HIGH DENSITY LOQUAT ORCHARDS: PLANT SELECTION AND MANAGEMENT
High production costs represent the most limiting factor for loquat. Expansion of loquat in Spain will depend on our capacity to reduce costs, increase productivity and extend the offer with early, more profitable products. High density orchards of semi-dwarf trees of extra-early varieties represent an attractive approach to solve once all these challenges. To check suitability of loquat to extreme intensification we have designed an orchard of Magdal grafted on quince C at a distance of 2.5 × 1.7 m (2353 trees per ha). Cultivar was selected considering its earliness; rootstock due to their dwarfing ability and capacity to induce early bearing. In February 2001, rootstocks were planted in the field; T-budding was carried out in situ in September at 20 cm off the ground level. Budding success was high (86% of the scion developed). In October 2002, some trees formed the first flowers that were removed to allow tree growth and training carried out as a modified central leader. First tier of scaffold branches was formed on season 2003/2004 at 0.5 m height. First yield reached an average of 2.8 kg/tree on season 2003/2004. Most trees have completed the second tier of scaffold branches after 2004 harvest. Second yield in April 2005 reached a worthy level of 10.8 kg/tree (25 t/ha). Third yield was limited to 13.0 kg/tree (30 t/ha). At present, trees have occupied the space allotted and have formed the third last tier of limbs. Average height is now 1.87 m. Small size of the trees has substantially reduced labor costs in flower and fruit thinning. Earlier bearing, greater productivity and reduced costs suggest that high density orchards represent a more profitable way to cultivate loquat as long as we are able to maintain tree size. So far, crop load and dormant pruning seem to control tree size satisfactorily. Regulated deficit irrigation would be of help to reduce vegetative growth.
Hueso, J.J., Cañete, M.L. and Cuevas, J. (2007). HIGH DENSITY LOQUAT ORCHARDS: PLANT SELECTION AND MANAGEMENT. Acta Hortic. 750, 349-354
Eriobotrya japonica, 'Algerie', quince C, semi-dwarf trees, productivity, early bearing, earliness