality: increases size and weight, prevents creasing and splitting, improves soluble solids and vitamin C content. In addition, correct quickly and effectively plant nutrient deficiencies.

Tank mix of Haifa Bonus™ with plant growth regulators, improves their functions.

In addition to nutritional functions, Haifa Bonus™ suppresses scale population, like Floridian Wax Scale, an environmental friendly and economical treatment.

Poly-Feed™ available in many N-P-K ratios to deal with an effective way to prevent and to cure plant nutrient deficiencies.

Magnisal™ will cure in a very quick and effective way magnesium (Mg) deficiencies.

The recommendations appearing in this document should be regarded as a general guide only. The exact fertilization program should be determined according to the specific crop needs, soil and water conditions, cultivar, and the grower’s experience. For detailed recommendations, consult a local Haifa representative.

Disclaimer: Any use of the information given here is made at the reader’s sole risk. Haifa Chemicals Ltd. provides no warranty whatsoever for “Error Free” data, nor does it warrants the results that may be obtained from use of the provided data, or as to the accuracy, reliability or content of any information provided here.

In no event will Haifa Chemicals Ltd. or its employees be liable for any damage or punitive damages arising out of the use of or inability to use the data included.

3.2 Summary of recommended applications with Haifa fertilizers*

Table 10: Summary of recommended applications with Haifa fertilizers*

* For detailed recommendations, refer to the relevant paragraph in the following chapters.

* For detailed recommendations, refer to the relevant paragraph in the following chapters.

* For detailed recommendations, refer to the relevant paragraph in the following chapters.

* For detailed recommendations, refer to the relevant paragraph in the following chapters.

E – Proportional Nutrigation™ (ppm)

N (20-30% as NH4+)

P (as orthophosphate*)




* For detailed recommendations, refer to the relevant paragraph in the following chapters.

F – Foliar feeding – young trees



* For detailed recommendations, refer to the relevant paragraph in the following chapters.

G – Foliar feeding



Correct deficiency







* For detailed recommendations, refer to the relevant paragraph in the following chapters.

H – Foliar treatments with Haifa Bonus-npK™

Yield & Quality



No. of Applications

External fruit quality

Increases size

2 – 6 %

2 – 4

Increases fruit weight

2 – 6 %

2 – 4

Improves rind color

2 – 6 %

2 – 4

Rind Disorders

Reduces creasing

2 – 6 %

2 – 4

Reduces splitting

2 – 6 %

2 – 4

Internal juice quality

Increases juice content

2 – 6 %

2 – 4

Increases of soluble solids

2 – 6 %

2 – 4

Increases of acid

2 – 6 %

2 – 4

Increases vitamin C

2 – 6 %

2 – 4

Floridian Wax Scale



1 – 2

Growth regulator

Fruit size & productivity


Growth regulators

2,4-D + 2,4-DP



* For detailed recommendations, refer to the relevant paragraph in the following chapters.

3.3 Plant nutrients requirements

The tree age and the expected yield are two important parameters in determining the required plant nutrients (Table 11).

Table 11: Required rates of macro and secondary plant nutrients according to growing stages and expected yield

3.4 Soil analysis

This is useful for measuring pH, available P and certain exchangeable cations, notably Ca and Mg.

Table 12: A standard soil test, using Mehlich-1 extractant, interpretation and phosphorus recommendations for commercial citrus orchards, 1-3 years of age

Soil test

Phosphorus, ppm

0 – 10

10 – 15

16 – 30

31 – 60

Interpretive Classes

Very Low




Recommendation for P2O5 application (g/tree)

Apply at 100% of the N rate

Apply at 75% of the N rate

Apply at 50% of the N rate

Application of high rate of magnesium (Mg) fertilizers, may suppress the uptake of potassium (K) due to their cationic competition.

Table 13: The standard Mehlich-1 soil test interpretations and magnesium recommendations for commercial citrus orchards.

Soil Test Magnesium, (ppm)

< 15

15 – 30

> 30

Interpretive Classes

Very low – Low


High – Very High


Apply Mg fertilizer with MgO at 20% of the N rate

Apply Mg fertilizer with MgO at 20% of the N rate

No Mg recommended

However, because citrus trees are grown on a wide range of soil types, it would be difficult to establish standards for all soils. They are therefore usually developed for certain soil types in a given region.

It is usually more difficult to assess the N and K status in the soil because both these elements are subject to leaching, especially in humid regions.

3.5 Plant analysis data

Leaf analysis is an essential tool to determine the required plant nutrients (Table 14). According to leaf analysis results, the fertilization rates and the correct ratio of plant nutrients can help to schedule the fertilization program.

Table 14: Leaf analysis standards for mature, bearing citrus trees based on 4 to 6-month-old, spring-cycle leaves from non-fruiting terminals

3.6 Nitrogen

The form of a nitrogen, either ammonium (NH4+), nitrate (NO3-) or amide (NH2), plays an important role when choosing the right fertilizer for Nutrigation of citrus trees.Nitrate-nitrogen is a preferable source of nitrogen as it suppresses the uptake of chloride (Cl-) and at the same time promotes the uptake of cations, such as potassium (K+), magnesium (Mg2+) and Calcium (Ca2+). In addition, the nitrate form of nitrogen increases the pH of soil solution near the root system, especially important in acidic soils.

The nitrogen in Multi-K™ (potassium nitrate, KNO3) is entirely in nitrate form, which makes it a suitable fertilizer for Nutrtigation™.

Table 15: Nitrogen requirements and recommendations for the first three years after planting

* Other water-soluble N fertilizer may be added and Multi-K™ rate should be reduced accordingly.

Table 16: Nitrogen requirements and recommendations for trees aged 4-7 years, by variety

* Other water-soluble N fertilizer may be added and Multi-K™ rate should be reduced accordingly.

Table 17: Nitrogen requirements and recommendations for trees eight years and older

* Other water-soluble N fertilizer may be added and Multi-K™ rate should be reduced accordingly.

3.7 Phosphorus

Table 18: Test interpretations and phosphorus recommendations for commercial citrus orchards, ages 4 and above

P level in leaf tissue

Soil test P level

P recommendation

High or Very High

Soil test P not applicable

0 Kg of P2O5 for 12 months until re-evaluation



0 Kg of P2O5 for 12 months until re-evaluation


Less than sufficient

8 Kg P2O5/ha for every 9,500 kg of fruit produced per ha during one year


Less than sufficient

12 Kg P2O5/ha for every 9,500 kg of fruit produced per ha during one year


Less than sufficient

16 Kg P2O5/ha for every 9,500 kg of fruit produced per ha during one year

3.8 Potassium

Potassium recommendations also depend on the age of citrus trees. During the first 3 years after planting, K2O should be applied at the same rate as N (g K2O/tree). For orchard ages of 4 years and above, K2O should be applied at the same rate as N (in Kg K2O/ha).

Table 19: K recommendations for the first three years of orchard-age

Age of tree

Rate of K2O (g/tree)

Rate of Multi-K™ (g/tree)

Year 1

70 – 140

150 – 300

Year 2

140 – 280

300 – 600

Year 3

280 – 420

600 – 900

Table 20: K requirements and recommendations for trees aged 4-7 years

3.9 Nutrigation™ (fertigation)

Application of water soluble fertilizers through the irrigation system is the optimal method for providing balanced plant nutrition throughout the growth season. A balanced Nutrigation™ regime ensures that essential nutrients are placed precisely at the site of intensive root activity and are available in exactly the right quantity – when plants need them.

3.9.1 Nutrigation™ Recommendations for Young trees

  • Soil type: Light to medium
  • 240 irrigation (application) days per year. If more application days, calculated daily rates should be reduced, accordingly
  • Rates are based on N: K2O ratio 1: 1

Table 22: Nutrigation™ recommendations for young trees

* In fertile soils and irrigated water with high content of plant nutrients, rates of fertilizers should be reduced, accordingly.

Table 23: Recommended applications of Haifa MAP™ (12-61-0) when soil test is not available



Haifa MAP

Haifa MAP




* Estimated 240 irrigated days.

3.9.2 Nutrigation™ recommendation of bearing trees

  • Soil type: light to medium
  • Tree population: 400-600 trees/ha
  • Expected yield: 40 t/ha

The recommended average rates of nutrients (Kg/ha):




Nitrogen:The recommended amount is based on the nitrogen consumption of 4-6 Kg N/ ton of fresh fruit. 75% of the entire amount of nitrogen should be applied from early spring to the mid-summer. It is recommended to split this amount of nitrogen and to apply it proportionally in each one of the irrigation cycles.

The rest 25% can be applied in autumn, after color breaking, or as post-harvest fertilization.

Phosphorus:One or two applications at the beginning of spring.

Potassium: It is recommended to divide the entire amount of potassium and to apply it proportionally in each one of the irrigation cycles from early spring to early summer irrigations.


Table 24: Nutrigation schedule on bearing trees


Application time

No. of applications

Total amount


Spring to early summer


400-650 Kg/ha


During the season


400-600 Kg/ha

Haifa MAP™


100 Kg/ha

Recommendations for Bearing Trees (higher yield)

  • Soil type: light to medium
  • Plant population: 440 trees / ha
  • Expected yield: 60 ton / ha

The recommended average rates of nutrients (Kg/ha):




650 – 950

650 – 1000

Kg. / ha





950 – 1250

430 – 570

Haifa MAP™


1400 – 2000

175 – 280

650 – 1000

Table 25: Nutrigation™ schedule of total plant nutrients per seasonal application

* Split into low rates and applied weekly ; ** Split into 1-2 applications

In case of magnesium deficiency, it is recommended to spray with 2% Magnisal™ (Haifa’s magnesium nitrate product) when the leaves of the early spring flush have reached 2/3 of their final size. This Nutrigation™ programshould be adjusted according to leaf analysis data.

3.9.3 Proportional Nutrigation™

Proportional Nutrigation™, (constant concentrations of plant nutrients during the entire irrigation session) is a beneficial tool, mainly when growing on sandy soils (Table 26).

Table 26: Proportional Nutrigation

* P in orthophosphate form serves as a buffer.

3.9.4 Nutrigation™ practice in Israel

Non-bearing citrus trees

Table 27: Recommended rates of N, P and K, on young – non-bearing citrus trees:

When proportional fertigation is used, the concentration of N, the irrigated water in non-bearing orchard should not exceed 200 ppm (200 g N in 1000 L water).

In fruit bearing orchards grow where leaf analysis is not available, it is recommended to apply 200 kg N /ha/yr, 180 Kg K2O/ha/yr and once in three years 60 Kg P2O5/ha.

Applications of potassium may vary according to soil texture; in light texture soils, low rates of phosphorus in each fertigation may be added, similarly to N, while in heavier texture soils higher rates of P may be applied once a week.

Bearing citrus trees

Apply N throughout the irrigation period according to the harvesting time of the fertigated variety. Varieties that are having color breaking difficulties, it is recommended to complete the N fertigation in mid summer. When proportional fertigation is used, the concentration of N, the irrigated water bearing orchard, should not exceed 50 ppm N (50 g N in 1000 L water).

Phosphorus should be applied, as needed, during the entire fertigated period in equal rates. If orchard is not fertigated, phosphorous should be applied in one portion in either spring or fall.

Applications of potassium may vary according to soil texture; in light texture soils, low rates of phosphorus in each fertigation may be added, similarly to N, while in heavier texture soils higher rates of P may be applied; once a month.

Recommendations according to leaf analysis

Table 28: Recommended potassium application rates according to leaf analysis, for oranges, (Shamuti, Washington navels, Valencia), lemons and tangerines

K level in leaves (% of dry weight)




Less than 0.45%

0.45% – 1%

Above 1%

Recommended rate of K2O kg/ha

Table 29: Recommended potassium application rates according to leaf analysis, for grapefruits

K level in leaves (% of dry weight)




Less than 0.35%

0.36% – 0.75%

Above 0.75%

Recommended rate of K2O kg/ha

Potassium: should be applied in the same rates and methods as nitrogen.

Table 30: Recommended phosphorous application rates according to leaf analysis, for oranges, (Shamuti, Washington navels), lemons and tangerines

P level in leaves (%) in leaves




Less than 0.35%

0.36% – 0.75%

Above 0.75%

Recommended rate of P2O5 kg/ha

Table 31: Recommended phosphorous application rates according to leaf analysis, for grapefruits and Valencia oranges

P level in leaves (%) in leaves




Less than 0.03%


Above 0.041%

Recommended rate of P2O5 kg/ha

Phosphorous: When drip irrigation is practiced, it is recommended to apply the phosphorous as a full-soluble product, such as Multi-MAP or Multi-MKP, at a constant concentration, during the entire irrigation season.

When leaf analysis is unavailable, it is recommended to apply 200 kg/ha of nitrogen, 180 kg /ha of K2O and once every three years, 60 kg/ha of P2O5.

Nutrigation™with recycled water: this kind of water may contain substantial quantities of plant nutrients. Therefore, it is recommend analyzing the water in order to determine the available plant nutrient and to use the leaf analysis results as a guidance criterion for the real application of the fertilizers.

3.10 Multicote™ Agri Controlled Release Fertilizers

There are two main situations in which the use of Multicote™ Agri products are recommended:

1. In the planting hole: It is recommended to apply Multicote™ Agri in the planting hole, to ensure balanced and adequate plant nutrients that are essential during the root development stage and the initial growth. This is recommended both in the nursery, when the seedling is transferred to the growth pot, and when the young plant is transplanted to the new plantation.

2. In sandy soils and high precipitation conditions: As a standard crop nutrition management, in order to minimize leaching problems and yet to feed the citrus trees with all essential plants nutrients, the grower has a choice of several longevities of Multicote™ Agri to suit crop needs according to local growing conditions.

Multicote™ Agri applications:

To select the right Multicote™ Agri formula and to set application rates, some guidelines have to be followed:

  • Release longevity should consider soil temperatures. As the release rate increases with temperature, higher temperatures require formula with extended longevity. Note that the declared longevity refers to release at 21oC
  • Under heavy rainfall or intensive irrigation, formula with higher percentage of coated nutrients is required.
  • In any case, the percentage of coated nitrogen must exceed the minimum of 25% of the total N in the product.
  • The total rates of nutrients should consider
  • Theoretical needs based on removal by the crop+expected losses
  • Required/expected yield level
  • Farmer’s common practice and experience

Under most conditions, Multicote™ Agri enables reduction of 10-20% in application rates as compared to conventional fertilization.

Please consult Haifa agronomist to customize Multicote™ Agri fertilization program to suit your needs.

3.11 Foliar nutrition

Foliar feeding is a fast and highly effective method of supplementing and enriching plant nutrients when needed. Foliar application of Haifa water soluble fertilizers provides needed plant nutrients for normal development of crops when absorption of nutrients from the soil is disturbed, precision-timed foliar sprays are also a fast-acting and effective method for treating nutrient deficiencies.

Foliar application of the correct nutrients in relatively low concentrations at critical stages in crop development contributes significantly to higher yields and improved quality.

Determine safe foliar applied rate:

To verify the safe rate under local conditions, it is advisable to spray recommended rate on a few plants. After 3-4 days check the tested plants for scorching symptoms.

Preparation of tank-mix:

Dissolve Haifa water-soluble fertilizes in about half of the tank volume, and add to the spray tank. When applying together with crop-protection agents, addition of wetting agents is not necessary. To ensure compatibility of tank-mix components, a small-scale test should be performed prior to actual application.

Table 32: Haifa water-soluble fertilizers for foliar application


Curing Treatment


Potassium deficiency

Haifa MAP™

Phosphorus deficiency

Haifa MKP™

Phosphorus and potassium deficiency


Magnesium deficiency


N-P-K and micronutrients deficiency

Haifa Micro™

Micronutrients deficiencies

3.11.1 Haifa-Bonus™ increases yields and enlarges fruits

Foliar treatments with Haifa-Bonus™ proved to increase yield of many citrus species and varieties as well as increases fruit size, an important commercial parameter (Tables 33-35).

Table 33: Effect of Haifa-Bonus™ spray on size, yield and N & K levels in leaves of “Marsh” grapefruit

* 3 % spray solution X 3 applications (April, June, and November)

Table 34: Effect of Haifa Bonus™ on Yield and Fruit Size of “Valencia” oranges



Fruit size

Fruit / box

Boxes / tree

Fruits / tree


Sprayed* with Haifa Bonus-npK

* 5 % spray solution.

Table 35: Effect of Haifa Bonus™ sprays on fruit size of “Shamuti” oranges

Foliar treatments with Haifa Bonus™ not only increases yield fruit size, but also reduces fruit splitting, a problem that may cause a sever reduction in marketable fruits (Tab. 11 – 13).

Table 37: Effect of Haifa Bonus™ on “Nova” mandarins – R. Lavon (1992)

Figure 48: The Effect of Haifa Bonus™ on Yield & Fruit Size of Ruby-Red Grapefruit

Haifa-Bonus™ also reduces the fruit drop and affects the fruit quality (Tables 38-39).


K in Leaves (%)

Fruit Drop (fruits/tree)

Yield (box/tree)


Haifa Bonus-npK 4%

Table 39: Effect of Haifa-Bonus™ spray on “Lisbon” Lemons (USA)

* 3 % spray solution X 3 applications (April, June, and November)

3.11.2 Foliar feeding on young trees

Table 40: Foliar feeding with Poly-Feed™ on young citrus trees to stimulate growth

Period Frequency Product Spray concentration











Haifa-Bonus™ + phosphoric acid

4% + 0.1%

* add surfactant

Table 41: Foliar feeding to correct deficiencies

Plant Nutrient



Spray concentration

Magnesium (Mg)

Spring, when leaves are 2/3 of their final size


1.4 %

Potassium (K)

May-August, 1-2 applications

Haifa Bonus™

4 %

3.11.3 Foliar feeding prevents creasing and splitting, and improves fruit quality

For many years, foliar applications of Haifa-Bonus npK fertilizer proved to be an efficient treatment to reduce creasing in oranges (Tab. Xx).

Table 42: Foliar application of Haifa Bonus™ increases leaf K and reduces creasing in “Valencia” oranges

* 5 % spray solution.
Based on research results, the recommended treatment to reduce creasing is, to apply 4%-6% Haifa Bonus™ npK: 1st application on Mid June (after June drop), and 2nd application one month later (Table 43).

Table 43: Recommended foliar treatments with Haifa-Bonus™ npK

Treatment purpose

Application rate (kg/ha)

Conc. (%)

Spray vol. (liter/ha)


No. of sprays



Increase fruit size

Spring – Summer

Reduce fruit drop

After fruit-set

Reduce splitting and creasing

Spring – Summer

Suppress Floridian Wax Scale

Spring – Summer

Table 44: Growth regulators treatments, affecting fruit size and tree productivity, by variety


Time of Treatment

Growth Regulator

Additives to growth regulators

Shamuti, Valencia Washington

End May – early June, Fruitlets 15-20 mm in diameter

2,4-D 20-40 ppm

2,4-DP 50-60 ppm

Haifa Bonus™ 4-6%

Michal, Clementines, Murkot, Dennis

End May – early June, Fruitlets 8-12 mmin diameter

NAA 200-300 ppm

Haifa Bonus™ 4-6%

Michal, Murkot

Fruitlets 21-25 mmin diameter


10-15 ppm

Haifa Bonus™ 4-6%

Valencia Washington

Fruitlets 15-18 mm in diameter

2,4-DP 50-60 ppm

Haifa Bonus™ 4-6%

Red Grapefruit, White Grapefruit

Fruitlets 15-20 mm in diameter

NAA 300 ppm

Haifa Bonus™ 4%

Need more information about growing citrus? You can always return to the citrus tree fertilizer & citrus crop guide table of contents

Fertilizing Citrus Trees – Best Practices For Citrus Fertilizing

Citrus trees, like all plants, need nutrients to grow. Because they can be heavy feeders, fertilizing citrus trees is sometimes necessary in order to have a healthy and fruit bearing tree. Learning how to fertilize a citrus fruit tree properly can make the difference between a bumper crop of fruit or a bummer crop of fruit.

When to Apply Citrus Fertilizer

In general, you should be doing your citrus fertilizing about once every one to two months during active growth (spring and summer) and once every two to three months during the tree’s dormant periods (fall and winter). As the tree gets older, you can skip dormant season fertilizing and increase the amount of time between active growth fertilizing to once every two to three months.

To find the best citrus fertilizing time frames for your tree, judge based on the tree’s physical appearance and growth. A tree that looks lush and dark green and is holding onto fruit does not need to be fertilized as often. Fertilizing too much when the tree has a healthy appearance may actually cause it to produce inferior fruit.

Citrus trees are most nutrient-hungry from the time they bloom until they have firmly set fruit, so make sure you apply citrus fertilizer when the tree is in bloom regardless of health so that it has enough nutrients to properly produce fruit.

How to Fertilize a Citrus Fruit Tree

Citrus tree fertilizing is either done through the leaves or through the ground. Following the directions on your chosen fertilizer, which will be to either spray the fertilizer onto the leaves of your citrus tree or spread it out around the base of the tree as far as the canopy reaches. Do not place fertilizer near the trunk of the tree.

What Kind of Citrus Fertilizer Does My Tree Need?

All citrus trees will benefit from a slightly nitrogen rich or balanced NPK fertilizer that also has some micro-nutrients in it like:

  • magnesium
  • manganese
  • iron
  • copper
  • zinc
  • boron

Citrus trees also like to have somewhat acidic soil, so an acidic fertilizer can also be beneficial in citrus tree fertilizing, though not required. The easiest citrus fertilizer to use is the kind made specifically for citrus trees.

Feeding Citrus

The experts at the University of Arizona College Cooperative Extension have a useful guide to fertilizing citrus and it updates the timing of when to feed some citrus plants.

Lemons and limes stay close to the schedule we’re all familiar with: February, April, and September.

Oranges, grapefruit and tangerines shift to a February, April, June schedule. That’s a big change.

Here’s a link to the Citrus Fertilization Chart. It’s easy to read and figure out how much fertilizer your trees will need.

It is best to use a fertilizer formulated especially for citrus or generally for fruit and nut trees. All citrus trees will benefit from a heavy nitrogen fertilizer that has some phosphorous in it. Citrus trees also like to have somewhat acidic soil, so look for that in a fertilizer, too.

We like the organic Jobe’s Organics Fruit & Citrus granular, a 3-5-5 fertilizer that will gradually provide a safe, long-lasting food supply to your citrus. It also contains a proprietary blend of beneficial microbes that help growth.

Read the instructions on the bag to determine how much fertilizer to use, depending on the size of your tree. We find that the best way to apply to established trees is to scratch up the soil to a depth of 4 to 6 inches around the dripline of the tree. Put the fertilizer in the trench and water it in slowly. Very slowly, even over 10 to 12 hours. What you’re going for is slow, deep watering.

You can take the same total amount of fertilizer recommended for three applications and split it up into nine applications for every month from February to October. Nine light regular applications promotes better tree growth, especially for young trees.

But please don’t fertilize after October. You don’t want to promote new growth when there is danger of frost.

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