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Q. My lemons form and ripen on the tree but when I cut them open they are dry and brown to black inside with virtually no juice?
A. The tree is under stress and in order to get it through hot seasons it pulls back the sap or juice from the lemon fruits to make sure the tree survives. In order to help the tree avoid such stresses regular watering is important through the summer months.
Add a generous layer of mulch out to the drip line (the outer edges of the foliage). Go for 50 to 75 mm thick, with a quality composted mulch like Baileys Moisture Mulch.
When the tree is in active growth, apply a complete, organic-based fertiliser such as Baileys Soil Matters Garden. They need to be fed little and often every three months.
A quick fix is to cut, using secateurs; full sized fruits from the tree while they are still green. Ideally, leave a stub of stem on the fruit as this aids long life. Wrap the lemons in newspaper and store indoors in a dry dark place. The lemons will colour up yellow over a couple of weeks and store for a few months. The idea behind the wrapping is to prevent skin-to-skin contact, which often leads to a blue mould developing. This can lead to rot and ruin the whole crop.
For more tips read our blog Citrus in WA