Very recently, a retired politician approached us. He wanted to go into commercial fruit farming. What strategy could we suggest?
If you are going into commercial fruit production, we told him, better concentrate on two major crops first. Those that have high value, are relatively easy to take care, have long shelf life, and are in demand in the market.
The politician has plenty of available land that could be developed into orchard. Land is no problem to him. Water is not a problem either. So he has the necessary land as well as the financial capability to undertake commercial production. What he needs is the right technology, which could be had with the right advisers or consultants.
And what did we recommend to him? For a number of good reasons, we suggested that he plant thousands of jackfruit like the latexless variety with plump orange flesh. And why jackfruit?
Jackfruit bears fruit any month of the year, depending on the care given to the trees. Thus supply can be throughout the year although there are also peak months.
Compared to mangoes, jackfruit has much less pest and disease problems. The mango is attacked by so many serious pests and diseases. You have to spray the mango trees to induce flowering. In the case of jackfruit, there is no need to spray flower inducers. Mangoes are also very perishable and the price can go very low during peak harvests.
Jackfruit sells at a high price in the local markets, even if the quality is not so good. We see sliced jackfruit in the market that are miserable-looking which are being sold at P50 per kilo.
One lady who has a thousand fruiting latexless jackfruit is so happy about her very fruitful trees. She does not only make money from ripe fruits. The thinnings are being sold as vegetable.
The lady is Mrs. Naty Abrigo of Calauan, Laguna. She said that her jackfruit trees are very fruitful because they are adequately fertilized with chicken manure and vermicompost. Because of profuse fruiting, she has to remove some of the young fruits for sale as vegetable. One sack, she says, sells for just P400 but then she sells so many sacks. And then the ripe fruits are her real money-maker. They command a high price from the viajeros who buy them in volume.
PUMMELO IN BIG VOLUME – The other crop that we recommended to the retired politician is to plant the superior varieties of pummelo like the two varieties from Vietnam, Nam Roi and Dha Xhan.
Why pummelo? There are a number of advantages. First, the pummelo with good eating quality is in big demand in the local market and they sell at a high price. Just go and observe at the SM or Robinsons supermarkets. The good kind sells at about P140 per kilo.
The pummelo has a long shelf life. You can store the fruits for a month without spoiling as long as proper precautions are observed. Under cold storage, the fruits could keep for six months.
Pummelos don’t require any spraying to induce flowering as in the case of mangoes. The flowers of pummelo are not destroyed by rain. Pummelos also bear fruit more than once a year. While some fruits are already getting mature, there are some new flowers that are emerging for the second crop.
You can plant more pummelos per hectare compared to mango. The latest recommendation in mango is to plant 12 to 14 meters apart. In the case of pummelo, planting 8 to 10 meters apart is good enough.
Of course, there are also some problems in pummelo production but these could be solved or avoided with the right technology. Gummosis is a common disease encountered by many planters. The main culprit is undernourishment. Many growers don’t fertilize their trees adequately so they are weak and are susceptible to gummosis.
Affected trees can be rehabilitated by scraping the gums on the trunk and branches and painting the same with fungicide. A preventive measure is to nourish the trees with balanced fertilization.
Another problem in pummelo production is the attack of fruitflies. This can be remedied by bagging the fruits when they are the size of a turkey egg. Rind borer is also a problem in some places. One remedy is to spray the trees against insects while they are starting to flower.
Also, one has to apply the right fertilizer at different stages of the plant growth. When the trees are fruiting, they should not be fertilized with too much nitrogen or their rind will become thick and the fruits become sour.