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Problem Solver: Suckers and Graft Lines

graftThe red bracket indicates the graft line on this young citrus tree, while the small arrow points to an out-of-control sucker, which should be removed immediately. By contrast, the whiter branch above the sucker is fine, since it sprouts from above the graft line. Only growth below the graft line is a sucker and should be removed.

A dwarf citrus tree's graft line can usually be seen as a diagonal scar between 4 and 8 inches from the soil. Remove all shoot growth below the graft. These so-called "suckers" take vitality from the top of the tree (the fruiting wood). Especially on young trees, they are very vigorous. Remove suckers as soon as they are observed.




Suckers like the one above are best pinched off by hand, as closely as
possible to the trunk, to discourage regrowth. The diagnonal graft line is
located a few inches above the vigorous green sucker; note the distinct
change in wood color along the diagonal graft.

Here an ambitious sucker actually set bloom and produced a fruit -- a sour
orange in this case. Pruners will be needed to cut this sucker.

The shoot on the left is a sucker which can be pinched off by hand. Other
branches are above the graft and will produce the desired fruit.