The bright yellow and orange fruits have now disappeared from the orchards, but still, the lush evergreen citrus plants continue to bless with the hope of a new season through an abundance of scented blossoms.
Citrus is a collective term for a genus of flowering trees and shrubs in the rue family, Rutaceae. These trees are perennial, and therefore, the beautiful, exquisite white blossoms, which appear from spring through to summer, are not only a stunning sight against the green foliage but a glimpse of the next season’s harvest.
Citrus blooming season is nature’s majestic way of providing insights into the future harvest because blossoms turn into fruit. The flowers of a plant are what produce edible fruit and are called blossoms.
The fruit develops from fertilised flowers. This development takes place from September to November when the fertilised flowers develop seed, the fruit begins to grow and the cells in the fruit increase in number. This process is known as cell division and fruit set. Fruit set is the developmental stage that marks the transition of a flower into a young fruit that will grow to maturity.
To ensure healthy citrus blossoms, the Ncedisa team is highly trained in skills to prune and nurture the orchards. The ideal time to prune is shortly after harvest in winter to early spring before buds breakthrough. Citrus trees do need to be pruned regularly for optimal fruit quality and productivity. Pruning can improve fruit quality through increasing light via the canopy of the tree.
Blossoms are not only aesthetically pleasing through sight and smell but also play a vital role in the entire process from cultivation to harvest. The citrus season spans across the time from the beginning of flower initiation to the harvest. Citrus season in South Africa and predominantly the Eastern Cape commences in August and continues to the end of the following July. For late cultivars, harvesting could extend into September.
Flowering is the main determinate of yield and quality of citrus fruit production. Flower formation is essential because it is the first step of fruiting. The number and quality of flowers impact the number and nutritional quality of developing fruitlets.
The next time you get to experience the enchanting aromatic citrus blossoms remember, they are more than just beautiful but part of a magical process of turning buds into fruit.