Top 15 Steps to Boost Sapota/Sapodilla/Chiku Yield: How to Increase Fruit Size, Quality, and Production

Sapota is also called Chiku, Sapodilla, or Chikoo. Let’s check out the top 15 Steps to boost Sapota/Sapodilla/Chiku yield below.

Steps to Boost Sapota/Sapodilla/Chiku Yield
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Top 15 steps to boost Sapota/Sapodilla/Chiku yield

Step 1: Select high yield Sapota varieties for more yield 

Varieties of good horticultural characteristics should have high yields, moderately large fruits, and smooth, sweet, and fragrant pulp with little or no hardness. Some of the high yield Sapota varieties can be given below;

  • Co.3 Sapota – Co.3 Sapota is a high-yielding hybrid that will do well even in dry and marginal soils. It prefers hot and humid weather and grows in dry and humid places. A coastal climate is ideal for 1200 to 2500 mm of annual rainfall. The maximum temperature is between 11 and 34°C. This hybrid can be grown in low rainfall areas and modest soils. It can also withstand moisture pressure and can be grown underwater. 
  • Pala – It is a high-yielding variety. Fruits are oval-shaped with thin skin. 
  • Chhatri – It is low quality, high yielding variety. 
  • Kalipatti – It is a high-yielding and good-quality variety, egg-shaped fruit, and has low seeds, i.e., 1-4 seeds per fruit. It gives an average yield of 166 kg per tree. 
  • PKM1 – Fruits come in two shapes such as round (rare) and oval (maximum). High average yield with medium size fruits. The average weight of a fruit is 100 grams. It is a clonal selection of cultivar Gutthi. Plants with round and oval fruits are dwarf, thin-skinned, soft pulp, and sweet. It is high-yielding with medium size fruit but of poor quality.

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  • PKM2 – PKM.2 is a hybrid between Guthi and Kirtibarthi varieties. This hybrid is a high-yielding plant that records an average yield of 80 kg of fruit/tree in the fifth year after planting. The increase in production compared to PKM.1 variety is 42.76%. Fruits are larger (95g) than PKM.1 (84.0g). They are elongated oval in shape. 
  • CO 3 –It is a medium-sized tree with high yields that can bear fruit all year round.
  • PKM-5 – High-yielding, highly soluble solids (25.50 bricks) and suitable for making dry flakes, milkshake powder, and mixed fruit jam. Attractive oval-shaped fruit with smooth, light brown skin facilitates good appeal in the market. The flesh is crisp and retains the brown color of copper, while other types of Sapota turn dark brown when cooked. 
  • DHS-1 –It is a strong growing plant with a round to long fruit, high yield, sweet, soft granular pulp. 

Step 2: Soil requirements for maximum growth

For Sapota cultivation, the soil should be well-drained, deep, and porous type. Generally, any soil can be used for Sapota cultivation, but no hard pans on the subsoil surface should be found. Trees can tolerate the amount of salt in the soil. Soil types suitable for the cultivation of Sapota are deep loam, sandy loam, and medium loam. The soil pH should be about 6 to 8. The shallow soil type is not suitable for the cultivation of Sapota. Alluvial, sandy loam, red laterite, and medium loamy soil with good drainage are ideal for Sapota cultivation. 

Step 3: Best location for fruit production 

For best tree growth and fruit production, choose a place with plenty of sunlight. The area should be free of other trees as Sapodillas can grow large if not pruned to maintain their size. 

Step 4: High-Density Planting (HDP) of Sapota 

Planting at a higher density which gives maximum crop yield at maturity if the individual tree grows to its full natural size, is known as HDP. In other words, it is about planting as many plants as possible by manipulating the size of the trees. High-Density Planting (HDP) with a spacing of 5 meters has been successfully adopted until 13 years.

The normal plant spacing is 8.5 meters to 10 meters, but there is a new planting method called High-Density Planting (HDP); spacing reduces the distance between plants to 5 x 5 meters so that more plants can be planted. Therefore, this method of planting increases the productivity of the farm. High-density planting is usually successfully adopted up to 13 years after planting.

In case you missed it: Sapota Pests, Diseases (Chiku/Sapodilla), Control Methods

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Step 5: Planting material and spacing for getting more fruits

Sapota is commercially propagated by vegetative methods like air or gootee layering, grafting, and budding. Sapota trees should be planted at a distance of 25 feet or more from the nearest tree or structure in the home landscape. However, the most commercially available method is softwood grafting on seedlings. This method replaces the previous method called approach grafting. When the Sapota is grafted onto the rayon, its growth is slow at first, but the tree lasts longer. Layered plants grow well, and the method is cheap as no rootstock is required. 

Step 6: Best season for Sapota planting

Sapota farming can be done in any season, but proper irrigation facilities are available. Grafts are usually applied at the beginning of the rainy season. In areas with high rainfall, the crop can be planted by September. 

Step 7: Fertilize Sapota trees for more yield

When new growth appears every year for the first three years, fertilize the young trees. Apply more nitrogen fertilizers, such as 6-6-6-2, 1/2-pound per tree in the first year and no more than 0.8 pounds in the second year, eventually graduating to 3 to 5 pounds in the third year. Sapota plants need manure and fertilizer for healthy growth and development. Fully grown Sapota trees require 100 kg of FYM, 10 kg of biomeal, and 1 kg of micronutrient compounds.

For improving fruit size, Sapota trees require foliar sprays of NPK, Mg, and Zn during the fruit set period. Application of Nitrophoska 8: 12: 24: 4 by 100 grams/tree use is beneficial for the growth of Sapota trees. In addition to the recommendations for fertilizers, there are some standard recommendations for fertilizing Sapota trees. The 1-year-old plant needs 10 kg FYM, 0.2 kg N, 0.2 kg P, and 0.3 kg K.

Annual increase in manure and fertilizers should be FYM by 10 kg, N 0.2 kg, P 0.2 kg, and K 0.3 kg per tree is required. The trees need 50 kg FYM, 1 kg N, 1 kg P, and 1.5 kg K from the sixth year. All these fertilizers should be provided to the plants in September and October. Fertilizers were applied at the tree’s base at 45 cm from the trunk to the leaves. 

Step 8: Irrigation management for fruit development

Sapota trees can tolerate soil moisture deficiency well. The plants can be watered for 7-10 days in summer and 20-25 days in winter for better growth and higher yields. Once the Sapota trees are four or more years old, watering will benefit plant growth and crop yields only during very long dry periods of the year. Adult Sapota trees do not need frequent watering, and drinking too much water can cause the trees to fall or become uncultivated. 

In case you missed it: Sapota Grafting Methods(Chikoo); Pruning; Training

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Under drip irrigation, full-grown plants of 8-10 years require 40 to 50 liters of water in summer. Months and quantities can be reduced by up to 50%, depending on the weather conditions in other seasons. Irrigation is provided at intervals of 30 days in winter and 15 days in summer. This system is beneficial in saving 40% water with 70-75% higher income. The system is laid at a distance of 50 cm with two drippers. 

Step 9: Training and pruning for Sapota tree growth 

Plants are grown by inarching need training for proper shape and framework development. The Sapota tree usually has well-distributed branches and takes on a uniform shape, so pruning is not required every year. In addition, flowers and fruits are produced almost all year round, and harvesting capacity is very low. However, shoots that appear below the graft joint and up to 90 cm above the ground should be removed early. 

In Sapota, a strong central stem is essential. All growths on the rootstock below the graft joint should be removed. After one year of planting, the lower branches can be removed up to 1 meter. In the same way, overshaded and crowded branches are also removed. In Sapota, new growth and flowering occur together and have a mixed bearing habit. In new growth, flowers and fruits appear on the axis of the leaf, so the branches should not be pruned.

A strong tree structure requires a strong trunk. Train Sapota plants by removing the lower branches of the stem up to 45 cm. The lowest supports should be selected at least 50 cm above the ground level. No annual pruning is required. 

Step 10: Fruit drop causes and control

When the fruit reaches its maximum size, it can be picked and allowed to ripen from the tree. From experience, one can choose a variety of fruits by their maturity or size and shape. Sapota fruit drop is not a common problem with trees if they are healthy. Sapota problems are minimal provided the tree is warm, although Sapotas are not strictly tropical. Mature trees can handle temperatures of -3 to -2°C for a short time. Young trees are less established, and -1°C will be destroyed or killed.

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Chiku Yield
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Therefore, the sudden onset of cold may be one of the reasons for falling fruit from the Sapota plant. Fruit drop is a severe problem in Sapota cultivation. Spraying with GA3 by 50-100 ppm is very effective in getting a good set of fruits at flowering and preventing the fruit drop. It is very common for a tree to drop its fruit during the growing season as part of the natural thinning process. If the fruit drop is heavy, it could signify that the tree is under pressure, caused by dehydration (or too much water), too little nutrients, or even pests/diseases. 

Step 11: Sapota tree care for fruit growth

Sapota fruit is small, 5 to 9 cm in diameter, round to egg-shaped, and weighing 75 to 200 grams. Fruits ripening during March-May show better fruit quality. The weight of the fruit and shape are positively associated with the number of seeds and their distribution around the placenta. Seeds are well distributed in round fruits, and the number of seeds increases the weight of the fruit on the spot.

Seedling trees usually begin to take effect in 6 to 7 years. Grafted trees can begin to bear in the second to fourth year after planting. After ten years, a good crop can produce 150 to 400 pounds (45-180 kg) of fruit. Depending on the plant size and other cultural practices, this yield may increase from about the twelfth to the fifteenth year after planting. 

Isolated sapota trees may not be productive because growers are not self-sufficient. In self-adapted cultivars, the flowers require cross-pollination with another Sapota seed or variety to produce fruit. The best time to grow Sapota is in late summer and early fall. It grows well in humid or dry environments. After that, spread a thin layer of compost on the soil as it will act as a mulch for the young tree. Water the Sapota plant evenly, avoiding stems and leaves. 

Step 12: Why is Sapota not fruiting?

Generally, apple fertilizer to Sapota tree two to three times a year after the first year. Problems with Sapota are usually few. Cold stress or “wet feet” can severely affect Sapota, causing the Sapota fruit to fall and the tree to die.

Step 13: Improving fruit set

Fruit set in Sapota can be improved by spraying GA2 by l00ppm at full bloom and after fruit set. When flowering, spray NAA at 25-100 ppm and repeat after 15 days, resulting in a better fruit set. 

Step 14: Plant protection measures for crop growth

Insects – Leaf Webber, Hairy Caterpillars, and Budworms are common insects in Sapota trees. Spraying with phosalone 35 EC (2 ml), chloropyriphos 20 EC or Endosulfan 35 EC effectively controls pests.

Diseases – The major diseases reported are leaf spot, base rot, heart rot, and anthracnose. Applying Dithane M-45, copper oxychloride (3 g./l.), etc., has effectively controlled these diseases.

In case you missed it: Sapota Farming (Chiku), Planting, Care, Harvesting

Chiku Farming
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Step 15: Harvesting time is important for fruit yield

Ripe fruit is pale brown and has a lighter color under the skin when scratched, while in immature fruits, it is green. Ripe fruits are picked by hand and cut. It is not easy to determine when the Sapota is mature enough for harvesting. Larger trees require a pole with a cutter and a basket to hold fruit, or workers should use a ladder and twist the fruit until the stem is broken. Trees that grow too tall can be raised to reach the crop. 

It is difficult for beginners to decide the ripeness of the fruit. Immature fruit may not be soft for many days, may not produce as much sweetness and flavor, and may have pockets of coagulated latex inside the flesh. Fruits picked at maximum maturity usually ripen in 4 to 10 days. If you do not know when the fruit will ripen, you can wait for some of the fruit to fall and then start harvesting fruits of the same size. 


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