Lime Farming or Citrus Farming Guide for Beginners
The following article details about “Lime Farming” or “How to grow Limes”.
A little bit about Lime/Citrus: Lime or Acid lime (Citrus aurantifolia swing). Is more popular in India than lemon (Citrus limon). Acid lime is cultivated largely in Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Bihar and to a limited extent in other states.
Climate Conditions for lime farming:
The sub-tropical climate is the best suited for citrus growth and development. Temperature below – 40C is harmful to the young plants. Soil temperature around 250C seems to be optimum for root growth. Dry and arid conditions coupled with well-defined summer having low rainfall (ranging from 75cm to 250 cm) are most favorable for the growth of the crop. High humidity favors the spread of many diseases. Frost is highly injurious. Hot wind during summer results in desiccation and drop of flowers and young fruits. Darjeeling Mandarin (Khasi Orange type) grows in altitude up to 2000m as it is adapted to a cooler climate.
Soil Preparation for lime farming:
Citrus can grow well in a wide range of soils. Soil properties like soil reaction, soil fertility, drainage, free lime and salt concentrations, etc. are some important factors that determine the success of the citrus plantation. Citrus fruits flourish well on light soils with good drainage. Deep soils with a pH range of 5.5 to 7.5 are considered good. However, they can grow in a pH range of 4 to 9. Presence of calcium carbonate concentration within the feeding zone may adversely affect the growth. Light loam or heavier but well-drained sub-soils appears to be ideal for citrus.
Lime Varieties in India:
The important varieties of different types of citrus and their respective suitable regions are:
1. Mandarin Orange: Kurg (Kurg& Wyned regions), Nagpur (Vidharba region), Darjeeling (Darjeeling region), Khasi (Meghalaya region), Sumthira (Assam), exotic variety – Kinnow (Nagpur, Akola regions, Punjab & adjoining States).
2. Sweet Orange: Blood Red (Haryana, Punjab & Rajasthan), Mosambi (Maharashtra), Satgudi (Andhra Pradesh), exotic varieties – Jaffa, Hamlin & Pineapple (Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan), Valencia.
Acid Lime: Pramalini, Vikram, Chakradari, PKM1, Selection 49, Seedless lime, and Tahiti
Sweet Lime: Mithachikra , Mithotra
Lemon: Eureka, Lisbon, Villafranca, Lucknow seedless, Assam Lemon, Nepali Round, and Lemon 1
Among Mandarin oranges, Nagpur is the most important variety.
Mosambi arrives early to mid-season and sweeter but less juicy variety Satgudi arrives early in the market.
Pramalini, Vikram and PKM1 are highly cluster bearing acid limes developed by ICAR.
Location/Land Selection for lime farming :
Land needs to be plowed, cross plowed and levelled. In hilly areas, planting is done on terraces against the slopes. In such land, high-density planting is possible as aerial space available is more than that in flat land.
Plant density & Spacing for lime farming:
Normal spacing – 6 m x 6 m ;
Plant population – 275/ha.
2. Sweet Lime :
Normal spacing – 5 m x 5 m ;
Plant population – 400/ha.
Normal spacing – 4.5 m x 4.5 m ;
Plant population – 494/ha.
In very light soils, the spacing may be 4 m x 4 m. In the fertile soil, and in high rainfall areas spacing may be 5 m x 5 m.
Best Time to Plant Limes:
The best season of planting is from June to August. Pits of the size of 60 cm x 60 cm x 60 cm may be dug for planting seedlings. 10 kg of FYM and 500 g of superphosphate may be applied per pit while planting. With a good irrigation system, planting may be done in other months also.
Irrigation requirement for lime plants:
Citrus requires life-saving watering in the first year during winter and summer. Irrigation improves the plant growth, flowering and fruiting in citrus. It also reduces the fruit crops and increases the fruit size. Under unirrigated condition chances of damage to spring, the blossom is high and the next crop maturing in October-November may be heavier. Diseases like root rot and collar rot may occur under over irrigated condition and if the collar region is wetted. Light irrigation with high frequency is beneficial. Irrigation water containing more than 1000 ppm salts is injurious. The quantity of water and frequency of irrigation depends on the soil texture and growth stage. Partial drying out of the soil in spring season may be acceptable.
Manures and fertilizers:
Citrus plants should be manured in three equal doses three times in a year in February, June, and September. Depending on the soil, age, and growth of plants, the dose varies.
The dose should increase every year proportionately to reach full quantity in the eighth year. Fertilizers are spread on the ground up to leaf drip and mixed with the soil by light spading. Irrigation should be applied if there is moisture stress after application of fertilizers.
One or two sprays of micronutrient mixtures may be given.
Intercultural Operations of Lime crop:
Plowing, spading of basins, weed control, etc., are important inter-culture operations for soil aeration and health. Chemical control of weeds with weedicides like grammaxone, simazine, diurone, terbsal, etc. may also be adopted.
Intercrops between plants:
Leguminous vegetables like cowpeas, french bean, peas or any vegetables, etc., may be grown in citrus orchards. Intercropping is advisable only during the initial two to three years.
Trimming and Pruning:
In order to allow the growth of a strong trunk, all the shoots of plants in the first 40-50 cm from ground level developed in the early stage should be removed. The center of the plant should remain open. Branches should be well distributed to all sides. Cross twigs and water suckers are to be removed early. The bearing trees require little or no pruning. All diseased, injured and drooping branches and dead wood are to be removed periodically for initiating citrus greening.
Pests/Insects and Disease Control Management:
Pests: Important pests of citrus are citrus psylla, leaf miner, scale insects, orange shoot borer, fruit fly, fruit sucking moth, mites, etc. Other pests attacking citrus particularly mandarin orange, especially in humid climate are mealybug, nematode, etc.
Control measures of major pests are indicated below:
1. Citrus psylla: Spraying of malathion – 0.05% or monocrotophos – 0.025% or carbaryl – 0.1%
2. Leaf miner : Spraying of phosphomidon @ 1 ml or monocrotophos @ 1.5 ml. per liter 2 or 3 times fortnightly.
3. Scale insects: Spraying of parathion (0.03%) emulsion, dimethoate 150 ml and 250 ml kerosene oil in 100 litre of water or malathion@ 0.1 % or carbaryl @ 0.05% plus oil 1%.
4. Orange shoot borer: Maintaining the orchard clean, spraying of methyl parathion @ 0.05% or endosulfan @ 0.05% or carbaryl @ 0.2% during egg laying season.
Read: Banana Farming.
Diseases of Lime plants
The main diseases of citrus/Lime are Tristeza, citrus canker, gummosis, powdery mildew, anthracnose, etc.
Control measures of these diseases are stated briefly below:
1. Tristeza: Control of aphids and use of cross protected seedlings are recommended.
2. Citrus canker: Cutting of affected twigs followed by spraying of 1% Bordeaux mixture or copper fungicide. An aqueous solution of 500 ppm, streptomycin sulfate is also effective.
3. Gummosis: Scraping off the affected area and application of Bordeaux mixture or copper oxyfluoride.
4. Powdery mildew: Dead twigs are to be pruned first. Wettable sulfur 2 grams/liter, copper oxychloride – 3 grams/liter of water may be sprayed in April and October.
carbendazim @1 gram/liter or copper oxychloride – 3 g/liter fortnightly.
5. Anthracnose: Dried twigs are pruned off first. This to be followed by two sprays of carbendazim @1 grams/liter or copper oxychloride – 3 grams/liter fortnightly.
Lime Harvesting techniques:
Mature fruits are picked up in 2 – 3 cycles. There may be 2 or 3 crops in a year in summer, rainy season and autumn. Orange is picked when the color starts developing.
The Yield of Limes:
1. Orange: Commences from the 4th/5th year with 40/45 fruits per tree. Stabilizes in the 10th year. Average production is about 400-500 fruits per tree after stabilization.
2. Sweet Orange: Commences from the 3rd/4th year with 15 to 20- fruits per tree. Stabilizes around the 8th year. Average production is about 175-250 fruits per tree after stabilization.
3. Lime/Lemon: Commences from the 2nd/3rd year with 50-60 fruits per tree. Stabilizes in the 8th year. Average production is about 700 fruits per tree after stabilization.
The life span of lime plants:
- Orange and sweet Lime – 20 to 30 years.
- Lime – 15 to 25 years.
Read: Spirulina Training in India.
Post-harvest management of Citrus:
Sweet orange and mandarin orange may be treated with ethereal for de-greening and development of color. At a low temperature below 25°C low quantity of ethylene can set a change in color. Pre-cooling of citrus is done by the forced air system. Transit temperature for orange is 100C. The storage conditions for each group are stated below. Oranges may be packed in well ventilated CFB boxes – 30 cm x 30 cm x 30 cm. A mechanical citrus packing line for washing, sorting, size grading, fungicidal treatment for orange and then packing in CFB boxes is also available.
Storage of Citrus:
Mandarin Orange: Orange can be stored at 5-70C with 85-90 % RH for 4-8 weeks.
Sweet Orange: Sweet orange can be stored at 5-70C with 85-90% RH for 3-8 weeks.
Lime/Lemon: Lime and lemon can be stored for 6-8 weeks at 9-100C storage temperature with 80-90% RH. Limes are subjected to pitting after storage at a temperature below 70C. Waxing lime reduces moisture loss. MH treatment may increase the shelf life of Kagzi lime.
Marketing and Export of Citrus:
Citrus keeps well for a long time under ambient conditions and hence can be transported to distant places for marketing. Citrus fruits are sold throughout the country. Several fruit processing units also purchase citrus fruits in bulk. Indian sweet oranges are exported to other countries as well.
Read: Dragon Fruit Farming.