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Grow Oranges For Cash

by Harvest Money Editor
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Oranges can be grown in the central, parts of the west but most especially in the east and north of the country.

Bush Clearing

Clear natural vegetation and hills. Two methods for this; chemical (use of weed masters, herbicides) and manual method (mechanical use of farm tools like pangs tractors). Avoid bush burning, because you can burn people’s crops, forest activists say you will kill species, soil scientists say you kill living organisms, soil PH and nutrients such as oxygen.

Site Selection

One factor to be considered is the slope or topography. Gentle slope neither too steep nor too flat because when it rains the run off will allow aeration. Citrus fruits do not do well in water logged areas like other crops.
Avoid rocky places because they disturb root development, avoid stony or murram areas because in case of a storm, it will not stay and avoid swampy areas.
Citrus fruits do not do well in places with shade such as tree shades and the soil should be sandy, loamy and deep.

Seed Selection

This is the first step in citrus production. You are supposed to get seedlings from research centres or certified nursery beds because they have knowledge of management of diseases and budding.

Planting

You need to know the spacing that is to say, an acre is 4,000m2, hectare 2.5 acres in one (10,000m2). Spacing is six meters by six, from one plant to another is also six meters.The depth of the hole should be two feet. You are advised to dig the holes 30 days before planting. It is highly recommended you add organic fertilizers in the holes.

Harvesting and post-harvest handling

Harvesting of orange fruits was done throughout the year, with a major peak period running from September to December.  Once picked from the tree, the fruits are packed in polythene bags for pricing and transportation to various destinations for distribution. Some of the harvested fruits are sold immediately after harvest; while the rest are stored in mud huts with grass-thatched roofs, with or without grass on the floor.

Some losses arising from rotting are experienced where fruits are kept in farm storage for a number of days.  This specifically happens in situations where traders give the impression that they prefer fruits that had spent some time in farm storage because the peel would develop some resistance to breakage and, thus minimize damage during transportation.

  • Budded or grafted plants start producing fruits at about 2-3 years from planting.
  • Full productivity is reached in about 10 years.
  • Oranges stay on the tree from 6 to 9 months depending on the variety and climate conditions.
  • Maturity is indicated by color change to slightly yellowish.
  • Harvest citrus fruits by clipping or pulling from the tree.
  • The use of picking bags or baskets is recommended to collect the fruit and to prevent contact with the ground to reduce lowered quality.
  • The average yield in Uganda is 10-12 tons/ha/year.
  • With good management, one can get 40 tons/ha/year.
  • One tree can produce 2 sacks (90-130kg)/tree per season

Oranges are ready for harvesting when the fruits change color from natural green to slightly yellowish color.
To harvest, clip or pull the fruit gently from the tree using a basket to collect. The maturity period of oranges varies largely depending on the variety and method of propagation (whether the crops are grafted or raised using seeds). The grafted oranges, e.g. Washington Navel orange, start bearing fruit after about 3 years from planting.

Maturity of fruits is indicated by the color change from green to slightly-yellowish. When ready, fruits should be carefully harvested without causing injuries. Avoid shaking of trees to let fruits fall as this causes bruises leading to disease infection at storage and transportation. Under smallholder systems, mature fruits are always hand-picked mainly by women and children who form the majority of the farm labor force in Africa.

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