Lemons Falling from a Tree; Causes and control tipsLemons Falling from a Tree; Causes and control tips

When your lemons are falling off the tree, you may be set into a panic. Lemons falling from a tree means that thanks to the tree abortion, you may not have any fruit left at harvest time. I get it, that is frustrating. But panicking isn’t anwer.

Lemon fruit drop can be natural and expected in some instances. Lemon trees produce way more lemons than the tree requires. It is an evolutionary advantage because if the lemon tree produces more fruit, the chances of the fruit reaching maturation and later on propagation are higher.

Other times fruit drop may be caused by unnatural causes. In that case, you should worry because it could herald and be a sign of serious tree damage.

What causes lemons to fall from a tree

What causes lemons to fall off a tree

There factors that can cause or predispose the lemon plant to lemons falling off. Premature fruit drop may be caused by a range of factors. The most common causes of premature fruit drop in lemon trees are;

1. Environmental stress and pressure

Stress from the environment like sudden temperature fluctuations and heavy rains can result in premature fruit drop. Lemons are sensitive fruits; even the slightest temperature change can have diverse effects on lemon trees.

The sole reason why lemon trees produce fruit is to propagate. If environmental factors are unfavorable the lemon tree will respond by losing fruit because under adverse environmental conditions, the chances of fruit maturing are reduced.

If environmental factors are harsh the Limon farmer is bound to find some lemons on the ground as a result of fruit abortion.

2. Lack of nutrients in the soil

Sometimes lemon trees can lose fruit as a result of malnutrition. If there aren’t enough soil nutrients available the tree response by dropping unnecessary parts of a tree including leaves, flowers, and fruit.

When a lemon tree is stressed by lack of a key factor, one of the significant ways to respond to the stress is to drop leaves, blossoms, and fruit irrespective of what is lacking. Whether it is water stress or nutrient stress, the reaction of the tree will be the same.

3. Overwatering and underwatering

Overwatering a lemon tree can cause a chain reaction of cascading effects and negative consequences. Lemon trees are thirsty trees and like water, but too much water, especially in the root region, will cause root rot.

Infected roots have a reduced  ability to absorb nutrients. This means that the plant will have reduced access to nutrients even though there may be present in the soil. Talk about starvation in plenty.

Lemon trees respond to reduced nutrition by dropping body parts, namely, leaves, flowers, and fruits. Underwatering on the hand, means that the tree has insufficient access to water. Water is life, and lemon trees need water to survive. If there aren’t enough water reserves in the soil, the lemon tree will respond to the water stress by dropping fruit. 

4. Pest and disease attacks

Pests and disease attacks can cause lemon fruit dropping

Common and notorious pests like whiteflies, aphids, scales, and mites can cause severe damage to the plant. Sap-feeding pests like scale can result in malnutrition which as shown above can result in fruit drop. 

Also they cause blemishes on fruit which lower the quality and health of the fruit. Damaged fruit often falls off the tree during self pruning stages of the lemon tree to ensure that only healthy fruit stays attached to the tree. 

Fungal diseases botrytis and Alternaria navel-end rot can also cause fruit drop. 

Why are my baby lemons falling off the tree

Baby lemons falling off a tree

Most often than not, when the baby lemons fall off the lemon tree it is a natural occurrence.

Baby lemons fall off the lemon in three major phases.

1. The 1st drop: 70% to 80% of blossom drop

The first self-pruning in which baby lemons fall is the drop of unpollinated flowers. Lemon fruits begin their life as lemon flowers. 

In this first drop, 70% to 80% of all the flowers drop. You can expect this drop which often occurs towards the end of the blooming season. 

Unpollinated flowers do not yield fruit and it’s a waste of energy and nutrients for lemon trees to sustain them. 

2. The 2nd drop: Pea-size lemon fruit drop

The second fruit drop often occurs a week or so after the first blossom drop. The rationale of this stage is to abort the extra lemon that the tree can’t hold.

The second foot drop’s major goal is to ensure only the lemons’ number that the lemon tree can support remains on the tree. As the fruits compete for nutrients, on;y the fittest survive and stay attached to the tree.

3. The 3rd drop: Golf ball size lemon fruit drop

Towards fruit maturation, a lemon tree will undergo another self-pruning phase to eliminate any lemon fruits that aren’t fit for propagation. 

This stage at which a lemon tree will drop any diseased or damaged lemon foods

How do you stop citrus fruit from dropping?

You can stop citrus fruit from dropping by safeguarding the lemon tree from the causative agents of fruit drop. That can be done by trying the following proactive approaches;

  • Pest and disease control to prevent and control drop due to pest and disease infestation.
  • Fertilizing thrice a year with a nitrogen rich slow release fertilizer.
  • Watering adequately


Why do my lemons turn black and fall off?

When lemon fruit turns black and falls off a tree it is often a sign of a fungal infection by the notorious Alternaria navel-end disease infection. 

You can prevent and treat the fungal infection by using copper fungicide on your lemon tree, especially in spring.

Do lemons fall off the tree when ripe?

Lemon trees eventually fall off the tree when they over ripen. By the time lemons fall off the tree they are close to spoiling. 

It is better for a farmer to pick the lemons before they reach this stage otherwise they will not store well.

Baby lemons turning yellow and falling off

Baby lemons that turn yellow and fall off are usually an indication of over watering and fungal infection that causes early ripening.

A farmer can prevent it by ensuring that the watering frequency and amount is optimal and by spraying with copper fungicide.

Sometimes baby lemons fall off trees during the stages of self pruning to reduce the fruit load of the tree. However in this natural occurrence, the lemons do not turn yellow before falling off.

Final thoughts

Lemons falling from a lemon tree can be depressing for a lemon farmer however by carrying out best farming practices and with a little TLC The Lemon Tree will be able to bounce back and survive the loss. 

Sometimes however it is important to remember that fruit job is a natural and healthy occurrence, the key is to realize when you are losing more fruit than expected.

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