|By goGreen | January 31, 2012|
Rambutan has long been grown in Southern Luzon and parts of Mindanao. It has started to be grown in other places where people thought the fruit tree could not be grown, like Northern Luzon and many other places. Some are successful, some are not.
Here are pointers on growing this exotic fruit.
THE PLACE FOR PLANTING
The best place for planting rambutan is where the dry season is shorter than the rainy months. However, even if the dry season is fairly long, one can still plant rambutan. The trees have to be adequately fertilized with organic and chemical fertilizers, and adequate moisture of the soil should be maintained.
Good soil for growing rambutan is clay loam or sandy loam soil. These are rich in organic matter and maintain good moisture content. If the soil is not ideal, i.e., clayey and rocky, still rambutan can be grown. Just dig a big hole and fill it up with top soil mixed with compost or organic fertilizer, rice hull or some other materials that will make the soil well drained.
PLANT THE RIGHT VARIETIES
One important key to success is to plant the right variety or varieties. There are many strains or varieties being grown in the Philippines. There are a few superior ones while many others are inferior. The superior ones produce fruits that are of good size, thick-fleshed, juicy, sweet, and the flesh readily separates from the seeds. There are also those that have longer shelf life, attractive color that does not easily deteriorate.
Among the superior varieties are R5, R162, Rongrein, Super Red, Malaysian Jade, Sakay Selection, Jetlee and some others. R5 is particularly superior in a number of ways. It was the first prize winner in the 1996 Fruit Search competition. It produces big fruits that are intense red, hence attractive to customers. The white flesh is thick, sweet, smooth in texture and separates readily from its seed.
Plant grafted trees. Ungrafted seedlings are not recommended because there are male and female trees. If it happens that a male seedling is planted, it will not bear fruit even if it produces flowers. Moreover, female seedling trees take many years to bear fruit.
On farms with rich soil, the distance of planting should be at least 10 meters apart. That is because trees grow bigger on such soils. If the place is not rich, the distancing could be 8 meters apart. Some plant their rambutan trees as close as six meters apart. That’s too close. After several years, their branches will overlap. Also, closely planted trees tend to grow very tall.
CARE OF JUVENILE PLANTS
Planting is best done at the start of the rainy season. However, planting could be done anytime of the year for as long as the trees are provided with adequate moisture during the dry months. Grafted seedlings that are two to three feet tall are usually used for planting.
Monitor the growth of young trees. If the weather is too hot, provide some shade (like coconut fronds) so the plants will not get scorched. Apply organic fertilizer, about a kilo per tree every two months. Also, apply chemical fertilizer every two months at the rate of 150 grams per tree or thereabouts. You can alternate applying urea and complete fertilizer. Also, spray the plants with foliar fertilizer every month. Hormone, like Ritz Harvest, may be included in the spray. That will enhance the growth of the plants.
Watch for insect damage. Insects might feed on the new leaves. Aphids and other pests could be easily controlled by spraying with common insecticides.
CARE OF FRUITING TREES
It is best to have fruiting trees that are low-growing (about 5 meters tall) with spreading branches. This can be achieved by cutting the lead trunk and developing the lateral branches. This is best done when the trees are properly distanced. In pruning, cut the weak branches.
Fertilize the trees with both organic and chemical fertilizers. The organic fertilizer may be the processed kind or composted chicken manure or some other manures. At the beginning of the rainy season, spread a sackful of manure under the canopy of the trees. Repeat this six months later. The chemical fertilizer may be applied every three months, the amount depending on the size of the trees. Two kilos may be applied per tree each time. Organic foliar fertilizer (balanced, complete formulation) may be sprayed on the leaves every month.
During the dry months, make sure that the trees don’t suffer from drought. Irrigate the trees. During the rainy season, make sure that the plantation is properly drained.
INDUCING TREES TO FLOWER EARLY
One good thing about rambutan is that the trees can be induced to bear fruit earlier than usual. This is done by stressing the trees. For instance, when the rains have stopped to fall in late December, don’t water the trees. Let the soil get dry for about one month. After that dry spell, irrigate the trees copiously and continue to keep the soil sufficiently moist from there on.
Within a few weeks, the flower buds should come out. Right after irrigating the trees at the end of the stress period, spray the trees with a bloom booster fertilizer usually used in orchids. There’s a Peter’s brand for this purpose. Spray this bloom booster every week for three weeks. It will be noticed that the trees will produce a lot of flowers. This has been observed at the Teresa Orchard & Nursery in Teresa, Rizal.
During flowering, don’t apply urea or any other nitrogenous fertilizer as this will abort the flowers. Instead, apply a fertilizer with high phosphorus content like the bloom booster.
During flower and fruit development, make sure that there is adequate moisture in the soil. If moisture is lacking, many of the developing fruits will fall. To prevent fungal growth, spray fungicide during the fruit development stage.
Usually, the fruits will be harvestable in four months from flower break. One month before harvest fertilize the trees with a mixture of complete fertilizer and muriate of potash plus trace elements. This will make the fruits sweeter.
Harvest the fruits as soon as they are fully ripe. Don’t allow them to get overripe because fruitfly and borers will damage them. It is recommended to cut off about four to five inches of the fruiting twigs. From there new shoots will emerge which will bear the next fruits.
What’s good about growing rambutan is that the trees bear fruit every year. Try to grow some. Make sure, though that you plant the best varieties. You’ll be glad you did.
SOURCE: Agri Business Week