Best Growing Practices for Loquat

By H.M. Bilal, Dr. Rashad M. Balal, Mujahid Ali

(Department of Horticulture, College of Agriculture, UOS)

Fruit production is becoming popular in Pakistan. Progressive growers have great opportunity to gain more profit than agronomic crops to establish an orchard. Orchard is long-term business and it gains more profitable when minor fruits are grown. So, to know management practices is very important. Loquat (Eriobotrya japonica) belong to family Rosaceae and genus is Eriobotrya. Loquat is potentially important minor commercial fruit as well as have medicinal use and other purposes. This fruit is grown in the cooler subtropical region of the world. Native to the cooler hill regions of China to south-central China. Loquat is also known as the Japanese plum and chines plum. In Pakistan, it is found in sub-mountainous districts of Punjab like as Lahore, Gujranwala, Jhelum, and Rawalpindi. And Mardan District in NWFP. Loquat varieties are not common, but a few varieties are golden yellow, Thames pride, Tanaka, and improved golden yellow. The nutritional value of loquat per 100 gram is the. energy 197 kJ (47 kcal), carbohydrates 12.14 g, fat 0.2 g, protein 0.43 g, vitamin A 10%, Vitamin B 2%, Vitamin C 1%, calcium 16mg, Iron 28mg, magnesium 23mg, phosphorous 27mg, potassium 266mg, sodium 1mg, zinc 0.05mg. Loquat fruit arrives in the market when citrus fruit is finished, and mango is yet to ripen. Although filled with large seed constitute 2/3 fruit, they bring a good income because of the timing of ripening and marketing.

Loquat (Eriobotrya japonica) is a large evergreen shrub or small tree, with a rounded crown, short trunk, and woolly new twigs. loquat tree can grow to 5.5-9 meters. But it is often smaller, about 4-5 meters. The loquat fruit ripens during spring to summer it depends upon the climate and temperature of the area. The leaves are long 4-10 in inches, dark green in color, Leathery in texture, and the loquat leaves are alternate and with a serrated margin. In loquat tree, flowers are white in color and small size with sweetly fragrant. The simple flower buds bloom into branched panicles at the end of the new shoots during November – December. The loquat flower has 5 sepals, 5 petals, 5 carpel each with 2 ovules, and 20 stamens. Loquat fruit color is pale-yellow. And each loquat fruit contains one to ten ovules, with three to five being most common. When the variable number of ovules are mature it converts into large brown seeds. In fruit 2-3 seeds are present and seed size is 4-5 cm. The loquat fruit is the sweetest in taste when it will soften and pale- yellow in color. Its flavor is like a mixture of peach, citrus, and mild mango.

Loquat tree performs well in the mild climate of sub-tropical regions where the average rainfall is 50-100 mm. where the climate and temperature are to cool and excessively warm and moist the loquat tree is grown as an ornamental, but it will not bear the fruit. Early onset of hot summer winds causes the sunburn and poor development of the fruit and faulty ripening of the fruit. Loquat tree requires bright sunshine and mild environment for the proper development of size and sweetness and flavor. The well establishes loquat tree can tolerate the low temperature at the 12F. The killing temperature for the flower bud is about 19F. And for the mature flower about 26F. And also at the 25F, the seed is killed causing the fruit to fall. The loquat tree is fairly tolerating to drought and forest, but hot desiccating winds can easily kill the stem. And the tree will die.

The loquat tree is successfully grown on a wide range of soil from light sandy loam to heavy soil. For loquat tree, the ideal soil is a well-drained light loam. For the loquat tree, the Sub-soil containing gravel and a high percentage of calcium is unfit for loquat production. Ample water supply and effective drainage are important for commercial cultivation of the loquat fruit. Loquat trees are drought tolerant, but it will produce a higher quality of fruits when we apply the regular and deep watering. The trees should be watered at the time of swelling of blooms. About 2-3 watering should be given during harvesting time. The loquat tree will not tolerate standing water.

Loquat tree is propagated by both methods sexual and A-sexual. Loquat is commonly propagated through seed. Although the seedling takes a long time to bear and is not true to type fruits are produce. The seedling is planted during the fruit ripening period. Generally, seeds are used for propagation only when the tree is grown for ornamental purpose or also use as a rootstock. After removal of fruit, the seed is washed and planted in the pots and flats. Then transplanted when its height is 6-7 inches. When the stem is 1/2-inch-thick at the base the seedlings are ready to be top-worked. Loquat tree can be propagating by various techniques. Propagation may also be by cutting, layering, budding, and grafting. Propagation by cutting is difficult, and the success ratio is quite low, while layering is easy and satisfactory. Shield budding using loquat or quince seedling as rootstock is preferred, as easier and the success ratio is higher. In loquat A-sexual propagation is carried out during Feb-March and July-Aug.

           Loquat tree orchards are planted in the square system during Feb- March, and Sep-Oct. Planting distance is 5-8 m depending upon the rootstock. For a good crop, loquat tree requires copious irrigation, but they cannot tolerate standing water. Trees may do well with even a little water, except during the fruiting season when enough moisture is required for good fruit. As with other evergreen fruits, is restricted to the removal of dead, diseased, or otherwise unwanted wood. And also Thinning of fruit may be practiced on heavily bearing trees to get large sized fruits. Manuring and fertilizers are important for commercial loquat orchards. To get a good crop, 50 kg of well-rooted FYM mixed with 2kg of bone meal and 5kg of wood ash should be added to each bearing tree every year. Green manure can also be plowed in during the rainy season. And also chemical fertilizer N:P:K ratio of 750:300:750 grams/plant should be applied.

Loquat tree starts bearing fruits 3rd year of the plantation and gives maximum yield. The loquat fruits usually take two months after the fruit set. Choose loquats with smooth, firm, unbroken skin free of bruises and blemishes. Some loquats may have a brown, freckled surface. Store the loquats fruit in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. The average yield is obtained from loquat is 15-20 kg/tree. Yield is depending upon soil, climate, temperature, environment, and cultural practices.

 

The loquat fruit and leaves include pectin, iron, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C, and fiber, which make it very effective for boosting overall human health. And, some other medical uses lower blood pressure, lowers cancer risk, prevents diabetes, controls cholesterol levels, strengthens bones, soothes respiratory system, boosts immunity, Aids in digestion, Regulates circulatory system.

The insect pest of loquat is the bark eating caterpillar. Bark eating caterpillars cause huge damage to loquat trees. Caterpillars feed on the bark and make tunnels in the trunk. Due to tunneling, girdling is caused, which may kill the plant. And also the Fruit fly is the insect pest of loquat. At fruit maturity, fruits are attacked by fruit fly. On hatching, maggots bore into the fruits and feed on the pulp. The infested fruits become unfit for human consumption. And reduce the yield and economic value.

The disease of loquat is the shoot/fruit blight and bark canker. The canker appears on bud scars, twigs or in crotches. Small circular brown spots appear around a leaf scar or superficial wound. As the canker enlarges the centers become sunken with the surrounding healthy bark. The fungus perpetuates itself on the trees in bark cankers. And another disease is the Collar Rot. It is caused by Phytophthora species. Some are of the view that it is caused by Diplodia natalensis. The fungus produces canker from ground level to point from where scaffolds emerge. The rot girdles the trunk for 2-3 years. Affected trees flower profusely. The foliage becomes yellowish green. The tree shows wilting and ultimately dry up completely. And also the root rot/white rot is the disease of loquat. It is caused by a fungus polyporus palustrisis. The affected trees show symptoms of wilt during early leaf fall and increased fruit set. The fruiting bodies appear when the rot is well advanced. By following these recommended practices, we can get a good and profitable yield.

Salient Features of Date Palm Cultivation

By Mubashir Hafeez, Mujahid Ali, Dr. Rashad M. Balal

(Horticulture, College of Agriculture, UOS)

Date palm is among oldest fruits mentioned in history. Prophet Muhammad (SAW) liked this fruit. Narrated Anas bin Malik: Allah’s Apostle never proceeded (for the prayer) on the Day of ‘Id-ul-Fitr unless he had eaten some dates. Anas also narrated: The Prophet used to eat the odd number of dates. (Sahih Al-Bukhari – Book 15 Hadith 73). Narrated Sad: Allah’s Apostle said, “He who eats seven ‘Ajwa dates every morning, will not be affected by poison or magic on the day he eats them.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari – Book 65 Hadith 356). Highly nutrition fruit having a lot of calories. Fruits are very beneficial for our health. They keep our body healthy and tight. Date palm fruit process high nutritional therapeutic value. In addition, with significant anti-oxidant, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-proliferative properties. Also contains the properties with potential anti-cancer activity and resveratrol is reported to extend lifespan and provide cardio-neuro-protective anti-diabetic effects. Dates serve directly as a food source. Date palm is the oldest tree cultivated on earth. They are an excellent source of calcium, sugar, iron, and potassium. They are used in many social and religious festivals. Also, they have many health benefits like reliving constipation, reduce heart disease, control diarrhea and help in pregnancy. It is also used for making different products such as Chutney, pickles, jam, juice and other bakery items.

Date palm has a fibrous root system that originates from a bulb at the trunk base. The primary roots have an average length of 4 meters and may extend to 10 meters in light soils. Primary roots give rise to secondary roots that further branch to form tertiary roots that are shorter in length and diameter. The trunk of the date palm is a single, vertical cylinder of equal (average 1 m) throughout its length that reaches 30 m. The stem is covered with leaf bases that are enclosed in fiber. Date palm leaves, called fronds, are pinnate, compound leaves spirally arranged around the trunk. The fully mature is 4 m long, but ranges from 3 to 6 m, and is 0.5 m wide at the middle midrib that narrows towards both leaves end. Date palm is a dioecious plant where pistillate and staminate flowers are born on separate plants. Male and female flowers are arranged in strands that attach to a rachis forming an inflorescence called spadix. A bract, called spathe, enclosing the immature inflorescence, splits longitudinally at anthesis, which allows for the pollination. Male spathes shorter and wider than female spathes which contain 10,000 to 15,000 flowers having sweet scent while female spathes are longer and thinner than male spathes which contain 2000 to 3000 beads like flowers.

It is mostly cultivated in Muslim countries. Top producing countries are Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Algeria, Pakistan, Sudan, Oman, UAE, Tunisia. Most common varieties are Ajwa, Mabroom, Hillawi, Khardrawi, Zaidi, Aseel, Dhaki, Shakri, Hussaini, Berni, Shamran (Sayer), Wild date palm, Jamli, Khalas, Begum, and Jangi. Fruits of date palm, called dates, develop from one fertilized ovule forming one carpal, while the other two ovules are aborted but remain visible at the fruit calyx. Fruit size is varying in size, weight 2- 60 g, length 18-110 mm, and girth 8-32 mm. Its single seed weight has 0.5-4 g, length 12-36 mm, girth 6-13 mm and has a groove and its hard endosperm composed of cellulose. In Pakistan, it is mostly cultivated in Sindh province. Sakhar, a city of Sindh, has its biggest market.

Inland preparation, plow land thoroughly for twice to thrice times and bring soil to a fine tilth. Then we level the soil. Dig pits of 1m x 1m x 1m size in the summer month. Keep open these pits for two weeks and then fill it by adding well decomposed fertile soil. Some important climatic factors that can affect the yield and quality of fruit are temperature, rainfall, humidity, light, and wind. The normal requirement for date palm cultivation is high temperature, much sunlight, low humidity, low rainfall and absence of high winds. It can tolerate quite a low temperature, but the growth will have ceased below 10°C. It is resistant to heat and may tolerate up to 58°C for short period. The prevailing temperature during ripening: 45-50°C, blooming occurs only when the temperature rises above 18°C. That’s why earlier varieties are produced where the temperature first rises above 18°C, where it is attained later, late fruit production. Fruit setting and fruit development take place only when the temperature is above 25°C. date palm grows well in light, deep, well-drained soils. Rocky, calcareous soils and compact soils are not suitable for its cultivation. It may also grow on soil affected by salinity, but highly saline soils are not suitable for its commercial cultivation.

The date palm can propagate both sexually and asexually. Through seed don’t produce true-to-type fruit and take a longer time to bloom. While asexually it is propagated through suckers that generally emerge from an underground part of the stem. Rooted suckers carefully removed and from mother plant for further propagation. Suckers weighing 18-20 kg or 3-5 years old propagate successfully. Suckers removal times is Feb – March or August- September and are planted in the square system at 7 m which require 3% male trees at various location in orchards for successful propagation. The number of seedlings will be 112 if 8-meter distance kept among row to row and plant to plant. Then according to this method, 62 seedlings are suggested in one 1 acre of field. Seedling treatment is done by dipping shoots in Chlorpyrifos@5ml per one liter of water.

Water requirement of date palm tree varies with climatic conditions, water table, soil type and age of the plant. It needs more watering during fruit development and newly planted orchard require daily watering minimum once in a month. Already established orchards require watering during fruit development and once a month during rest of the year. Deep cultivation under and beside the tree should be avoided because it may damage its root system. Harrowing and slightly plowing is helpful to control the weeds. In summer irrigation is an interval of 10-15 days and in winter, it will be 30 the interval of 30-40 days.

No special pruning required except the removal of dropped leaves. In few vigorous tree and cultivars, gree found are also removed to decrease the effect of humid micro-environment around the fruiting branches. e.g. Deglet Noor. The removal of bunches is not practiced. Removal of spines decreases the puncturing of fruit growth and it will facilitate proper pollination. In fertilizer requirements, 20kg FYM is applied before plantation. During the age of 1-2-year, 1/4 kg urea is needed. For the 3-4 year: FYM, Urea, DAP, and SOP are applied 10 kg, 0.5 kg, 1/4 kg and 100 g respectively. While fruit-bearing tree requirements are different. At the age of 7-10-year-old, FYM (35-40 kg), Urea(2Kg), DAP (3/4 kg) and SOP (500 g) needed. At 12-year-old, 35-40 kg FYM, 3 Kg Urea, 1/5 kg DAP and 2 Kg SOP will be needed.

Vegetables, rice, brinjal, and gum can be used as for intercrop in date palm orchard. 4-5 years after planting, the 1st crop of the date palm is harvested. The 3 important harvesting stages are Khalal (Doka in Urdu), ripened stage or commonly known as pind and 3rd stage is final or dry stage known as Chuhara. Harvesting should be completed before the starting season of monsoon rainfall because rain is not good especially at harvesting or mature stage.

Salient Features of Pecan Cultivation

Waseem Sajjad*, Dr. Zaid Mustafa**, Mujahid Ali*

(*Horticulture, College of Agriculture, UOS; **Horticultural Research Station, Nowshera)

Allah has gifted us with lots of wealth in the form of agricultural productions. Agriculture is the basic need of world because without agriculture world can’t survive. Also, agriculture was the first occupation of man in the world. The first man ‘Adam’ when came on earth started his life with agriculture. So, it’s a precious gift for us by Allah. Now a day’s people are doing research in many fields of agriculture for the welfare of mankind. One of the fields in which agriculture scientists are working is pomology (fruits). Many have written different books on fruits. Pecan is also one of the minor fruits on which different articles have been written. Pecan (Carya illinoinensis) belongs to family Juglandaceae (hickory family) is native to Mexico and central region of United State. It is also called hickory nut or walnut. Georgia is at the top in production of pecan, but it is also grown in California, Florida, Mississippi and Hawaii. Pecans were one of the most recently domesticated crops. It is a 32-chromosome species that readily hybridizes with other 32 chromosome members of the Carya genus, such as Carya ovataCarya laciniosaCarya cordiformis and has been reported to hybridize with 64 chromosome species such as Carya tomentosa. Most such hybrids are unproductive. Hybrids are referred to as “hicans” to indicate their hybrid origin. A pecan, like the fruit of all other members of the hickory genus, is not truly a nut, but a drupe, a fruit with a single stone or pit, surrounded by a husk. The husks are produced from the exocarp tissue of the flower, while the part known as the nut develops from the endocarp and contains the seed. The seeds of the pecan are edible, with a rich, buttery flavor. They can be eaten fresh or used in cooking and particularly in sweet desserts. One of the most common desserts with the pecan is technically as a central ingredient is the pecan pie. The pecan tree is 20-40 m in height having alternate and pinnate leaves. Foliage is full green. Pecan nuts are a rich source of energy and contain minerals, vitamins, and anti-oxidants. Pecan trees are well adapted to sub-tropical regions and need short frosty winter and long scorching summer. Pecans perform best in well-drained soils having pH 6-7. They produce high yield when they are provided deep fertile soils and enough moisture. There are different cultivars grown all over the world. The most famous grown cultivars are Varton, Bester, Lakota, excel, headquarter, Adam-5 and Shooshani. Pecan trees may live and bear edible seeds for more than 300 years. They are mostly self-incompatible because most cultivars are clones derived from wild trees which show incomplete dichogamy. Generally, two or more trees of different cultivars must be present to pollinate each other. Pecans can be propagated both sexually and asexually. But the seed propagation is mostly used for seedling rootstocks. The first step in the method of propagation is to collect well-filled nuts and physically healthy having no any appearance of the disease. Then remove the husk and dry the nuts to remove the moisture content present in them so to avoid the chance of attack of any fungal disease. But all the moistures are not removed, there should be 5% moisture retained in them. Then with the help of different dormancy breaking methods, dormancy is broken down to help the pecans to germinate early. In Pakistan, pecans are mostly grown in subtropical, tropical and temperate regions. Pecans grown in northern areas of Pakistan are slightly different than grown in other regions. In temperate region’s their nuts are somehow harder to facilitate the performance against frost. Pecan trees are mostly pruned in winters or in summer during dormancy. Pruning is done to increase the vigor of other branches and to maximize the yield. Diseased branches are also removed with other weak branches. Pecan is harvested when the nuts are physiologically ripened and harvested at the time. Harvesting can be done by hand or by mechanical methods. While harvesting it must be sure that the branches do not break down with fruits, therefore, mechanical harvesting should be done. Many machines have been invented for the harvesting of nuts like pecan which may reduce the fruit lose and save the time also. Late harvesting may cause many problems like fruit fall and attack of diseases. Pecans are subjected to wide range of diseases, pests and physiological disorders which can reduce the yield. Pecans are affected by bacterial and fungal diseases, especially in humid areas. Many of the insects and worms feed on leaves, stem and developing nuts. The best season for harvesting is April to July. There are more than 500 pecan varieties with slightly distinctive characteristics like flavor, texture, size, color, shape etc. Most of the pecans in commercial production come from just a few major varieties. The most popular varieties are Cape fear, Desirable, Moreland, Stuart, and natives. Pecans can be stored at room temperature for about 6 months. They are attacked by some insects which can destroy the whole crop. The most common insects are stem borer, aphid, mites and powdery mildew. Pecan trees perform well in the adequate fertilized area. Before applying any fertilizer, the area under the trees must be cleaned by completely removing and destroying any fallen leaves, twigs, pecans and shucks. This type of sanitation performed weekly during the growing season will help to prevent the carry-over of certain diseases and break the life cycle of insects like the hickory shuck worm, twig, girdler and pecan weevil. Properly fertilize pecan trees in mid to late February. Without proper fertilization, pecan trees are more likely to have alternate bearing years as well as an early nut drop. A soil test will help to determine the soil pH and nutrient levels. Nutrients are most readily available at a soil pH of 6 to 6.5. In the absence of a soil test, broadcast 4 pounds of a complete fertilizer, such as 10-10-10 NPK for each inch of trunk diameter (measured at 4 ½ feet above soil level). Do not place fertilizer in holes but broadcast fertilizer evenly beneath the canopy of the tree. Pecan trees also require zinc for proper growth and development as well as good nut production. Zinc deficiency causes a disorder known as rosette. Symptoms of rosette include bronzing and mottling of leaves, early defoliation, dead twigs at the top of the tree, abnormally small nuts, small, yellowish leaves and short thin twigs on older branches with rosettes (clusters) of small yellowish-green leaves at the tips. In general, 3 to 5 pounds of zinc sulfate can be applied to large trees each year to maintain proper zinc levels. Alternately, pecan tree fertilizer containing zinc can be applied. Many pecan fertilizers are available as 10-10-10 NPK with 2% zinc. Apply at the same rate mentioned above for 10-10-10 NPK. Pecans nuts are hard so, they can’t be broken down by hand therefore many machines have been invented for cracking of pecans. Now, the cracking machines are mostly used all over the world. The machine is of two types, electrical cracking machine which uses electricity and the other one is mechanical which doesn’t need electricity, and which can be operated by hand. Pecans can be used to obtain timbers and plywood for the construction of houses and shops. Their woods are strong enough to bear the weighs, so they are being used for many purposes. Pecans are rich source of different nutrients and minerals which are required by the body for good health. They contain protein, energy, fiber, amino acids, fats, starch, and sugar. Also, they contain thiamin, riboflavin, folic acid and vitamin A, B6, C and E. Pecans can give us lots of health benefits including cardiovascular health and digestive health. The fibers in pecan reduces the chance of heart cancer and reduces the risk of coronary heart diseases. Also inhibit the unwanted oxidation of blood lipids. The
fibers in pecans nuts strengthen the colon to work at a great level and help in cleaning the gastrointestinal system. They also prevent the constipation and help in digestion. Beside these benefits, they also help in weight loss, reduce the risk of breast cancer. They strengthen the teeth and bones and reduces the blood pressure. They are fruitful in losing weights although they contain fats, the reason is that they contain fiber and protein which may make one feel full for longer duration and thus help in lowering intake of other high calorie foods. They are also very helpful in preventing the formation of gallstone. We should promote the plantation of these fruits trees and we should protect these trees because we are consuming them in our daily life to full fill our daily needs. Our government should focus on the production of this fruit, where it can be grown easily and in return can earn big income. We are lacking good storage conditions, as dry fruits are not perishable, so these can be stored for long time and excess production can be exported.