Foot rot and root rot are both symptoms of Phytophthora, a serious soil-borne disease that infects all citrus varieties. Although its effects are most devastating to commercial growers, it can still attack trees grown in the home landscape. Fortunately, there are preventative measures you can take before planting to keep your citrus trees healthy and producing.
Choose Quality Stock
The virus that causes foot rot is often present in the rootstock before you buy the tree. Always purchase citrus from a reputable grower, garden center or nursery that can guarantee young trees have been tested and are disease-free.
Plant in the Right Place
Citrus trees need little care, but one thing they will not tolerate is wet feet. Plant citrus trees in well-drained, loamy soils. If the soil is clay, very fine or compacted, you will have to improve its drainage capabilities to grow citrus successfully.
Water at the Right Time
Although young trees need consistent watering to become established, mature citrus trees are drought resistant and require little outside water. When necessary, irrigate in the morning so the sun will dry the bark through the course of the day.
Keep It Clean
Clear a three-foot circle of grass and other plants beneath your citrus trees. Remove fallen leaves and fruit promptly. Never wrap the trunks or add mulch or other material around the base of the tree. The area directly beneath citrus should be bare earth.
Foot rot presents as a broken area ringing the trunk near the soil line. The wound may bleed a reddish-brown, gummy resin. Eventually, foot rot leads to yellowing of foliage, leaf and fruit drop, dieback and death. Although new injectable remedies are available to treat trees that aren’t in fruit, as always, your best bet is to be proactive and take precautions to prevent problems before they occur.