ONE INTERESTING fruit grower in Davao City that we met several years back was Vicente Ferrazini who was 35-years old then. He was by no means the biggest and most high-tech fruit producer but what impressed us most were his farming ideas. Particularly in growing his calamansi.
He has not really made an actual count of his calamansi trees but there must be about 400 based on our estimate. Anyway, what matters most was not the number but the way they were being grown. They were five to six years old and were already in their peak years.
DWARFED – Unlike many other farms planted to the same crop that we have seen in other places, his calamansi trees are dwarf. He does not allow them to grow taller than six feet tall.
We readily saw, however, that the dwarf trees were as productive as the tall trees we have seen in other farms in Mindoro, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija and elsewhere.
WIDE-SPREADING BRANCHES – The main trunk of each tree was pruned three feet from the ground and the branches were allowed to develop all around. The low-growing crown was wide-spreading and well distributed. The middle was not allowed to grow too dense so that sunlight could reach every portion of the tree. Healthy trees, of course, are more productive and a lot cheaper to maintain than sick ones or those infested by a lot of insect pests.
FRUITING YEAR-ROUND – Ferrazzini told us that his calamansi trees were fruiting the whole year round. From the trees we saw in his farm in Brgy. Communal, he was harvesting two times a week, each time picking five to six sacks of 20 kilos per sack.
He disclosed that when there was a glut in the Manila market, like when the Mindoro producers were having their peak harvest, the price would get very low.
WHEN PRICES WERE LOW – What he does when this happened was to harvest just the ripe ones and retails them in the local market at P5 per kilo lower than the other retailers were selling. There were times when he retailed his produce at just P10 per kilo.
Not long after, however, better prices would usually return. Especially when Christmas was nearing and the produce from Mindoro was not that much anymore.
EASY TO HARVEST – The beauty about dwarfed calamansi trees, Ferrazzini pointed out, was that they are much easier to harvest. His workers don’t have to use a ladder to pick the fruits. With a pair of small scissors, they just pick the fruits very easily. And the trees don’t suffer from broken branches as a result of picking from tall branches.
The trees are also easier to spray with insecticide and foliar fertilizer. The worker who does the spraying just walks around doing his job. Pruning was also very easy to do with low-growing trees.
FERTILIZATION – To be fruitful, Ferrazzini fertilized his trees adequately. He applied to each tree half a sack of chicken manure. In addition, he also applied a mixture of chemical fertilizers two times a year.
He mixed five sacks of complete ferilizer (14-14-14) with one sack of urea and another sack of micromate (trace elements). He mixed the three thoroughly and then applied one kilo of the mixture to each tree two times a year.
The calamansi plantation was well manicured. He keept the grasses low with a mower.
AGRI GRADUATE – Vicente Ferrazzini, by the way, was an agriculture graduate of the Ateneo de Davao. He had always been in love with farming as far as he could remember.
PA NOT SUPPORTIVE – In the beginning, he could not, however, get the support from his father who was into a number of businesses in the city. His father has had a painful experience in his farming and thought agriculture was not a good business. it happened that he went into vegetable growing many years ago. He grew lots of vegetables but he could not sell them at a profitable price.
FINALLY CONVINCED – A few years back, however, Enteng was able to convince his father John that farming, if undertaken properly, could also be lucrative. This was when he took good care of their old pomelos and made P120,000 from just 50 trees.
Since then, Enteng said, his father had become more supportive with the capital needed to develop their farms. Another was in Catigan, Davao City.
EXPANSION – He had since planted 800 mango trees which had started to bear fruit. He had also gone into lakatan banana (12,000 plants so far when we interviewed him), and was going to expand his mandarin orange plantation. He had a few hundred mandarin trees that were heavily fruiting. Another project he was going into commercially is lanzones. He had only 20 fruiting lanzones trees but he will be planting many more under coconuts.