PEELING MONEY OFF LOQUATS IN COMMERCIAL LOQUAT FARMING

Loquat is a 1ong-lived tree and orchards over 30 years old remain productive. Thus, location and site selection are important in planning orchards. In tropical regions, the tree thrives and fruits well at elevations between 900 and 1200 m, but bear little or not at all at lower levels .low temperature should be higher than -3°C, and high temperature not over 35°C. The tree requires 1000-1200 mm of rainfall annually and a suitable level of humidity. Soil should be deep and well drained, with an adequate content of organic matter. Sand loams or clay loams with a pH of 5.0 to 8.0 are considered appropriate, with pH 6.0 being optimum.

Nursery plants must be transplanted before the growth of spring buds, depending on climate. Leaves on the base of nursery plants are removed and the root system is often dipped in mud. Before planting, well-fermented manure is added to planting holes.

Loquats are planted at a density of about 500-600 trees/ ha, but some cultivars with vigorous and spreading character are established at about 450 trees/ha (about 5 m between rows and 4 m between trees).standard plant distance is 5 to 7. A spacing of 7 × 7 m is recommended on flat land, 8 × 5 (or 6) m on slopes.

 

Training and pruning

Loquat trees grow upright and too tall when proper training is neglected, often resulting in damage by strong winds and lower labor efficiency. The objective of pruning is to lower the bearing surface to facilitate fruit thinning and harvest. Overgrown branches of the tree crown are removed with shears or handsaws, and sprouts are removed or cut back.

Pruning is indispensable to reduce the number of bearing shoots and to secure sufficient flower buds. During the first 1 to 2 years after planting, pruning young trees by tipping shoots in excess of 2 to 3 ft., will increase branching.

Trees may be trained to a modified central leader or open center configuration. Mature trees may be selectively pruned to maintain trees at 6 to 12 ft. in height. This will make care of the tree and harvest easier

 

Soil management

Soil management in fruit planting is aimed primarily at weed control, but also is control concerned with retaining good soil structure by preventing compaction, and with the possible use of cover crops to improve fertility and prevent erosion. Weed control may be achieved by mechanical means (tillage, flailing, mowing, etc.) use of chemical herbicides, planted cover crops, or a combination of 2 or more of the above. The choice of method is determined by the nature of any critical problem in the specific planting. Cover crops are not often used in nonirrigated plantings because they compete with the fruit plant for moisture.

However, where irrigation is done, a permanent cover crop may be used to prevent erosion and to provide a firm base or orchard equipment when the soil is wet. Clover, alfalfa, or other legumes can be used to enrich the soil with nitro-gen.

 

Irrigation

Loquat, which can tolerate drought, is hardier than orange but not as hardy as fig. In general, loquat does not require irrigation, but when the fruits are maturing, sprinkler irrigation is carried out to reduce sunburn. Loquat trees are drought tolerant, but they will produce higher quality fruit with regular, deep watering. The trees should be watered at the swelling of blossoms and 2 to 3 waterings should be given during harvest. The trees can not tolerate standing water.

Newly planted loquat trees should be watered at planting and every other day for the first week or so and then 1 to 2 times a week for the first couple of months. For the first 3 years, they should be watered once a week during prolonged dry periods (e.g., 5 or more days of little to no rainfall.

Once the rainy season arrives, watering should be reduced or stopped. Once loquat trees are 4 or more years old, watering should occur during fruit development and prolonged dry periods. Over-watering may cause trees to decline or be unthrifty.

Like all trees, loquat need frequent watering during the first few months after planting. But once established they have good drought tolerance. Only occasional watering is needed to keep them attractive. Regular watering, however, is necessary to produce good fruit.

Although loquat is remarkably drought-resistant for a broadleaved evergreen, it needs moisture at all times. After the tree is established, irrigation water should be kept away from the trunk. As the tree matures, irrigate closer than half the distance between the trunk and the outer reach of the branches should not take place. If the tree is 6 to 8 feet from a lawn or other irrigated area, it does not usually need special irrigation

 

Post-harvest Challenges

The physiological alterations that loquat may undergo during storage are flesh browning and “russeting”. They are also affected by diverse fungi, causing rots like Botrytis cinerea, Colletotrichum gloeosporioides, Pestalotiopsis funerea and Phytopthora cactoarum.

Internal browning: this alteration is characterized by a darkening of the flesh, followed by the tissues decay. This phenomenon is favoured by high temperatures and long storage. It is also caused by high concentrations of carbon dioxide.

“Russeting”: consisting of brown-coloured spots in the skin, that diminishes their commercial value. It occurs in the field, and it depends on the variety, the season and the climatic conditions.

Among the most important diseases occurring during storage are the fungi Botrytis cinerea, Colletotrichum gloeosporioides, Pestalotiopsis funerea and Phytopthora cactoarum, especially in rainy areas. These pathogens cause various rots that affect the fruit. The strategies to control them include careful handling so as to avoid damages in the fruit, fast cooling and optimal storage conditions.

 

 

 

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