Mandarin cultivation in India is done in selected pockets. Here is the complete information on mandarin cultivation including ideal soil requirement, space management, plantation management, pest control, harvesting post harvest management etc.
Mandarin orange (Citrus reticulata) is one of the most demanding citrus fruits grown in India that occupies nearly 42% of the total agricultural lands used for citrus cultivation in the Country. The leading contributing States involved in growing Oranges are Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Orissa, Rajasthan, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, and Mizoram. One advantageous point of mandarin cultivation is that they can be successfully grown on plains as well as over the slopes of hills. Orange production in India takes 3rd position after mango and banana while it has a stake of 1.72% in mandarin export market. Some of those exporting countries are Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Canada, USA, UK, in UAE.
Importance of Mandarin
Mandarin is a healthful fruit which is rich in Vitamin C, B, A, plenty of phosphorus apart from digestive fiber. As they’re consumed fresh they’re equally used in fruit processing industries to produce juice, jam syrup, jam and more. The citric acid and their skin contains are also used by cosmetic industries to produce varieties of skin revitalizing creams and has high demand in the international market.
Popular Varieties Grown In India
Also known as ‘Pokan’, Nagpur is recognized among the premium class of mandarins grown worldwide and occupies the first position in India in terms of its market demand. It offers medium size globose golden colored fruits. Plant growth is quite speedy with solid foliage. Fruit grows in medium size, rind is slim, while juice sacs are rich with plenty of juice and found with 6-7 seeds only. Become mature during January-Feb months.
Widely known as Sikkim, Khshi is commercially cultivated in Assam, Meghalaya and other north-eastern states. Plants grow in medium to large size with thick foliage. Orange colors vary within yellow to vivid orange and the wall is smooth. With 10-20 seeds inside, the quality of juice is abundant and found in deep orange color.
First introduced in Punjab, it’s a high-class hybrid of Willow leaf and King. Due to greater performance in terms of fruit quality and farming feasibility, it has gained steady commercial importance among graded orange varieties. Fruits are found in deep orange color with medium in size, 12-24 seeds and with rich juice sacks. Harvesting time is January-February.
Takes a significant place in commercial variety and is grown widely in South India in the tracks of Coorg and Vynad. Upright, vigorously growing plants produce fruits of semi to bright orange color of medium to larger size. With depressed base, thin rinds and oblate to globose shape it offers 9-11 segments and juice sacks are rich with sap. The variety grows with 15-30 seeds and its maturity time is Feb-Mar.
Aside from the above, other varieties that are commercially grown in India include Darjeeling, Kara (Abohar), Srinagar, Butwal, Sumithra, Mudkhed etc.
Technical Requirements for Mandarin Cultivation
Light to medium loamy well-drained soil is best for growing mandarins. Soil pH level should be within the range of 6.0-8.0 for effective cultivation.
Tropical to subtropical frost-free regions not more than 1500 m from sea level is most desired for successful growth of mandarins.
100-120 cm annually is essential. Temperature should be within the range of 10 to 35 degree C.
Land needs to be well ploughed and leveled properly. In hilly areas, plantation is performed on terraces using the slope as a land. One advantageous point of planting on hills is that, as for growers high density planting is possible with needed aeration space, the topography is great having no chances of water stagnation. Remember, all citrus can be highly affected leading to mortality due to water logging. Proper drainage channels should be prepared alongside the plantation area.
While vegetative propagation through T-budding is mostly preferred by mandarin orange growers, many also choose propagation by seeds. However, T-budding is a more successful and steadier propagating method that helps get higher quality fruits due to its scientific approach. While choosing plants to be propagated make sure that they offer you the finest class of oranges with great characteristics which eventually passes to the new plants with genetic advantage.
Seedlings grown in the nursery or seeds should be shown during Nov-Jan which is ideally the best sowing period.
Mandarins need to be planted in square type pits measuring 50 cm. L X 50 cm. W X 50 cm. keeping a spacing of 5-6 meters. With this, you can accommodate nearly 350-450 plants in per hectare land. Due to appropriate space issues, in hills and north-eastern states, growers of Khasi mandarins allow lesser space (4.5 m. X 4.5 m.) while housing more than 500-550 plants in a hectare land. Even though maintaining a space of 6 m. x 6 m. is considered as the best plantation model for oranges.
Recommended manures/fertilizers list (given in kg/per plant)
1/3rd of the recommended dose of nitrogen, FYM together with Neem cakes of 15-20 kg should be applied in April, August, and November. Phosphorus should be applied in Aug and Nov ( in two splits) and potassium in Nov ( full dose). While maintaining this cycle, for fruit bearing plants, an extra dosage of prosperous@200g in two splits in Aug and Nov and Potassium@100 gram in November need to be applied along with nitrogen dose for better results.
Training and Pruning
Growing plants should be trained to stand upright with a single stem teeming with 6-8 solid and well-spaced branches that help maximize apical dominance of plants as well as enabling them to carry plenty of fruits with ease. Always prune lowermost branches that tend to grow below 50cm height from cropping land. Other than the initial phase of developing, pruning should be throughout the lifecycle of the plants with an aim to eliminate dead, weak, and diseased branches. The best period for pruning fruit bearing plants is subsequent to their harvesting.
Irrigation/ Drip Irrigation
Among all fruits that grow in subtropical region, water requirement of mandarins is quite higher for their needful growth. Depending on the climatic condition and age of the plant, their requirement of water varies widely. For example, the world famous Nagpur mandarin demands 5-15 liters (ageing 1-4 years old), 35-105 liters (5-8 years old) and 60-170 liters of water after 9years, and this requirement is on daily basis. In general, in the dry days irrigation is provided at an interval of 5-7 days while during it winter that comes down to 10-15 days interval.
Importantly, considering the great significance of irrigation for mandarin, growers of low rainfall zones involved in mandarin cultivation are recommended to follow drip irrigation procedure with needed techniques and tools. The whole idea of drip irrigation is instead of providing shallow watering; water is applied via innovative watering tools directly to the root zone of the crop. The drip watering tools are found in heavy duty stainless-copper pipes which need to be placed into the soil near the root zone. The upper part of the pipe has arrangement for fixing the water hose and as per necessity you can put water and all other nutrients through the pipe and nourish your plant more effectively and scientifically. With this, you can save water as well as conserve water, nutrients and put fertilizers more efficiently. With no more shallow watering you can avoid possible infestation of pests, diseases, and insects as well as growth of weeds and enhanced productivity from the plant.
Considering feeding the plants with micronutrients like supplements of copper, iron, boron, zinc, molybdenum etc that supply through foliar spraying, which helps avoid nutrient deficiency disorders among plants.
Inter-cropping for the initial phase with pea, gram, and cowpea can be a great choice to earn extra.
Weed Control/ Mulching
Apart from using hard-hoeing tools, weed can be controlled by spraying them with 1.6 liter of glyphosate in 150 liter water.Mulching the plant base with 8 to 10 cam dry leaf or paddy husk is a good choice to control weed which equally helps with lessened evaporation of water and diminish the needs of watering while improving fruit quality and taste.
To reduce dropping of fruits which is a very serious problem of mandarin orange and leads to considerable loss, consider application sprays which work as growth regulators like GA3(15ppm) or Benomyl @1000 ppm together with urea @1% over fruits sets once a month.
Ripening or De-greening
Commercial growers can consider application of Ethrel @50 PPM 7 days before the exact date of harvesting that helps in de-greening of mandarin. Even after ripening, often fruits remain greenish in color partly or fully and in order to make them marketable, it’s now been extensively practiced in commercial places. Further, after harvesting, fruits can be dipped in Ethrel@ 50 ppm to let them develop with golden yellow colour within 4-5 of treatment.
An extremely damaging juice sucking pest that harms foliage and skin of fruits. To control, spraying the plants including foliage and damaged fruits with Monocrotophos-0.025% or Carbaryl @ 0.1% can work well.
A major cause of curly leaves and fresh leaves dying. Spray Monocrotophos @1.5ml or Phosphamidon @1ml 3 -4 times fortnightly.
Suck juice from citrus plants and fruits. In order to control, introduce neem oil over them and spray Parathion @0.03% or malathion @0.1% for better results.
Aphids and Mealybugs
very small juice sucking pests. Use of synthetic pyrethroids like pest control oil can be used to get rid of aphids and bugs.
Orange Shoot Borer
Damages soft tissues of the plants while damaging their growth. Use Kerosene or alternatively inject petrol pest. Use of Monocrotophos @ 5ml mixing with 2ml water and applying them on shoots can work excellent.
Citrus canker bacteria are pretty harmful for the plant which spoils the stomata present in the leaves and thus kills plants silently. Once spotted, think of spraying plants with Bordeaux mixture@1% or aqueous solution@ 550ppm or Streptomycin Sulphate to control citrus canker.
powdery cotton like white patches is found over plant plants. Leaves gradually turn into pale color and crinkle. To control, first of all, eliminate affected plant parts completely, spray the plant with Carbendazim, 2-3 times for three weeks continually to stop infestation.
Another fungal disease found in citrus. Fruit skins emerge with black spots that lead to rotting. Use of copper spray for repeated 6-8 weeks can be an effective control measure.
Usually, from 4th onwards, you can expect your mandarins to provide your yields which will increase gradually and by 10-12th year it should be at the pick point. In the age of 9-10 years, mandarins can produce nearly 500-800 fruits while at the age of 10-12, they would have the fullest fruit bearing ability. Fruits need to be harvested as they attain full size, appear with rich colour taste in a blend of sugar and acid. Use tools like clippers, secateurs, or shears for harvesting fruits.
Post Harvest Management
Fruits need to be graded according to size and color. Fruits that are puffy, blemished (not decayed), oblong, deformed or immature should be kept separately during grading your quality fruits.
In order to store fully ripe fruits, use cold storage with a setting of 8-100 C temperature and 90-95% relative humidity. Before storing, rinse fruits with Bavistin 1000 PPM after harvesting which will also help to get your green lots in Golden yellow color during storage.