Organic farming of oranges

Organic farming of oranges; steps to follow

Organic farming is an ancient method of farming which improves the yields and also increases the nutrients in the soil. This technique does not use any harmful ingredients that affect humans or other living organisms. They increase the fertility of the soil by eliminating the need for chemical manures and pesticides. Nowadays more and more farmers are joining the club of organic farming leaving behind the conventional methods. They started choosing the right path which balanced the ecosystem.

Orange is a fruit which contains low calorie and high nutritious citrus. They are a combination of sweet and sour. Oranges are very helpful in developing a strong and clear skin and helps to maintain energy level in human body. Orange is consumed raw, as juice or as salads and flavouring desserts.

Orange is a rich content house of vitamin C. They also contain compounds like anti-oxidants which are helpful to control inflammation and other related diseases. The scientific name of orange is Citrus Reticulata. Orange is considered as the most popular fruit in India. Among these 40% of the oranges belong to the category of Mandarin oranges. Other than Mandarin orange, varieties like sweet orange and acid lime are cultivated in India.

The peels of orange are widely used in the production of cosmetic items which has high International market value.

Oranges are grown effectively in frost-free tropical climates and regions about 1500 m from sea level. It needs an annual rainfall of 100-120 cm and an efficient temperature ranging from 10-15 degree Celsius.

Oranges are widely cultivated in different soils like sandy loam soil, alluvial soils, clayey soil or acidic soil. Orange trees require soil with good drainage capacity and the ideal pH range of the soil should be between 5.5 to 7.5. Sometimes the soil tends to accumulate calcium carbonate. These are harmful for the growth of oranges and will adversely affect the yield. So before planting the seedlings, test the soil to ensure purity.

In India, major crop varieties of orange include Coorg santra, Nagpur santra, Khasi santra, Shringar, Mudkhed and so on.

While cultivating in plain lands, they are ploughed thoroughly and initial manures are added before planting. When it comes to sloppy hill areas, terrace farming is practised. Prepare a proper drainage system with a depth of 3-4m. Improper drainage will result in water logging and will badly effect the growth of the trees.

Seedlings of oranges are propagated using healthy disease resistant seeds. They are also developed by using T-budding technique. When the seed germinate and reaches an optimum health condition, they are transplanted to the farmlands. This is mainly done during the month of July-August. The budding process is done during the month of January.

Orange seedlings are mainly planted in pits with a dimension of 50x50x50 and each plant is separated by a distance of 4.5-6m.

During the initial year of plantation, critical stage of watering is required. Providing irrigation at proper intervals reduces the fruit drop and increases the size of the fruit. Over irrigation can result in diseases like root rot and collar rot. To mitigate this, light irrigation with high frequency is considered. The water should be tested before providing it to the crops. If the water contains 1000ppm salt, then it is harmful for the plant. Micro irrigation or drip irrigation is commonly practised by the orange farmers.

Orange tree require a good amount of nitrogen to produce efficient yield. So they are applied to the crops through organic manures including farmyard manures (FYM), cakes etc. Nitrogen is applied to the crops at fixed intervals of April, August and November. Sometimes potassium, zinc, copper, manganese and iron are added with nitrogen for better growth.

Nutrients should be applied in correct quantities or else it may hinder the growth of the crops. Macro-nutrients are applied directly to the crop but micro-nutrients are only provided through foliar spraying.

To increase the strength of the stem or shoot, initially appeared shoot are removed up to 40-50 cm from the ground.

Different variety of pests can cause harm to the orange trees. Some of includes citrus black fly, citrus psylla, leaf miner, mealy bugs, bark eating caterpillar etc. These pests can cause poor performance in the terms of fruit production. Organic insecticides like phosa lone, monocrotophos, quinalphos etc are used to mitigate these insects and pests.

Major diseases like tig blight, gummosis, root and collar rot and damping off can destroy the crops if not removed from the initial stage. After detection, the plants are applied with Bavistin, Ridomil MZ 72 etc based on the type of infection.

To avoid the growth of weeds, tree bases are mulched with dry leaves or paddy husk. They are covered to a thickness of 8cm. Mulching also decreases the chances of over irrigation and helps to maintain the fruit quality.

Orange varieties cultivated in India can be generalized into two types, Ambiabahar and Mrigbahar. Ambiabahar is harvested during the month of January and Mrigbahar is harvested during February-April. Oranges takes 240-280 days to get matured to harvest.

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