Name: citrus limon (rutaceae)
Distribution: sub-tropical regions
Australian distribution: lemons are grown in most mainland Australian states and territories.
The lemon tree is evergreen and small. Tree size will depend on the environment, the type and how it is managed.
Lemon tree leaves are green with narrow, winged leaf stalks.
The flowers are small and have a strong and pleasant smell.
The fruit is yellow, oval-shaped when cut lengthwise and has a distinctive tip.
Lemon trees prefer low to moderate rainfall with cool winters and warm to hot and dry summers.
In the NT, fast growing and early maturing lemon trees are best. You may need to water them during the dry season.
Lemon trees will grow in a range of soils. They do well in soils of a medium texture at moderate depth with good drainage. They like fertile soil with a slightly acid pH and low salts.
There are many lemon varieties available. They should be chosen to suit the area where they are grown.
The Eureka lemon is one of the main commercial lemon varieties grown in the NT.
The Lisbon lemon is also one of the main commercial lemon varieties grown in the NT.
Lisbon lemon trees are more vigorous and have denser foliage than eureka lemon trees. They are also very thorny.
The Meyer lemon is a lemon-orange hybrid. It does not have the same flavour as true lemons. The trees are small and produce fruit almost all year. They are better suited to backyard planting.
Lemon trees grow best as grafted plants rather than seedlings. Grafted trees should be bought from accredited nurseries.
In the NT, trees need to be pruned from a young age for good branch structure. Trees need to be watered in the dry season.
Timing of fertilising with nitrogen is important.
There are several pests and diseases that affect lemons in the NT, including:
- citrus canker
- citrus leaf miner
- red scale
- oriental spider mite
- fruit piercing moth
- root rot
- collar rot.
You will need to look after your lemons to reduce crop loss or damage.
Backyard lemon trees may flower and fruit all year round.
In the Darwin and Katherine regions, the main fruiting period is from the middle of February to the end of April.
Lemons can be ripe while the rind is still green.
Lemons will keep for three months if stored at 12 degrees Celsius.
You can extend shelf life up to six months by alternating the temperature between 2 Celsius for three weeks and 13 degrees Celsius for one week.
Lemon flesh has high acid content. It is used to flavour and garnish food or drink, cordials and syrups. Other uses are as a source of peel or zest, oil, acid and essences.
Last updated: 08 October 2018
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