In India, after banana and mango, Citrus fruits rank third in area and production. Sweet oranges are the second largest citrus fruits cultivated in the country.
Climate and Soil
Sweet oranges grows well in dry, semi-arid to subtropical conditions. However, the plants grows well under subtropical climate and even withstand occasional light frosts. They do not perform well under cooler climates.
Temperature- An average temperature of 16o-20o C is required for its growth. The plant can tolerate a maximum temperature of 32-40 C and a minimum temperature of 17o-27o C.
Irrigation and rainfall- Being an evergreen plant, it requires good amount of water and at least well distributed annual rainfall of 500-755mm.
Soil- It appreciates any soil type, required the soil to be aerated and deep enough to allow the roots to penetrate to desired depth.
Cultivation Tips for commercial purpose
Planting- Planting is generally done during monsoon in north-western and western parts of India.
The land should be ploughed thoroughlyto soften the upper soil. Pits of 60cm x 60cm x 60cm size should be dug. The pits are then filled with 15-20kgs of FYM.
Planting distance- Plant-to-plant distance should be kept as 6m and 6m row-to-row in square system of planting.
Training and pruning- The trees are trained to a single system and any shoot emerging from the portion below the bud union should be removed regularly. During the first year of its growth, if the plant grows beyond the height of 0.7-1m, it should be punched off to develop side shoot. Only 4-6 branches having wide angle with the main trunk, should be allowed to grow up to 3-4m. Thereafter no training is required.
Pruning of bearing trees differs with the variety. it consists of the removal of the dead, diseased, criss-cross and weak branches. Removal of water sprouts and suckers from each rootstocks below the bud union is also essential and should be attended to regularly along with thinning of the shoots for better penetration of sunlight and aeration. Also the cut ends of the prunned stems should be treated with Bordeaux paste to avoid fungal infection.
Best time for prunning in bearing trees is after harvesting during late winter or early spring. After each pruning, spraying of Bavistin (1ml/litre of water) is beneficial to avoid any secondary infection.
Harvesting- Sweet oranges mature in 9-12 months.