Status and prospects of rambutan cultivation in India

P.C. Tripathi, G. Karunakaran, T. Sakthivel, V. Sankar, R. Senthil Kumar
Rambutan (Nephelium lappaceum var. lappaceum) is indigenous to the Malay Archipelago. It is widely cultivated in South-East Asian countries. In India, rambutan was introduced about 70 years back from Malaysia and Sri Lanka by some fruit lovers. Initially it was planted in home gardens of Kerala state. Later on, it was spread in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Subsequently, several cultivars of rambutan were introduced by private nurseries. At present, in India, rambutan is cultivated in some areas of Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka states. The estimated area under this fruit is less than 1000 acres. Most of the trees of rambutan are from seedlings origin. Efforts were made to collect and evaluate elite seedlings of rambutan from Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu and results of it, some promising lines were identified. Two cultivars have been released for commercial cultivation in India. Some nurseries have also identified a few cultivars. The available important commercial cultivars in India are ‘Arka Coorg Arun’, ‘Arka Coorg Peetabh’, ‘N 18’ and ‘E 35’. Rambutan is propagated by approach grafting (inarching), air layering, budding and grafting. Approach grafting is successful but it is a more labour intensive and cumbersome process. Among other methods such as cleft, veneer grafting and chip, T and patch budding have been tried for multiplication but most of them were not very successful. Patch-budding is preferred as having a higher rate of success. Rambutan is planted at 6×6 m distance in Indian conditions. The trees are irrigated during dry months and now drip irrigation is adopted by several growers. The trees propagated through seedling start fruiting at 6-7 years while grafted trees start fruiting from 3 to 4 years. Rambutan produces fruits twice a year in South-East Asian countries, but in India, it fruits once in a year. The flowering extends from January to May in different regions. Apis cerana was found to be the predominant pollinator followed by A. florea, ants and wasp. The fruits are usually ripe in month of July to October. The average yield from 10-year-old plants was around 25-30 kg. There is no major pests and disease observed in rambutan in India. However, minor incidence of stem borer, mealy bugs and leaf scorching has been noticed. Rambutan is grown commercially within 12-15° of the equator and requires around 22-30°C temperature for optimum growth. India has almost 1.00 lakh km2 area under tropical humid climatic region spread over Western Ghats, the Malabar Coast, Lakshadweep and Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep. These are experiences moderate to high temperature with seasonal but heavy rainfall. This region persists to warm or high temperatures, which normally do not fall below 18°C. There is good potential of expansion of rambutan cultivation in these areas. In the recent past, India is importing a sizeable quantity of rambutan from Thailand and also from other countries. The expansion of rambutan in these areas will be helpful to meet domestic demands and may also open frontiers for export.
Tripathi, P.C., Karunakaran, G., Sakthivel, T., Sankar, V. and Senthil Kumar, R. (2020). Status and prospects of rambutan cultivation in India. Acta Hortic. 1293, 33-40
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2020.1293.5
status, rambutan, India, potential, cultivation

Acta Horticulturae