I "inherited" an orange tree with our house. People tell me to buy citrus nutrients, but haven't yet. I have chicken that free range, and was hoping there their nitrogen is good for the tree. Poop goes right on top in an open pile. But, surely I'm missing other nutrients? The oranges aren't that sweet.
You might consider calcium (basic alkaline chalk). OK for chickens and grit, and sweeten up soil. Orchard fruit trees like the sweetness. Might also help your tartness. Definitely picks up the greenery and lushness.
Chicken poop is low and slow N-K-P number nutrition (~05-~05-~05), that are useful for rainwater leaching into soil. Good on the topsoil.
If you do use citrus nutrients, and it is suggested, then dig double-shovel deep holes and put nutrients subsurface and cover back up. Then tree gets nutrients and chickens not an issue. Dig holes at the rain line perimeter of the tree, outmost leaf perimeter, where the feeder roots are located.
John, just now seeing your replay. Don't know why I don't get notifications. My soil has tons of oyster shells, from the shells I scatter for the chickens. Does that have calcium? I suppose I can get the calcium from Dale's? I really wish I had read this post sooner because my oranges are tart this season. :( To be honest, I don't even know what variety they are and weather I should wait for more sun. They're starting to fall off, though not that many.
Regans has micronized sulfur (and fungicide) that i have applied to my citrus mandarin. clementine. and valencia orange. Citrus. like blueberries. azaleas. rhododendrons. gardenias like acid ph soil. Double dig this around dripline out of chicken peckers ability.
How are you doing with scattering alfalfa pellets around entire root area. alfalfa is a nitrogen source. but also has growth hormones.
How are you doing with monthly deep cycle watering ... most especially during the fruiting cycle. it may come down to not enough water ballooning up citrus. therefore they have the same pucker power in a smaller orange. versus a fully watered and less tart big orange.
i would also suggest that you leave them on the tree longer and the tartness and sunshine will turn them veeeerrrry orange and very sweet.