Sunday, May 24, 2009

Citrus Cultivation and its Basics

India ranks sixth in the production of citrus fruit in the world. Other major citrus producing countries are Spain, USA, Israel, Morocco, South Africa, Japan, Brazil, Turkey and Cuba. It occupies third position after mango and banana in the production of fruits in India. Citrus fruits originated in the tropical and sub tropical regions of South East Asia , particularly India and China. North East India is the native place of many citrus species. It is of particular interest because of its high content of vitamin C and refreshing juice. Of the various types of citrus fruits grown in India, orange (mandarin or santra), sweet orange (mosambi, malta or satgudi) and lime/lemon are of commercial importance. Lime or acid lime is also commercially known as 'Pati lime' or 'Kagzi lime'. Sweet orange is commercially important for production of palatable juice. In India, citrus fruits are primarily grown in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Karnataka, Uttaranchal, Bihar, Orissa, Assam and Gujarat.


Citrus can grow well in wide range of soils. Soil properties like soil reaction, soil fertility, drainage, free lime and salt concentrations, etc. are some important factors that determine the success of citrus plantation. Citrus fruits flourish well on light soils with a good drainage. Deep soils with pH range of 5.5 to 7.5 are considered good. However, they can grow in pH range of 4 to 9. Presence of calcium carbonate concentration within feeding zone may adversely affect the growth. Light loam or heavier but well drained sub-soils appears to be ideal for citrus.


The sub-tropical climate is the best suited for citrus growth and development. Temperature below - 40C is harmful for the young plants. Soil temperature around 250C seems to be optimum for root growth. Dry and arid conditions coupled with well defined summer having low rainfall (ranging from 75cm to 250 cm) are most favourable for the growth of the crop. High humidity favours spread of many diseases. Frost is highly injurious. Hot wind during summer results in desiccation and drop of flowers and young fruits. Darjeeling Mandarin (Khasi Orange type) grows in altitude upto 2000m as it is adapted to a cooler climate.


The important varieties of different types of citrus and their respective suitable regions are as under:
1. Mandarin Orange : Kurg (Kurg& Wyned regions), Nagpur (Vidharba region), Darjeeling (Darjeeling region), Khasi (Meghalaya region), Sumthira (Assam), exotic variety - Kinnow (Nagpur, Akola regions, Punjab & adjoining States).
2. Sweet Orange : Blood Red (Haryana , Punjab & Rajasthan), Mosambi (Maharashtra), Satgudi (Andhra Pradesh), exotic varieties - Jaffa, Hamlin & Pineapple (Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan), Valencia.
3. Lime/Lemon :
Acid Lime : Pramalini, Vikram,Chakradari,PKM1,Selection 49, Seedless lime, Tahiti
Sweet Lime: Mithachikra , Mithotra
Lemon : Eureka, Lisbon, Villafranca, Lucknow seedless, Assam Lemon, Nepali Round, Lemon 1
Among Mandarin oranges , Nagpur is the most important variety.
Mosambi arrives early to mid season and sweeter but less juicy variety Satgudi arrives early in the market.
Pramalini, Vikram and PKM1 are highly cluster bearing acid limes developed by ICAR.

Selection of site

The site selected should preferably be nearer to the market centres and roads, besides being agro climatically suitable. Windbreaks should be provided on the sides from which high winds are expected. Plants suitable for providing windbrakes are eucalyptus, jamun, mulberry, shisam, etc.

Planting Material
Planting material is produced by 'T' budding on good stalks like Rampur Lime or Sour Orange. Seedlings are also used in many areas. Nursery beds are prepared on light fertile soils. Selection is done by eliminating weaklings, off types and non uniform seedlings in 2-3 stages in the nursery beds. If certified budwood is not available for propagation, nucellar seedlings may be selected in the nursery beds as they are more vigorous, uniform and virus free. Seedlings may be grown in polythene bags also. They become ready for plantation in the main field after attaining the height of about 30-40 cm after one year.
Cutting and air layering are done in lemons.

Technology of Land Preparation

Land needs to be ploughed , cross ploughed and levelled. In hilly areas, planting is done on terraces against the slopes. In such land, high density planting is possible as aerial space available is more than that in flat land.

Plant density :
a. Orange:
Normal spacing - 6 m x 6 m ;
Plant population - 275 / ha
b. Sweet Lime :
Normal spacing - 5 m x 5 m ;
Plant population - 400 /ha
c. Lime/Lemon
Normal spacing - 4.5 m x 4.5 m ;
Plant population - 494 / ha
In very light soils, spacing may be 4 m x 4 m. In fertile soils and in high rainfall areas spacing may be 5 m x 5m.

Planting :

The best season of planting is June to August. Pits of the size of 60 cm x 60 cm x 60 cm may be dug for planting seedlings. 10 kg of FYM and 500 g of superphosphate may be applied per pit while planting. With good irrigation system, planting may be done in other months also.

Irrigation :

Citrus requires life saving watering in the first year during winter and summer. Irrigation improves the plant growth, flowering and fruiting in citrus. It also reduces the fruit crops and increases the fruit size. Under unirrigated condition chances of damage to spring blossom is high and the next crop maturing in October-November may be heavier. Diseases like root rot and collar rot may occur under over irrigated condition and if the collar region is wetted. Light irrigation with high frequency is beneficial. Irrigation water containing more than 1000 ppm salts is injurious. Quantity of water and frequency of irrigation depends on the soil texture and growth stage. Partial drying out of the soil in spring season may be acceptable.

Manures & fertilisers :

Citrus plants should be manured in three equal doses three times in a year in February, June and September. Depending on the soil , age and growth of plants, the dose varies.
The dose should increase every year proportionately to reach full quantity on the eighth year. Fertilisers are spread on the ground upto leaf drip and mixed with soil by light spading. Irrigation should be applied if there is moisture stress after application of fertilisers.
One or two sprays of micro nutrient mixtures may be given.

Interculture :

Ploughing, spading of basins, weed control, etc., are important inter-culture operations for soil aeration and health. Chemical control of weeds with weedicides like grammaxone, simazine, diurone, terbsal, etc. may also be adopted.

Intercrops :

Leguminous vegetables like cow peas, french bean, peas, etc., may be grown in citrus orchards. Intercropping is advisable only during the initial three years.

Trimming and Pruning :

In order to allow the growth of a strong trunk, all shoots in the first 40-50 cm from ground level developed in the early stage should be removed. The centre of the plant should remain open. Branches should be well distributed to all sides. Cross twigs and water suckers are to be removed early. The bearing trees require little or no pruning. All diseased, injured and drooping branches and dead wood are to be removed periodically for initiating citrus greening.

Pests and Diseases Management :
Pests : Important pests of citrus are citrus psylla, leaf miner, scale insects, orange shoot borer, fruit fly, fruit sucking moth, mites, etc. Other pests attacking citrus particularly mandarin orange, specially in humid climate are mealybug, nematode, etc.
Control measures of major pests are indicated below:
1. Citrus psylla: Spraying of malathion - 0.05% or monocrotophos - 0.025% or
2. carbaryl - 0.1%
3. Leaf miner : Spraying of phosphomidon @ 1 ml or monocrotophos @ 1.5 ml. per litre 2 or 3 times fortnightly.
4. Scale insects: Spraying of parathion (0.03%) emulsion, dimethoate 150 ml and 250 ml kerosene oil in 100 litre of water or malathion@ 0.1 % or carbaryl @ 0.05% plus oil 1%
5. Orange shoot borer: Maintaining the orchard clean, spraying of methyl parathion @ 0.05% or endosulfan @ 0.05% or carbaryl @ 0.2% during egg laying season.
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Diseases :

The important diseases of citrus are tristeza, citrus canker, gummosis , powdery mildew , anthracnose, etc.
Control measures of these diseases are stated briefly below:
1. Tristeza : Control of aphids and use of cross protected seedlings are recommended.
2. Citrus canker: Cutting of effected twigs followed by spraying of 1% Bordeaux mixture or copper fungicide. Aqueous solution of 500 ppm, streptomycin sulphate is also effective.
3. Gummosis : Scraping of the effected area and application of Bordeaux mixture or copper oxifluoride.
4. Powdery mildew :Dead twigs are to be pruned first. Wettable sulphur 2 g/litre, copper oxchloride - 3 g/litre of water may be sprayed in April and October.
5. Anthracnose : Dried twigs are pruned off first. This to be followed by two sprays of carbendazym @1 g/litre or copper oxy chloride - 3 g/litre fortnightly.

Harvesting :
Mature fruits are picked up in 2 - 3 cycles. There may be 2 or 3 crops in a year in summer, rainy season and autumn. Orange is picked when colour starts developing.

Yield :
1. Orange: Commences from the 4th/5th year with 40/45 fruits per tree. Stabilises in the 10th year. Average production is about 400-500 fruits per tree after stabilisation.
2. Sweet Orange : Commences from 3rd/4th year with 15 to 20- fruits per tree. Stabilises around the 8th year. Average production is about 175-250 fruits per tree after stabilisation.
3. Lime/Lemon : Commences from the 2nd/3rd year with 50-60 fruits per tree. Stabilises in the 8th year. Average production is about 700 fruits per tree after stabilisation.

Economic life of plantation :
Orange and sweet Lime - 25 to 30 years
Lime - 15 to 20 years

Post-harvest management :
Sweet orange and mandarin orange may be treated with etherel for degreening and development of colour. At low temperature below 250C low quantity of ethylene can set a change in colour. Pre-cooling of citrus is done by forced air system. Transit temperature for orange is 100C. The storage conditions for each group are stated below. Oranges may be packed in well ventilated CFB boxes - 30 cm x 30 cm x 30 cm. A mechanical citrus packing line for washing, sorting, size grading, fungicidal treatment for orange and then packing in CFB boxes is also available.

Storage conditions :
Mandarin Orange : Orange can be stored at 5-70C with 85-90 % RH for 4-8 weeks.
Sweet Orange : Sweet orange can be stored at 5-70C with 85-90% RH for 3-8 weeks.
Lime/Lemon: Lime and lemon can be stored for 6-8 weeks at 9-100C storage temperature with 80-90% RH. Limes are subjected to pitting after storage at temperature below 70C. Waxing lime reduces moisture loss. MH treatment may increase shelf life of kagzi lime.

Marketing and Export :
Oranges keep well for a long time under ambient conditions and hence can be transported to distant places for marketing. Citrus fruits are sold throughout the country. Several fruit processing units also purchase citrus fruits in bulk. Indian sweet oranges are exported to France, UK, Belgium, Indonesia, Netherland, SriLanka, Bangladesh and many other countries.
Limes are exported to UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh and few other countries.
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