Climate information for Orange Farming.
The crop requires much less than the average temperature of India for its growth. The range stays between 10°C to 35°C. Orange tree requires a dry climate with an evenly distributed and well drained annual rainfall of about 1000 mm to 1200 mm. However, Orange trees are immensely sensitive to water stagnation and thus excessive rainfall with absence of proper drainage leading to waterlogging is very harmful for the plants. Plantation in hilly areas solves this problem because the slope provides the proper scope of drainage.
Soil requirement for Orange Farming.
Orange trees can be cultivated in a wide range of soils starting from sandy loam or alluvial soils of north India to clay loam or deep clay loam or lateritic/acidic soils in the Deccan plateau and north-eastern hills. But, the best suitable soil conditions are well-drained light loamy soils with a high percentage of organic matter content. Soils with poor drainage and high basicity/alkalinity should be avoided. The optimum range of pH is from 5.5 to 7.5. pH value of 9 and more would result in very poor yields. Also, the salinity of soil should be avoided at all costs. High calcium carbonate concentration in the feeder root zone may adversely affect the growth of the plant.
Recommended sowing dates for Orange Farming.
Since it is not a hardcore food crop and essentially grows into a full-fledged tree, thus it can be sown practically in any time of the year. Oranges are propagated both by means of seeds (sexual method) and also vegetative by budding. For large scale commercial cultivation, seedlings are transplanted in the months of July-August just after the commencement of monsoon. Budding is done preferably in the last week of January or first week of February following the appropriate budding methods.
Land preparation for Orange Farming.
An important task required for Orange farming is proper land preparation. At least 2 to 3 thorough ploughings are necessary for the fine tilth of the soil. This would level and clear the previously grown crops vegetation. In hilly areas, planting is done on terraces against the slopes. The remaining soil clods after these ploughings should be crushed manually by country ploughs or other instruments since it favors germination. After opening up the topsoil, the land is left as it is for 15 days in the sun for sun-drying the weed seeds and the residues from the previous crop which might bear some pests or weed seeds. This will ensure the elimination of the weeds and potential weed seeds. After that, about 30 tonnes of well-rotted farmyard manure (FYM) should be applied and spread evenly on the soil. Then, it should be properly mixed with the soil by means of further ploughing. Pits of 50 cm X 50 cm X 50 cm dimension are then dug for planting the seedlings.
Since orange plants are highly sensitive to water stagnation, provision of drainage channels with large depths all around the orchard is absolutely essential.
Propagation in Orange farming.
The propagation of Orange plants takes place both by means of asexual/vegetative methods or sexual methods (through seeds). The seeds are obtained from the ripe fruits and are sown in raised soil beds of the nursery. When the seedlings reach a height of 10-15 cm, they are transplanted into the main field. But this method is not preferred since propagation by sexual means results in variation in the young plants and they differ from their mother plants in taste, vigor, color and other phenotypic characters. Also, propagation through seeds takes a long time (about 7 to 10 years) to establish an orange tree. As a result, propagation by vegetative means is widely practiced.
The propagation methods include cutting, grafting and budding.
1. Cutting involves a shoot taken from the superior mother plant and then planted in the field where the shoot will eventually sprout a root system and regenerate itself into a full-fledged tree with trunk and bark.
2. Grafting involves the production of a new Orange tree from the rootstock of a strong plant with the scion added from a plant with superior taste and vigor but weak structure. Budding is a special type of grafting where the two plants form a union through growing buds. Farmers need to be attentive about the time of initiation of growth of bud.
Irrigation methods and requirement of Orange farming .
Proper irrigation is one of the most important aspects of orange farming. Application of appropriate irrigation is very critical in the initial year which greatly reduces fruit drop and increases the fruit size. Excessive irrigation and water stagnation result in diseases like root rot and collar rot. A very light amount of irrigation with high frequency is preferable. The quantity and frequency of irrigation however depend on the soil texture and growth stage of the plants. Micro-irrigation not only paves the way for a sustainable future by saving water and nutrients but also ensures good fruit retention of the plants during the stages of growth. However, the water requirement of orange trees is higher than other common trees. The requirement of water varies from 900 mm to 1100 mm per year depending upon the location of planting.
Fertilizer Requirements for Orange farming.
Around 30 tonnes of well-rotted farmyard manure (FYM) per hectare land is added during land preparation. Under appropriate soil moisture conditions, the dosages of fertilizers and manures should be –
Nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizer are highly essential to the crops for fruiting. Besides those, micronutrients like Zinc, Copper, Manganese, Iron, Boron, etc. are also necessary.
In cases of bearing trees, nitrogen should be applied in three equal split doses. The first one-third of the dosage is provided in the months of April, the next in August and the final in November. Phosphorus should be applied in two split doses in August and November and 100 g Potassium should be applied in November.
Varieties of Oranges –
There are more than 1000 commercial varieties of Oranges available in the whole world. The important ones among them include –
Nagpur Santra, Coorg Santra, Khasi Santra, Mudkhed, Shrinagar, Butwal, Darjeeling and so on.
No traditional seed treatment is required since Orange seeds are generally not used for commercial propagation.
Other practices for successful cultivation -
Weed control or intercultural operations – For Orange plants, 4 weedings at an interval of one month are necessary for controlling unwanted weeds since they affect the overall yield of the plants. After every harvest, weeding should be carried out to prepare the field for the upcoming batch. Chemical weedicides like fluchloralin at the rate of 2 kg per hectare, diuron at the rate of 3 kg per hectare, simazine at the rate of 4 kg per hectare or paraquat at the rate of 7.5 kg per hectare can also be used in proper limits for better results. Mulching by means of 100-micron recyclable black polythene sheets is also a good alternative for controlling weeds. For organic mulching, 12 to 15 cm thick mulch should be used which will also facilitate penetration of water to the roots of the plants.
Effective pruning should be practiced for proper fruit growth and removal of diseased branches, thus allowing the fruits to utilize the highest amount of available nutrients.
Harvesting – The Orange fruits should be harvested after 240 to 280 days from planting when the fruits in the trees show the signs of ripening and start to change the color. Oranges are harvested by repeated pickings since the fruits of the whole tree do not ripen at the same time. Color and taste are two of the most important indicators showing the sign of ripening. Mature fruits at color break stage are picked up in 2-3 intervals of 10-15 days. After harvest, the Oranges are stored in a very cool and dry place preferably in freezers or cold storages and then are released for fresh consumption in the local and export markets and for further processing in other food processing industries.