Chislett Developments

Orchard Protocol

M7 Orchard Protocol – Southern Hemisphere



 The M7 is a very early maturing navel orange which consequently has a shorter time for fruit growth between flowering and harvest, than other early varieties. There is also a propensity for the variety to set heavy crops that can impact negatively on fruit size in a similar way to Navelina.

 The variety is precocious and young trees can also set heavy crops during a time where we seek to maximise tree growth and we don’t want to encourage alternate bearing, so it may be necessary to implement crop regulating practices earlier than would otherwise be required on other navel varieties.

To maximise profits fruit size has to be optimised. It is necessary therefore to ensure all possible cultural practices are followed to achieve this result.


Figure 1:  Cracks which have healed on maturing wood

The high vigour of the M7 can cause occasional bark cracking (Figure 1) which under normal circumstances heals without causing problems. Under particularly vigorous growing conditions and high humidity, these cracks can be more pronounced and the bark can turn a reddish-brown colour (Figure 2) and occasionally become infected by fungal or bacterial agents causing bark damage and shoot dieback. This high vigour also means that copper is readily depleted in the tree’s system. It has been found that regular copper sprays reduce or even eliminate these symptoms. It is therefore very important to follow the recommendations for copper sprays below.

Using appropriate cultural practices the M7 has proven to be highly productive of excellent quality fruit.
















Figure 2:  Reddish-brown colourisation of healed cracks

Figure 3: Vigorous three year old M7 tree

Young Tree Foliar Spray

 For the first two years after planting or top-working trees, as for any other citrus variety, it is recommended that regular and frequent foliar nutrient applications be used to maximise growth.

Nitrogen, magnesium and trace elements should be used along with amino acids and other growth stimulants.

A low rate of copper should be mixed with every spray (e.g. 25 g/100 l of copper oxide).

An IPM strategy should be used to achieve good control of aphids and leaf miner.


Trunk Guards on Young Trees

 Trunk guards if too tight or do not have enough ventilation, can cause phytophthora infection of the bark under the guard. Guards should be removed as soon as they are no longer required.


Winter GA

 Applications of winter GA can be used to manipulate flowering to reduce fruit numbers, and clusters of fruit, thus improve overall fruit size.

This practice is very important for this variety and should be applied starting the first winter after planting or top-working in order to have balanced consistent crops.

Timing: Late May in early maturing areas and early June for mid and late maturing areas.

Rate: 10 ppm.

A second application at 10 ppm could follow at bud break if a very heavy bloom (a light previous crop, vigorous foliage and a current cold winter) is anticipated.

In regions where this practice is not common small trials with a control should be implemented before following this guideline as a standard practice.



 The M7 has the tendency to produce thick canopies in the lower part of the tree leaving several layers of fruit that may not be of optimum marketable size.

It is recommended that these layers be thinned by hand pruning removing medium sized limbs, as soon as possible after harvest. Annual pruning should always be considered to enhance fruit size.

The upper part of the canopy tends to be more open, setting less fruit that tends to be larger; therefore pruning this part of the canopy will not be so critical.


Crop Density

 It is important to have a balanced crop density and to measure it regularly every season to maintain the best yields, size and quality.

The optimum count frame is 4 to 6 fruits per frame (0.5 x 0.5 x0.5 m). If density is significantly higher, it will be important to remove some of the fruitlets by direct hand pruning. This should be done as soon as possible after physiological fruit drop.


Foliar Sprays: Potassium Nitrate

 Regular foliar sprays with potassium nitrate will enhance fruit size development.

It is particularly important to apply potassium nitrate at the end of fruit set (early November in mid maturing areas) around the same time as the fruit size enhancing spray (2,4-DPp Corasil).

Regular applications of potassium nitrate at 2% during summer are recommended when crops are heavy.


Foliar spray: Fruit Size Enhancing Spray (2,4-DPp Corasil)

 If a heavy fruit set is anticipated, an early Corasil spray when fruitlets are approximately 12 mm in average diameter will assist in removing the small fruit from the tree. If the anticipated fruit set is moderate, then spray when fruitlets are larger (18 –20 mm). It has been found inSouthern Australiathat the optimum rate for increasing fruit size on navels is 200 ml per100 litres. Refer to the product label and always trial rates and timing on a small area before treating large areas.

The effect of this spray on fruit quality will be minimal and should increase fruit size by up to one count.


Foliar Spray: Copper

 As mentioned, the M7 is very vigorous and can quickly become deficient in micro nutrients, particularly copper. Regular applications of copper will reduce this incidence and will not have any commercial impact on production and quality.

Any high grade copper at 25% of the label rate could be added at every foliar spray.


Nutrition: Fertigation

 The most important demand for nutrition is during the spring flush, fruit set and cell division.

In general, M7 compared with other navel varieties will require an increase in the fertiliser rates during spring flush (September – October) by 50% and during cell division (November – December) by 50%. Fruit quality should be monitored in case this strategy needs adjustment. Always refer to annual leaf analysis results as an overall guide.

The fertiliser program should be completed by early February to allow the fruit rinds to smooth out.

For a normal cropping situation on mature trees, the fertiliser program should be around 100-120 units of N, 30-45 units of P and 120-150 units of K.


Indicative fertigation nutrient application program



Following very heavy crops, an N-P-K post-harvest fertiliser application of 10 to 25 units of N, P and K is recommended.


Others: Flower Pruning, Hand Thinning

 If at flowering time, there is a very heavy bloom, it may be advisable to prune lightly (by cutting only small flowering branches) to thin out part of the bloom.

If at the end of fruit drop (early January in mid maturing areas) there are still excessive fruitlets, some pruning directed to thin the excessive crop may be advisable.

If despite best practice, there is still an excessive crop in late January; consideration could be given to some hand thinning to remove the smallest fruit. This however, along with pruning at the end of fruit drop, should not be necessary if the above procedures are followed.


Disclaimer: Information in this document is provided as a guide and is of a general nature only. The information is subject to change by Chislett Developments Pty Ltd at any time without notice. The information is not to be relied upon as being complete, accurate or up to date or to serve as the sole basis of citrus orchard management. Primary references and full citrus orchard management principles, including labels and application instructions for fertilisers, sprays and chemicals, should be consulted.

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