Introduction to Loquat Cultivation:
If you are planning to grow Loquat fruits, you can read the following Loquat Cultivation practices.
Tree of Loquat is a small ornamental tree producing fruits. This Loquat fruit belongs to the Rosaceae family. The scientific name of Loquat is Eriobotrya japonica. Loquat fruit is native to China. In ancient times, they were grown in the North Indian region. They are also grown in the Indochina region, the Mediterranean region and also in the new world subtropics. These are grown commercially and they thrive well in subtropical regions. It is an ornamental plant, so it is frequently seen in parks and gardens. These Loquat fruits can be used in preparation of jellies, jams, pies and sauces. Loquats are also known as Japanese plum and Chinese plum.
Characteristics of Loquat:
- Loquat tree: The tree of Loquat reaches up to a height of 5 – 10 m. When the tree is in developing stage, its height is 3 – 4 m.
- Loquat leaves: Leaves of Loquat tree are alternately arranged and are simple; leaf is 10 – 25 cm long and dark green in color with a leathery texture.
- Loquat flowers: Flowers of Loquat tree can be seen in autumn or in early winter, the flower is 2 cm in diameter, white in color with 5 petals; flower is hardy and has a sweet fragrance.
- Loquat fruit: Loquat fruit is oval, rounded or pear-shaped, they are 3 – 5 cm long, have smooth outer texture, they are yellow – orange in colour, but sometimes they are formed with red-blushed skin.
Properties of Loquat fruit:
Nutrients that are present in Loquat are:
- Energy: 47 col
- Fat: 0.2 g
- Protein: 0.43 g
- Carbohydrates: 12.14 g
- Minerals: Zinc, Calcium, Iron, Sodium, Potassium, Magnesium, Manganese and Phosphorous
- Vitamins: Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, and Folate B9
Cultivars/varieties of Loquat fruit:
- This variety originated in California.
- The fruit is medium in size; they are conical or round in shape.
- Flesh of the fruit is white in colour.
- Outer skin of California Advance fruit is yellow in colour.
- Fruit contains 2- 3 seeds.
Improved Pale yellow:
- This variety is an improved version of pale yellow, so this variety is named as improved pale yellow.
- They are yellow in color; the shape of this fruit is pyriform.
- Pulp of this fruit is sweet and sour in taste and texture of this fruit is creamy and thick.
- The fruit has 3 – 4 seeds.
- This variety of Loquat fruit is large in size.
- They are conical in shape.
- The flesh of this variety fruit is white in color; sour and sweet in taste.
- In this fruit 3–5 seeds are present.
- This variety is medium- large in size.
- Fruit is elliptical or pear like in shape.
- The skin of the fruit is thick and yellow in color.
- The texture of the fruit is creamy; flavor of the fruit is good.
- Flesh of the fruit is cream in colour, juicy in texture and taste is slightly acidic.
- In this fruit there are 3-4 seeds.
- The gold nugget fruit is large in size and oblong in shape.
- The skin of this variety is yellow-orange in color.
- Texture of the skin is tender.
- The pulp of the fruit is orange in color; they are fleshy and juicy in texture.
- The flesh of this fruit is sweet in taste.
- But this variety takes more time for maturity.
- Fruit contains 4-5 seeds.
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- This variety is fleshy variety.
- The size of this variety is large-medium in size.
- The shape of this fruit is pyriform or oval.
- The color of the skin is deep yellow in color; the texture of the skin is tough and thick.
- The flesh is very juicy and soft.
- This fruit is of good quality and taste is lightly acidic.
- Champagne Loquat is a late maturing variety.
- There are 3-4 seeds in this variety.
- This variety is small in size.
- They are oval in shape.
- The taste of this variety is sweet – sour.
- Skin is orange in color.
- In a fruit there are 3–4 seeds.
- This variety is attractive golden yellow in colour.
- The fruit of this variety is medium in size and has egg shape.
- Flesh of the fruit is yellow in colour; the taste is sour and sweet.
- In this fruit there are 3–5 seeds.
Soil and climate requirements for Loquat Cultivation:
The plant is considered hard; these can be grown in all varieties of soil conditions. A soil which is ideal for growing the Loquat is sandy loam or clay loam. But the plant can’t tolerate over water-logging. Loquat grows well in fertile soils. Plants grow well in moderate fertile soil, but for good yield some conditions should be avoided.
Loquat fruits grow well in harsh climates, northern India climate is considered suitable for growing the Loquat fruits. Lower hill climates are better for the plants and they perform well in the tropical climates. Temperatures below 0˚C in the hilly areas are also suitable for Loquats as they tolerate severe frost in the winter season. They can sustain well in heat and drought. The plant likes the warmer climate and during the dry season the fruits ripen well.
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Land preparation and planting for Loquat Cultivation:
Before planting, the land should be prepared. The land should be ploughed several times so that it attains smooth and fine texture. Well-decomposed manure should be provided to the land after ploughing. In the field drainage should be properly maintained so that the soil can drain the excess water. After manuring, the land should be left for one month for drying.
Planting process of Loquat is done in February – March and August – September. Distance of plants should be 6 – 7 m apart from each other and planting density also depends on the level of soil fertility. In a one hectare of land, 196–256 plants can be accommodated. The depth of the pit should be 1 m and diameter of the pit should also be 1 m.
Propagation method for Loquat Cultivation:
After the extraction of seeds from the fruit, they should be planted in nursery immediately. Germination of these seeds happens very quickly and as they become seedlings, they are grafted within a year. After extraction, we shouldn’t allow the seeds to dry. During July – August, the seedlings are arched. Limited success is achieved if we do air layering in these plants. In February, the budding is observed. The standardization of propagation method and time of grafting are essential factors in the success rate of planting.
Manure and fertilization methods in Loquat Cultivation:
For the Loquat plants, the manure and fertilizer quantities differ at different stages.
- The plants that are 1 – 3 years of age require Farmyard manure @10 – 20 kg per tree, Urea @ 100 – 200 g per tree, Superphosphate @ 100 – 200 g per tree and finally Muriate of potassium @ 100 – 200 g per tree.
- The plants that are 4 – 6 years of age need Farmyard manure @ 30 – 40 kg per tree, Urea @300 – 400 g per tree, Superphosphate @ 300 – 400 g per tree and finally Muriate of potassium @ 250– 300 g per tree.
- The plants that are 7 – 9 years of age require Farmyard manure @ 40 – 50 kg per tree, Urea @ 500 – 750 g per tree, Superphosphate @ 350–500 g per tree and finally Muriate of potassium @ 350 – 400 g per tree.
- For the plants that are 10 or above 10 years of age need Farmyard manure @ 50 kg per tree, Urea @ 800 g per tree, Super phosphate @ 600 g per tree and Muriate of Potassium @ 500 g per tree.
Irrigation methods in Loquat Cultivation:
The Loquat is a hardy plant and can tolerate drought conditions. Irrigation should be supplied at an interval of 20 – 25 days. Irrigation should be given only during the non – fruiting season. During fruit development, irrigation should be given at an interval of 15 – 20 days. While in the rainy and winter season, irrigation is not required.
Flowering and Fruiting in Loquat Cultivation:
The flowers of the plant bloom in the month of September – January. Panicles produce flowers that set good quality fruits. The Loquat cultivars are self – incompatible. One of the cultivar which is a good pollinizer is Golden Yellow. For high yield, 2 -3 cultivars should be planted at a time.
Intercultural methods in Loquat Cultivation:
- Weeding: The weeding should be done regularly. While planting, newly emerging weeds should be removed timely. Weeds can be removed manually. If not, they can also be controlled by using herbicides.
- Intercropping: Intercropping can be done with crops like gram, mash, pea etc.
- Pruning: Loquat plants should be pruned regularly, so that they will be some air flow in between the plants.
- Mulching: Mulching helps to control the weeds and maintains the moisture level in the soil.
Pest and diseases control measures in Loquat Cultivation:
Pest and diseases that affect the Loquat plants are:
- Fruit flies
- Black scales
- Fire blight
- Crown rot
They can be controlled by spraying appropriate fungicides and pesticides. These can be controlled by natural methods like weeding, mulching and pruning. Some of them can be controlled by seed treatment and also by using disease resistant cultivars. These plants and fruits should also be protected from monkeys by regularly monitoring the fields.
Harvesting techniques in Loquat Cultivation:
Full bearing of the tree starts when it is 3 years old. The fruits that have 9% of total suspended soil (TSS); look well coloured and are fully mature should be harvested. Fruits should be ripened uniformly. The maturity of this fruit differs for each and every variety. They can be harvested manually or by using a simple knife.
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Post harvesting techniques in Loquat Cultivation:
- After harvesting them, they should be cleaned first to remove the fertilizers that have been sprayed on them during production.
- The fruits should be sorted as per the size and shape following which they are graded as per the quality and colour.
- Fruits which are immature and damaged should be rejected.
- In normal temperature they can be stored for 10 days.
- For 60 days, they can be stored in a cold storage under controlled temperatures.
- The fruits are packed in boxes like cardboard or wooden boxes. Good quality and well sized fruits are graded as A and small size fruits should be graded as B.
- While sending them to the local markets or while sending them to long distance markets, they should be packed carefully so that they don’t get damaged or bruised.
Yield of Loquat fruits:
The yield differs for each variety. The average yield of this fruit is 10 – 20 tonnes per hectare of land.