ONE INTERESTING fruit grower in Davao City is 35-year-old Vicente Ferrazzini. He is by no means the biggest and most high-tech fruit producer but what impressed us most are 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 is not the number but the way they are being grown. They are five to six years old now and are 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 could readily see, however, that the dwarf trees are 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 is usually pruned three feet from the ground and the branches are allowed to develop all around. The low-growing crown is wide-spreading and well distributed. The middle is not allowed to grow too dense so that sunlight reaches 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 tells us that his calamansi trees are fruiting the whole year round. From the trees we saw in his farm in Brgy. Communal, he is harvesting two times a week, each time picking five to six sacks of 20 kilos per sack.
He disclosed that when there is a glut in the Manila market, like when the Mindoro producers are having their peak harvest, the price gets very low.
WHEN PRICES ARE LOW – What he does when this happens is to harvest just the ripe ones and retails them in the local market at P5 per kilo lower than the other retailers are selling. There are times when he retails his produce at just P10 per kilo.
Not long after, however, better prices usually return. Especially when Christmas is nearing and the produce from Mindoro is not that much anymore.
EASY TO HARVEST – The beauty about dwarfed calamansi trees, Ferrazzini points out, is 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 is also very easy to do with low-growing trees.
FERTILIZATION – To be fruitful, Ferrazzini fertilizes his trees adquately. He applies to each tree half a sack of chicken manure. In addition, he also applies a mixture of chemical fertilizers two times a year.
He mixes five sacks of complete ferilizer (14-14-14) with one sack of urea and another sack of micromate (trace elements). He mixes the three thoroughly and then applies one kilo of the mixture to each tree two times a year.
The calamansi plantation is well manicured. He keeps the grasses low with a mower.
AGRI GRADUATE – Vicente Ferrazzini, by the way, is an agriculture graduate of the Ateneo de Davao. He has 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 is 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 has been more supportive with the capital needed to develop their farms. Another is in Catigan, Davao City.
EXPANSION – He has since planted 800 mango trees which have started to bear fruit. He has also gone into lakatan banana (12,000 plants so far when we interviewed him), and is going to expand his mandarin orange plantation. He has a few hundred mandarin trees that are heavily fruiting. Another project he is going into commercially is lanzones. He has only 20 fruiting lanzones trees but he will be planting many more under coconuts.