Citrus farming, involves the cultivation of fruits like; orange, tangerine, grapefruit, lime, lemon etc. Orange is the most cultivated citrus in my area because it is the most preferred fruit by consumers. It is only of recent that the number of people consuming grapefruits increased because of the increased awareness of their health benefits. Tangerine is the next preferred after grapefruit. If I have my way, I will rather cultivate citrus that are less produce but well source for buy consumers, example lime, lemon etc.
For many, Citrus is well known to be the main source of vitamin C. Apart from Vitamin C, they also contain a good amount of other essential nutrients, these include glycemic and non-glycaemic carbohydrate such as sugars and fibre, potassium, folate, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, thiamine, vitamin B6, copper, pantothenic acid, niacin, riboflavin, and a wide range of phytochemicals. Citrus is highly recommended for consumption because their fruits have no cholesterol, fat or oil, they also have low energy.
A medium sized orange contains 60 to 80 kcal of Energy. Grapefruit contains 90 kcal while a tablespoon of 15 mL lemon juice contain 4 kcal only.
Fruit Farming Business is very lucrative whethet it be; tangerine farming, orange farming, lime farming, lemon farming, grapefruit farming etc.
COMMON CITRUS VARIETIES/SPECIES
Citrus has a lot of variety, some of those varieties are not edible. You can lick some directly while others need to be squeezed and the juice mixed with water or other drinks.
- Sweet Orange- Hamlin, Valencia, Ruby, Agege Parson,brown,washington, etc.
- Grapefruit Durean, Marsh, Ruby Red, Red blush, Marsh seedless, Star Ruby
- Tangerine Dancy, Algerian, Clementine, etc.
- Tangelo Lake, Minneola, Orlando, Minneola
- Lemon Lisbon, Eureka, Sun Gold
- Lime- Key, West Indian, Bearss, Rangpur
STEPS TO CITRUS FARMING
SITE SELECTION /LAND PREPARATION
Clear the land you want to use for farming citrus and its surroundings, they are not shade overs so remove all the trees and shrubs. Plough about 2-3 times to ensure the soil is well level and tilt. Citrus farming can be done in a wide range of soil but Use a well drained Sandy loam soil, because it is best for Citrus cultivation. Chose a site that is not prune to drainage of water. Soils that has underlying hardpan of about 1m or less to the top mock soils, or slain sites should be avoided because they are not ideal for citrus cultivation.
The best method of propagating Citrus is by budding, so use budded seedlings from orchards. Planting from seed will take a very long time to mature/fruit and will not produce fruits that are true to their type. Another deficiency is the fact that non budded citrus are susceptible/prune to disease attack. Whereas budded citrus starts fruiting from 2 years with less disease attacks.
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To plant citrus trees from seeds, remove the seeds from the fruit you want to use.
Soak them overnight in water and plant the seed ½ inch deep in moist potting soil. Cover the pot with a plastic bag and leave them in a warm, sunny environment for few weeks until they start to grow. Remove the plastic bag at this time from the pot and allow it remain in a warm sunny place.
TRANSPLANTING OF CITRUS SEEDLINGS
Plant the orchard or seedlings when the rainy season has fully set in. In the southern part of Nigeria ; this is around May, but about June in the north.
Make sure you have already Prepared planting holes down before purchasing the citrus budded seedlings. Dig holes 25 cm x 18 cm and 7m x 7m apart in chosen direction. Fill the hole half way with top soil mixed with organic matter and set the seedlings into hole. Cover the hole with the remaining dug soil that was dug out and firm the soil around the seedlings.
Set the trees in these holes (which have been half–filled with rich topsoil) and shovel in back the soil firmly around the trees. Plant the seedlings according to their size in the budded bags from the nursery. When inserting the citrus plant into the soil be very careful not to tamper with the roots’ the nursery bag should be removed.
INTERCROPPING IN CITRUS FARMING
Citrus crops are planted with a Spacing of 7m x 7m, which leaves a wide space of land unused. It will be ideal to inter-crop plants that are compatible with citrus example pineapple, beans, potato, soyabeans, Okra melon, ,Groundnut, watermelon etc.
It will help in generating money while waiting for the citrus crop to fruit and start producing. money. Intercropping generally, is a means of utilizing and maximizing land for the benefit of farmers before the main crop starts producing and also bring in money.
However, the right Fertilizer dosage for the dressing of each of these crops should be used. Good and efficient pest/disease control management should be adopted.
MANAGEMENT OF TRANSPLANTED SEEDLINGS
Irrigate citrus plant immediately after transplanting. Continue to irrigate especially during dry season November-Febuary. In fact at this period of the year irrigation should be carried frequently because it is a long dry season. You may not have to water during the rainy season except were drought sets in or otherwise. Lack of moisture will make citrus to wilt resulting in resulting in yield reduction.
An alternative is to water manually at least 10 liters of water (stream water, well water, tap water, etc.) delivered at the base of the trees twice a week is sufficient for good development and yield. Drip irrigation system can also be installed during this period to provide sufficient water for each tree during this period.
MANURE /FERTILIZATION APPLICATION
In citrus farming Fertilizers can only be applied when signs of deficiency is noticed in the young tree. Organic fertilizer should not be applied at planting nor within the first year of planting.
These recommended application measure should be implemented a year after transplanting. Apply manure in a shallow furrow around the young trees it should be correspondence to the drip-margin of the canopy.
For 2-4 years of age, 500g of compound fertilizer N.P.K (15:15:15) each tree should be applied twice in the year.
And for 5–10 years old tree 2 kg (15:15:15) and 600 g of potassium per tree, should be applied twice in the year.
For 10 years plus. 3kg (NPK 15:15:15) and 800g of pottasium per tree, should be applied twice in the year. For optimum yield and maximum benefits, Maureen application should be done in June-September.
Weeding is very important but could be costly and expensive depending on the size of your farm. If your orchard runs into hectare ensure you use chemical an herbicide to control the growth of weeds. It should be applied in a ring form around each citrus plant. Weeding should be done three times in a year, you are to share the times to your plan of convenience.
Insects control in citrus farming depends on the stage of the plant development. The best that attack Nursery are mostly leaf-eating insects such as caterpillars and plant bud. Caterpillar can be Controlled by using appropriate insecticide at the rate of 0.9–1.00 Liters E.C. formulation in 300ltr of water for a hectare. Other pests are; fruit fly, fruit piercing moth, spider mite, aphids and bud.
There are two major group disease of citrus. One affect leaves, stem and roots. While the other group are fruit diseases coming from the farm and continuing at storage.
Example of the diseases are; twig or branch dieback, brown rot and foot rot, gummosis and blast. These are all fungal disease and can be Controlled by applying Z force 20g/ 10 liter of water on the trees with any wetting agent. Others are; Scab, root rot, Tristeza a Virus caused by Aphids, Gummosis etc.
For diseases like fruit anthracnose and Phytophthora rot apply either Thiabendazone at 10ml/ 10 liter of water.
Citrus plants should be prune occasionally unlike other fruit tress that are done frequently. This is because citrus does not need heavy pruning just a slight pruning is okay. Any sucker or shoots that is growing from the rootstock should be removed. Since Citrus trees are grown budded, whereby a tree with desirable fruit is cut and attached to a strong rootstock.
If you don’t prune the rootstock will take over.meaning. Remove also clustered shoots or abnormal shoots that wants to disfigure the shape of the tree. Such as quick growing branches, straight and long shoot.
Thin the foliage moderately if the growth is excessively dense, in other to encourage air circulation and light availability. You can trim citrus to keep it as shrub or hedges, it will make it easier for harvest. But it should not be overly done.
Harvest is done by pulling or plucking the fruit stalk from the tree manually or by the use of pruning shears. Citrus should be harvested when ripe but should not be allowed to be too ripe before harvesting. The fruit will not continue to ripe after harvest but the skin color can change so don’t harvest them too early. The best way to know if it’s ripen is by taste. Tangerine, grapefruit,’ lemon should be harvested when the green color start becoming yellow. Harvest fruit when it is fully ripe. Lime will never change its greenish color so harvest them by size. Citrus takes between 6-8 months to ripen depending on the climatic situation of that season. Citrus that are not damaged can be stored in a cool temperature for many weeks.
Traders of different citrus type are always at a standby for purchase. So take the fruits to market traders. Supply to fruit juice companies and road side vendors. Adding value to your Citrus farming business will pay you the most. You can set up a fruits juice company and be supplying the finish products in wholesale. Or you establish a fresh fruit joint.
MEDICINAL BENEFITS OF TANGERINE
- Tangerines are naturally a great source of Vitamins C for the human body. It provide antioxidants required by the body.
- They are used for medical treatments as they fight against skin diseases and arthritis.
- Tangerine helps in healing minor cuts and wounds
- They also help to absorb iron from food very easily.
- Tangerine contain fibers like pectin and hemi-cellulose that stop the absorption of cholesterol in the gut preventing the risk of obesity.
- Helps in digestion. Some chronic diseases such as cancer and heart diseases can be prevented with proper consumption of tangerines and other orange varieties.
MEDICINAL BENEFIT OF TANGERINE
- They boost immunity through the presence of several vitamin and minerals and lessens the duration of cold.
- Grapefruits are good source of vitamin A, an essential vitamin that helps in promoting healthy vision.
- Liver Cleanser . Grapefruit contains a good number of liver detoxifying and cleansing agents, such as antioxidants and phyto-nutrients called limonoids that help to excrete toxic waste from the liver by making them more water soluble.
- Eating two grapefruits a day will help to reduce gum
- Vitamin C has been found to lessen respiratory issues and prevent asthma. It aids in treating asthma, chronic cough, shortness of breath and even runny nose.
MEDICINAL BENEFITS OF LEMON
- The bitter taste of lemon increase peristalsis in the body which helps to eliminate waste from the bowels and improve regularity. Add the juice of one lemon to warm water and drink first thing in the morning.
- Lemons contain 22 anti-cancer compounds. Lemons also contain a substance called flavonol glycosides which stop cell division in cancer cells.
- They are rich in vitamin C and flavonoids that fight against infection.
- Lemon are liver detoxifiers. Add fresh lemon juice to a large glass of water in the morning and drink.
- They contain vitamin C, citric acid, flavonoids, B-complex vitamins,calciu m, copper, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and fiber which help in nutrition.
- The citric acid found in lemon juice helps to dissolvegallstones, calcium deposits, and kidney stones.
- Vitamin C found in lemons helps to neutralize free radicals linked to aging and many types of disease.