Tips in growing Pummelo


In growing pummelo for commercial purposes, there are many factors to look at in order to become successful and earn a profit. Zac B. Sarian, the editor of Agriculture magazine shares these pointers on how to grow pummelo for business.

Right Variety

Most important consideration is to plant only superior varieties of pummelo. There are many strains of selections but only a few are recommended for commercial production. Some are very sour. Others have acrid taste. There are also varieties whose flesh does not readily separate from its cover. The desirable varieties have sweet and juicy fruits, seedless or with few seed, and whose flesh is easy to extract. Magallanes and Nenita are the most popular commercial varieties. Plant only grafted or budded planting materials.

Soil Requirement

Plant pummelo in the open sun. The best soil is one that is rich in organic matter and well drained. It could also be grown in not-so-rich soil but the planting hole should be around two feet in diameter, two feet deep and filled with topsoil and compost or old animal manure. If the land is flat, drainage canals should be provided.

Care of Young Trees

At planting time, 200 grams of complete fertilizers or ammonium phosphate should be placed in the planting hole. Keep down weeds around the young plants, especially the vines that could smother them. Mulch them with rice straw or some other materials to keep down the weeds as well as to conserve moisture. Watch out also for leaf-eating insects. They particularly love to eat the young leaves. Control them by spraying insecticide.

Care of Fruiting Trees

Keep young fruit trees well nourished. One sack (50 kilos) of old chicken manure or some other organic fertilizer could be spread under the canopy every six month. In general, two to three kilos of chemical fertilizers per tree may be applied three to four times a year. The fertilizer should be balanced. Don't apply too much nitrogen, especially at fruiting time because the fruits will develop very thick skin and the eating will not be good.
Flowering could be induces by stressing the trees for a month by not watering them. After stressing, irrigate the trees copiously. That will be followed by the emergence of flowers. From then on, maintain adequate moisture in the soil. If moisture is lacking, the fruitless will fall. The fruits that don't fall will be small and of inferior quality. Lack of soil moisture in the ripening stage will make dry flesh. Not juicy at all.

Pruning

Remove the diseased and weak branches. Also thin out the excess fruits so bigger fruits will develop. There are instances when fruits come in clusters. Remove the smaller ones. Because the fruits are heavy, the branches may break due to the weight of the fruits. To avoid breakage of branches, they should be properly propped with bamboo poles or some other materials.

Serious Pests

There are two serious pests of pummelo. These are rind borer and fruitfly. Rind borer makes the fruits ugly because it causes lumps on the rind. On the other hand, the fruitfly deposits its eggs on the fruits and when the eggs hatch, the fruits will get damaged. Damage could be total. Control of these pests could be made by regular sprayings with chemical pesticides. Besides chemical sprays, the fruitfly could be eliminated with the use of a fruitfly trap with pheromone lure. This may not totally eliminate the fruitfly population, though.
There may come a time when fruitfly and the rind borer become resistant to chemical sprays. Some people resort to organic practices of farming. One such fellow is Greg Tan of Davao City. You can read how he grows pummelo organically in the January 2008 issue of Agriculture magazine published by the Manila Bulletin and written by Dr. Pablo P. Pamplona.

Common Disease Problem

Gummosis is a common occurrence in pummelo trees that are now well cared for. This could be a sign of inadequate fertilization. When this occurs, scrape the gum that have oozed from the trunk and branches then paint the same with a paste of fungicide. At the same time, fertilize the tree with organic as well as complete chemical fertilizer. Also, maintain adequate moisture in the soil.

Harvesting

The fruits are usually harvestable about eight months from fruit set. The rind becomes light green. Do some sample harvesting to see if the fruits are already ready for picking. In commercial farms, the harvested fruits are washed to remove the dirty or sooty marks on the fruits. A small amount of fungicide is mixed with the water to prevent fungal growth. After washing, the fruits are wiped dry with soft cloth or air-dried under the shade. Then they are packed for the market.

Source: Zac B. Sarian, Agriculture magazine

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