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So what is a kumquat The kumquat (kuhm' kwaht) is a small by danman21


									                       By BJ Jarvis, County Extension Director and Horticulture agent
                           and Rhonda Rhodes, Pasco County Master Gardener

                              So, what is a             • Meiwa (large round) (F. crassifolia) is a
                              kumquat? The               large, round kumquat with a thick peel and
kumquat (kuhm' kwaht) is a small, oblong citrus          sweet taste. The fruit are commonly 1-1½
fruit, with fruit that resembles a miniature             inches in diameter, and nearly seedless.
orange and the size of a plum. Kumquats are             • Marumi (small round) (F. japonica) is round,
prized for their combination of sweetness and            smaller than Meiwa, rarely exceeding 1 inch in
tartness in a single bite – yum!                         diameter, with 1-3 seeds. The peel is thinner
                                                         and somewhat sweeter than Nagami, but the
In central Pasco County, the “kumquat capital of         flesh is somewhat acidic. The tree is usually
the world” is located in the tiny town of St.            more thorny than either Nagami or Meiwa.
Joseph. This area is the world’s leading
producer and shipper of kumquat fruit.                  Kumquats are one of the most cold-hardy,
                                                        edible forms of citrus available (able to
Kumquats have been called "the little gold              withstand temperatures as low as 18°F). Active
gems of the citrus family.” Due to the thin,            growth occurs only at relatively high
sweet peel and a zesty, somewhat tart center,           temperatures, so the plants remain semi-
kumquats taste best when eaten whole, just like         dormant during late fall, winter and early spring
grapes (peel too!). Some recommend rolling the          in warm, temperate climates. They normally
ripened fruit between the thumb and forefinger          bloom long after citrus and cease active growth
to release the juices and tasty essential oils.         earlier in the fall, which contributes to their cold-
                                                        hardiness. Kumquat stores food reserves in
Kumquat is an easy to grow shrubby evergreen            their leaves and must, therefore, be protected
tree, rarely reaching ten feet tall, has few or no      from stresses that will cause leaf drop.
thorns and small, glossy leaves. The fruit are
very showy, borne in large numbers, and                 Kumquat trees are well-suited for growing in the
yellow-to-bright-reddish-orange in color. The           ground as well as in a container.
peel is medium-thick, fleshy, aromatic, and
spicy. Unlike oranges, kumquats do not drop             Planting in the ground
from their branches once ripened; they must be          Plants thrive in central Florida’s weather,
harvested when they bear from December                  tolerating our sandy soils and temperatures to
through April. Producing over 8,000 pounds of           about 18 degrees in winter. They perform well
fruit per acre, the home grower can expect high         in locations that receive plenty of sunshine.
yield from each tree.                                   Purchase kumquat plants from a reputable
                                                        dealer and withhold fertilization for the first
Three varieties of kumquats are grown in                month, as the plants usually have a slow-
Florida, although the most popular by far are           release fertilizer in the pot at purchase.
the first two:                                          Additional fertilizer would cause damage and
• Nagami (oval) kumquat (F. margarita) is the           burn. Mulch, especially around young trees, will
 most popular. Its fruit are oval, 1-1/2 inches         help reduce weed competition, but keep it back
 long, about 1 inch wide, have 2-5 seeds, are           12-18” from the trunk to discourage disease
 pleasantly flavored, and have a deeply-colored         problems. Young trees require considerable
 peel. A beautiful variegated variety, Centennial,      water to get well established, then water only
 would make a nice specimen plant.                      when necessary.
Container                                             can be pruned to shape without diminishing
Choose a pot about the size of a 15-gallon            their fruiting ability, though pruning isn’t
nursery container. Whether the container is clay      necessary.
or plastic, make sure it has good drainage;
drilling extra holes if you're in doubt. To prevent   Weeds and sod
soil from washing out, cover drain holes with         Do not allow weeds or sod to grow up near the
small sections of fine window screen rather than      tree trunk. They will compete with root activity.\
stones. To facilitate drainage and allow good air
circulation around the container, raise it slightly   Watering
off the ground. Citrus are heavy feeders and          Young trees and container-grown specimens
need a regular fertilizing program. Be sure to        require regular watering. Be sure to grow
water well before and after applying fertilizer to    Kumquats within reach of a garden hose or an
help prevent burn. If possible, buy a fertilizer      irrigation system.
formulated for citrus.
Container plants are more cold-sensitive,             Remove suckers from the tree as they can sap
requiring protection from freezing temperatures.      the energy from fruit production.
Group them closely together in a protected
location up against a building if possible. If very
cold temperatures are forecasted, cover with a
blanket for the night.

Other handy items for cold protection are a
mechanic's light or outdoor string lights. These
can be placed under the covers to give added
heat. Take the obvious precautions to avoid fire
hazards and electrical shorts. Also take care not
to allow a hot light bulb to come in contact with
and damage any part of the plant.
                                                                      Signs of Citrus Leafminer
Kumquat yields are usually abundant following                  Credits: J. Castner, University of Florida
a growing season that is warm and mild, as
they need warmth, humidity, and heat in order         Pests
to produce fruit. If your kumquat tree looks          Leafminer is one of the most often questioned
healthy but does not flower, it may not be            pest of Kumquat. Don’t worry though, as
getting the amount of sunlight it needs to            typically the numbers are so low that a
produce flowers and fruit.                            reduction in the home kumquat production is
                                                      not noticeable. In addition, the signs of
If your tree seems overloaded, you can remove         leafminer activity is usually not noticed when a
some of the fruit and allow the remainder to          treatment can be effective.
mature. At harvest time (timing depends upon
the weather), you can pick the fruit then prune
the tree before new flowers appear. Kumquats

                                              Pasco County Cooperative Extension Service
                                           36702 State Road 52, Dade City Florida 33525-5198
                                          PHONES: 352-521-4288; 727-847-8177; 813-996-7341
                                                         FAX: 352-523-1921
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