stablishment of an orchard is a long term investment and deserves a very critical planning. The selection of proper location and site, planting system and planting distance and varieties plays major role for maximum production. Evergreen fruit plants can be planted during February-March and August –September. Whereas, monsoons (August –September) are the best time for planting of evergreen fruit plants like mango, litchi, citrus, guava, loquat and papaya. However, litchi plants may also be planted in early October. Layout must be in such a way which provides optimum number of trees per unit area with sufficient space for proper development of each tree. Soil testing prior to the orchard plantation, system of layout, spacing of fruit plants, digging and filling of pits, time of planting, selection of healthy nursery plants, planting and care of young plants are important considerations of a successful orchard.
SUITABILITY OF SOIL & ITS TESTING The soil for an orchard must have proper water drainage & deep enough to permit good aeration and extensive root development. There should be no water stagnation during rainy season. Almost all the fruit crops do well in sandy loam to loamy soils which are rich in organic matter and pH in range of 5.5 to 7.5 (slightly acidic to neutral). Soil testing prior to plantation is a very crucial and important step for the successful establishment of an orchard. Analysis of soil for orchard plantation should be done upto the depth of two meters and sampling procedure for collection of soil samples should be followed as below:
- Collect the soil samples upto a depth of 6 feet (2 meters app.) starting from surface to depth of 15cm, 15-30cm, 30-60cm, 60-90cm, 90-120cm, 120-150cm and 150-180cm.
- Samples from different soil depths are collected with auger (Fig.2) or by exposing a soil profile and collecting samples from different depths with khurpa.
- Collect about ½ kg sample of soils from each depth and in this way total seven samples are collected, in case there is no hard pan. Put the soil sample in clean cloth bag and also put the label inside and outside in each sample bag indicating the complete address of the farmer, field number, depth of soil etc.
- The label should be written with the copying pencil.
- Send these samples to the nearby soil testing laboratory for testing and analyzing the various soil parameters.
LAYOUT AND PLANTING OF ORCHARD
Square system is followed in which distance between plant to plant and row to row is same
It is another most important activity in which tentative plan for the orchard showing the kind and variety of fruits to be grown in different blocks, building locations, irrigation channels, paths etc are marked. According to the planting system spacing may vary as optimum spacing regulates proper utilization of sunlight. Generally square system is followed in which distance between plant to plant and row to row is same and it allows intercultural operations from both the directions. In initial years of orchard planting filler plants like peach, plum, papaya and phalsa can be planted especially in mango and litchi orchards to use vacant space and to fetch early income due to their late bearing. The fillers should be removed when the permanent plants start commercial bearing. In this system, about 80 per cent of originals plants can be accommodated to make use of vacant space until the main orchards come into bearing. The growers are also advised to purchase 10 to 20 per cent more plants to fill the gaps after mortality of plants, if any .The planting distance of different fruit plants along with number of plants per acre is given below.
DIGGING AND FILLING OF PITS After locating the positions of the orchard trees, it is important that the trees are planted exactly where the stakes stood. Dig one meter deep and one meter wide pits for each plants and left open the pit for at least 15 days so that insect, pest and soil borne diseases are destroyed before refilling. While digging the pits care must be taken that top soil must be kept in separate place from lower soil to avoid mixing between two. Refill the pit with the mixture of top soil and farm yard manure in equal parts, 2-3 inches above the ground level, so that after watering loose soil may settle down to the actual ground level. To each pit add 15 ml Chloropyriphos 20 EC mixed in about 2Kg of soil against termite.
Selection of nursery plants: Always select nursery plants which are healthy, free from diseases and insect –pest attack. Procure plants from the authorized nursery and book your plants in advance. Purchase one to two year old fruit plants as these are ideal for planting. Purchase those plants and varieties which are recommended for your area. Care must be taken while lifting the plants to avoid breakage of earth balls and bud union. During transportation, sprinkle the water on the foliage of plants.
PLANTING AND AFTERCARE Young plants are planted straight in the middle of well prepared pit with the help of planting board. While planting care should also be taken during planting that bud union remains nine inches above the ground level. Young plants, if needed should be provided with stakes which should not damage the roots. Sprouts and off shoots should be regularly removed below the bud union.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
The writers, Yamini Sharma, Satwinderjit Kaur and Sarbjit Singh Aulakh are experts in planting of orchards. They are based at Krishi vigyaan Kendra Gurdaspur.