Orange trees are popular for cultivators because of their relatively predictable life cycle. Oranges are very popular for consumers and generally require little more maintenance than fertilization and protection from pests or disease. They are quick-growing trees that can take as little as four years before edible fruit is produced.
Orange trees develop slowly during their first year after being planted. They require adequate nutrients, such as nitrogen and potassium, and enough moisture to survive while they are the most susceptible to infestation, illness and death. Climate, spacing between trees, and quality of nutrients and rootstock will vary the individual growth rate of trees.
Usually it takes two years for an orange tree to begin its reproductive cycle after being planted. The seasonal flowering of oranges will take place typically right after the winter months when warmer temperatures come in. After more than 300 hours of at least 68 degrees Fahrenheit, flowering will commence. Trees in tropical regions experience multiple periods of flowering every year.
Many of the flowers drop immediately after opening, limiting the percentage of orange fruits developed. During the 12 weeks after pollination, large amounts of fruits will begin to drop from the tree, although it takes approximately seven to 14 months for the fruit to properly develop.
Climate is the biggest factor affecting the growth of orange trees. The warmer the climate, the faster the growth cycle and the more often pollination occurs. Adequately feeding and spacing the trees will strongly determine their growth rate and overall health.
After 10 to 14 years following planting orange trees typically reach their maximum height and size. Once this maturity is reached, the fruiting ability begins to decline. Although their overall expected life span is just above a hundred years, some trees have been known to produce fruit for as long as 250 years.