Introduction to Organic Lemon Farming
The botanical name of Lemon is Citrus limon. Citrus is an important fruit crop and Lemon is one of the important categories of citrus. It is known for its pulp and juice throughout the world. The Lemon tree is a small evergreen tree in the family Rutaceae. Lemon fruits have many health benefits and are a great source of vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, and potassium that improve the condition of our hair, skin, and nails.
A Step by Step Guide to Organic Lemon Farming
Lemon trees can reach 3 to 6 meters in height and can live for many years. By using the right organic soil and fertilizer with natural pest and disease control methods keep the Lemon trees healthy as well as chemical-free. The Lemon fruit has a variety of uses and is cultivated throughout the country. However, the Commercial production of Lemons takes place in Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Gujrat, Rajasthan, and Bihar. Also, other states cultivate it for their domestic use. The Lemons are available in the markets throughout the year and grow in almost any soil. The largest producer of Lemons in the world is India. However, the size of the Lemon fruits is not as big as those of other countries. Nevertheless, it exports fresh Lemons to some countries like Japan, Thailand, and Bangladesh, etc.
Lemon Varieties in India
The Lemon varieties in India are Assam Nimbu/ Nemu Tenga, Lisbon, Sweet Lemon/Lime, Genoa, Rough Lemon, Nepali Oblong/ Pat Nebu, Villafranca, and Nepali Round.
Suitable Climate and Location for Organic Lemon Farming
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Lemon trees can be grown under a wide range of climatic conditions. However, too hot or too cold weather is counterproductive to Lemon fruit size and flowering. Lemon trees can be grown in heavy rainfall humid regions. High humidity favors the spread of many diseases in Lemon trees. The Lemon tree has the reputation of tolerating infertile, very poor soil. For Lemon cultivation, recommended soils are sand, clay, and sandy–clay–deep, with high permeability and good drainage. Also, black soils are suitable if not lying over calcareous sub-soil. Before actually planting your Lemon, make sure the site you select is appropriate for your tree. The Lemon tree needs 8-12 hours of light per day to produce a good crop of fruit. If the Lemon tree is not receiving sufficient light, the crop will be thin or none at all. Before planting or potting up, try placing the Lemon tree in the desired location for a couple of weeks to see how it responds. If the Lemon tree looks unhappy, try another location.
Organic Soil Preparation for Lemon Farming
Lemon trees can be grown in all types of soils. Light soils having good drainage are suitable for Lemon tree farming. Also, they can grow in slightly alkaline and acidic soils. Light loam well-drained soils are best for its cultivation.
Lemon tree planted in medium black, loamy, or alluvial soils having perfect drainage. Lemon trees can grow in all sorts of soils, but well-drained sandy loam and clay-loam soils rich in humus with fairly good Potash content are best for its cultivation. The soil must be well aerated. Heavy soil should be avoided. Soils with high organic matter are preferred; FYM (Farm Yard Manure) or compost must be incorporated during land preparation. Homegrown Lemons do well to make a potting mixture of equal parts of compost, perlite, and peat moss or coir. Another potting mixture contains 5 parts of wood chips, one part of peat moss, and one part of perlite/vermiculite.
The pH level for Lemon trees between 5.5 and 6.5 is good; however, they can tolerate with reduced productivity pH level range of 4–9. Water your Lemon tree every 7 to 10 days during the summer, providing it with 4 to 6 inches of water each month. Allow the soil around mature trees to partially dry between watering. Overwatered Lemon trees suffer from root rots, while those not watered enough frequently shed blossoms and don’t produce as much fruit.
Lemon Plant Spacing
Spacing between Lemon plants should be kept between 4.5×4.5. Pits of size about 60×60×60cm should be dug for planting seedlings.
Time of sowing and Sowing Depth in Lemon Farming
The best season for Lemon planting is July-August. Pits of size 60×60×60cm should be dug for planting seedlings.
Propagating Lemon Seeds
Step 1) The first step in propagating Lemon seeds is to choose a good tasting, juicy Lemon.
Step 2) You want to use fresh seeds and plant them immediately; letting them dry out will decrease the chance that they will germinate.
Step 3) Plant several seeds about ½ inch deep to increase the chance for Lemon seed propagation. Keep the soil moist, but not soggy. Keep your growing Lemon tree seeds in an area that is around 21°C; the top of the fridge is ideal.
Step 4) Once the seedlings emerge, move the container into brighter light and then remove the plastic. When the Lemon seedlings have several sets of leaves, transplant them to larger, 4- to 6-inch pots filled with sterile potting medium. Fertilize them with a water-soluble fertilizer and keep the soil moist.
Step 5) The propagated Lemon seedlings should have at least four hours of direct sun with temps between 15-21°C. As the tree gets larger, prune it in the early spring season and repot as needed to encourage new growth and fruiting.
Process of Planting Lemons Organically
Step 1) Plant Lemon trees in the spring season, using the optimum site and soil conditions to reduce the chances for disease and pest problems. Fungal disease can be avoided by growing the trees in a sunny area with well-drained soil, and by setting the tree so that the top of the root ball is above the soil line. Avoid planting on the lawn, because the amount of nitrogen required by grass can encourage disease in trees.
Step 2) Apply about 3- to 4-inch layer of mulch to conserve water and suppress weeds. Keep the mulch about 6 inches away from the Lemon tree’s trunk to prevent rodent burrowing.
Step 3) Shape a basin around the Lemon tree by creating a circular rim of soil and mulch, extending 1 foot beyond the ground underneath the tree’s outer branches, known as the drip line. Then, this step prevents water from running downhill rather than being absorbed by the soil.
Step 4) Water the Lemon tree immediately after planting, and during the first year at least once a week during periods of low rainfall. Lack of water causes stress to a Lemon tree, which in turn leads to undeveloped fruit and the prevalence of pests like mites and thrips.
Step 5) Rake aside the mulch and spread compost or blood meal on the surface of the soil, starting from 6 inches from the trunk to 1 foot beyond the drip line. Water the area carefully to allow nutrients to sink into the soil. Repeat watering the tree, for a total of four feedings a year.
Step 6) Wrapping the Lemon tree protects it from sunburn in its first year. Extend the water area as the Lemon tree grows.
Step 7) Control mild infestations of thrips and aphids by spraying the tree with strong jets of water from your hose. Spraying plant leaves with water also removes the dust that attracts mites. Release purchased beneficial insects to control problem infestations. Lady beetles attack scale and mealy-bugs, while lacewings control populations of thrips and whiteflies.
Step 8) Apply organic sprays to control more serious pest infestations in Lemon trees. Soap-based sprays, neem oil, or homemade oil sprays are all organic controls for Lemon pests. Check labels carefully to determine the insects they treat and the best time to use them.
Irrigation Requirement in Organic Lemon Farming
Irrigation is important for tree growth and it is considered one of the most critical cultural operations. About the method of irrigation suggested that young trees up to 8 years may be profitably irrigated by basin system. Other irrigation methods applied in Lemon trees are flood, furrow, sprinkler methods. The application of irrigation at the right time and the right quantity is more important than the irrigation method. Generally, under local conditions, weekly irrigation from March to June and fortnightly irrigation from November to February are practiced.
In dry areas, water newly planted Lemon trees at least once a week for the first year. Once established, Lemon trees need less frequent watering, but never wait until leaves wilt to water. Water stress can cause developing fruit to drop; prolonged drought causes leaf drop and kills the Lemon tree. In drought areas, construct a shallow watering basin that extends from 6 inches away from the trunk to 1 foot beyond the drip line. Keep mulch 6 inches away from the trunk.
Caring for Lemon Trees
- Lemon trees don’t like wet feet, and they don’t need much watering.
- Lemon trees require full sunlight for adequate plant growth. Lemon trees prefer well-drained and slightly acidic soil.
- Water any newly planted Lemon trees every other day for the first week, and then 1 or 2 times a week for 2 months.
- Lemon trees planted in sandy soils will require water more frequently. Young trees will require a light application of fertilizer every month in the first year.
- Lemon trees will need to be protected from cold temperature levels to prevent damage. Soil can be mounded up around the trunk during the winter and removed in the spring season.
- Young Lemon trees can also be protected from frosts by covering them with tarps or blankets as required.
Organic Fertilization for Lemon Farming
Fertilization in organic Lemon growing is based primarily on the compost. Only if necessary based on soil and leaf analysis –additional organic commercial fertilizers are brought in. Suitable strategies have to be planned based on the soil condition. For example, applications have to be applied 2-4 weeks before the expected nitrogen demand of the Lemon trees (2-4 weeks before flowering) because the mineralization of nitrogen from compost is slow. If nitrogen demand is important for trees (> 50 kg/ha) nitrogen supply cannot be given with compost only. Nitrogen is available to gardeners through organic sources. Animal waste such as chicken manure contains high amounts of nitrogen that is used by Lemon trees after it is well composted.
Organic Pest and Disease Management in Lemon Farming
Insects – Aphids, mealybugs, thrips, whiteflies, cutworms, and scale insects are some of the insects that damage Lemon plants. These insects cause varying degrees of damage but normally will leave the leaves wilted, curled, discolored, and distorted. The damaged plant leaves may fall from the citrus tree prematurely. Leaf rollers eat plant leaves and mature fruit and roll plant leaves up, securing them with a silky thread. By using oil spray effectively to control the insects, the pest should be entirely covered with the oil.
Diseases – Neem oil control insects such as aphids and whiteflies that carry viruses that infect plants. Also, they protect the citrus plant from various fungal diseases, such as powdery mildew, rusts, black spot, and scab. Neem oil works by preventing the fungal spores from adhering to the Lemon plant and prevents it from attaching itself to the citrus plant. These oil sprays have low toxicity to humans, birds, and bees but cause skin irritation.
Many pest problems in Lemon trees can be controlled effectively with biological control methods. Normally, bio-control methods and agents help to decrease the level of pests rather than to eradicate them. Pest and disease management in organic Lemon farming relies on priority on indirect control methods. Favorable conditions are;
- Resistant varieties;
- Mosaic of production units;
- Diversity of crops and diverse habitat;
- Local availability of bio-control agents etc.
How to Prune Lemon Trees
- Most Lemon trees need little pruning beyond removing dead or broken branches.
- Limit the Lemon tree’s size by thinning out fast-growing shoots that outgrow other branches. Thin branches rather than shortening them.
- You can revitalize an old unproductive Lemon tree by pruning severely in early spring. Wear thick gloves if the tree has thorns.
- Cut off all branches 2 inches or larger in diameter, then feed and water heavily for the next year.
- Very severe tree pruning may stop fruiting for up to 2 years.
When and How to Harvest a Lemon
When it comes to Lemon harvesting, the fruit size is more important than the color. If you pick Lemons before they reach an adequate size, even if they are yellow or greenish-yellow color, they won’t be as juicy and they’re likely to be extremely sour.
Lemons are ready to pick as soon as they are the yellow or yellow-green color in appearance. The Lemon fruit will be 2 to 3 inches in size. It’s better to wait until the Lemon fruits are the right size and not worry so much about color than to wait for them to be a completely yellow color.
Commonly Asked Questions about Organic Lemon Farming
In case if you are interested in this: Organic Saffron Farming.
How much time does it take to grow a Lemon tree?
Once Lemons start to grow, give them time to mature. They can take around 6 months to mature. Don’t harvest them until their skin changes from green to dark yellow color.
Why Lemon tree leaves turning yellow and falling off?
The yellow leaves or chlorosis on a Lemon tree is caused by overwatering or a nutrient deficiency. Lemon trees require regular water, particularly in the warm months. But an overwatering tree can leach nutrients from the soil and cause root rot. Often the leaves on an over watered tree will turn yellow color and drop.
How many Lemon trees can be planted in an acre?
A minimum of 208-250 plant density must be maintained in 1 acre.
How many Lemons grow on a Lemon tree in a year?
Lemons trees can produce up to about 600 lbs of Lemons every year.
What is the best time to plant Lemon trees?
The best time to plant a Lemon tree is during the spring season.
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