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Home Grown

Home Grown: Citrus trees burned after disease threat

CBS 13's April Hettinger takes a closer look at the sicknesses that kill trees

YUMA, Ariz. (KYMA, KECY) - The three factors that can be a threat to growing citrus fruits are insects, freezing temperatures and diseases.

But, a field of lemon trees got progressively attacked by a disease.

There are many reasons why citrus trees can be susceptible to diseases, and once they do contract a disease, they'll need to be burned so it doesn't spread to others. 

"It'll be about a five-year rotation before we plant trees there again and then five to six years before those trees would start bearing fruit again," said David Nickerson, operation manager for Robert Nickerson Farms. "So, it'd be about 10 years of no lemons on that ground."

The trees in this burned field were about 30-years-old.

Another threat to the trees is frost, and yes, even in Yuma on a winter morning.

They have to spray for insects twice a year.

"We have a fan sprayer. It's a sprayer that waves the chemical up and down the trees, and we're spraying for thrip," Nickerson explained. "Thrip will attack the actual fruit."

Harvesting is all done by hand.

They pick the fruit when it's still green and the right size.

"They'll have a ring that sizes the fruit, and so they'll look for a specific size. They'll come and harvest the trees two or three times if they have to to get that size." Nickerson stated.

The trees have to be chopped and shaped once a year.

Then, the fruit is sorted by how it looks.

"We do harvest a lot of fancy fruit which means it's appealing to the eye. Internally it makes no difference, so a lot of those go to restaurants and bars," Nickerson said.

Other healthy fruits that don't meet the same appearance criteria are shipped off to juicing companies.

Yuma County
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April Hettinger

April was born and raised in San Diego where she loved the beach town and her two dogs, Lexi and Malibu. She decided to trade the beach for the snow and advanced her education at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff.

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