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Topics - pineislander

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Tropical Fruit Discussion / What caused this Longan to die?
« on: September 12, 2018, 03:07:43 PM »
Full of fruit and just died of no apparent reason, no flood or drought, neighboring trees (Lychee/Mamey) are both OK.
What caused its sudden death almost overnight?

Close to my property on Pine Island, Lee County, Florida near Fort Myers, Brooks Tropical Fruit company has a 10 acre farm enclosed on the sides with windbreak cloth. The fruit is harvested regularly and shipped nationally. This is one of four fields located here. Today I took some photos inside. There are three rows on each raised section with shallow drainage ditches between each section. The trees are pruned every year to about six feet. The pruning is done section by section one section at a time in a sequence to stagger flowering and harvest across the field. At this time some trees have already been picked, some are ready to harvest and some are beginning to bud.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Mango ID needed
« on: August 01, 2018, 02:42:09 PM »
My place has 50 mango trees of about 25 varieties and this is one of the last I am trying to identify. The planting was part of the Treehouse nursery on Pine Island (SWFL) owned by Bob and Vivian Murray. This one did not bear last year and even after heavy pruning it has made a small crop this year.

Tree is about average size not dwarfish and not excessively vigorous.
The fruit skin is yellow with a slight pink blush, it bears in clusters of up to five fruit, and just began ripening last week. Flesh is fully yellow but not as dark as Carrie, taste is sweet somewhat spicy and aromatic but I have only eaten two so far.

For point of reference the last of Carrie has just finished here, Kent and Lemon Zest are ripening, and Mallika has been ripening for about 2 weeks.

Any thought on this variety?

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Seeking avocado Id's
« on: July 01, 2018, 07:49:16 PM »
I have several avocado trees which are unmarked and I would like to get them identified especially in respect to their ripening season.
They were planted on property formerly owned by Treehouse nursery owned by Bob and Vivian Murray but probably after their deaths by their daughter.
The first pictures are of two trees which are quite different from all the rest, much smaller in size both tree, leaf, and fruit.
Of all the avocados I have these two would be considered 'dwarf' type trees.
The fruit are small and do turn black. Could this be Wurtz?

Last year I began establishing three raised beds of fruit trees interplanted with vegetables, herbs, and short term fruits like Banana and Papaya. The trees were planted on beds topped off with compost and well mulched.

This is what it looked like at first:

Later, I planted single stalks of lemongrass down each side of the beds at 1 foot (30 cm)spacing. During the first few months I grew watermelon, cowpeas, pumpkin and sweet potatoes in the sandy soil between each bed. Later, I mulched the pathways between each bed with chipped wood mulch obtained from a hurricane debris shredding operation.
The intent was to serve 3 purposes:
1. Produce a permanent source of mulch for each bed adjacent to where it would be used.
2. Stabilize the sides of the raised beds to prevent slippage of mulch down the sides.
3. Use the grass to produce some shade and a low windbreak over the beds.
4. Occupy the space alongside each bed to prevent other weedy plants from becoming established.

Here are two views of how it looked once the grass became established:

Last week after one year's growth I cut all the lemongrass and placed it across the beds. It made a very good mulch coverage and began regrowing immediately. I may be able to cut it once again this summer if needed. I believe that rather than 1 foot spacing an 18"(20 cm) spacing would be close enough. The particular clone of lemongrass used is common but I have built up a stock of a different sort which grows much taller and does set viable seed during our wintertime, I'll be testing that one out later this year.

I recently ran across what appears to be a new archive of the Proceedings of the Florida State Horticultural Society.
It has a fairly good search feature which you can use to research topics of interest. The information goes back nearly 100 years.

Have fun!

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Relative size between six mango varieties
« on: March 06, 2018, 07:39:03 PM »
I'm planning a mango grove with multiple trees of several varieties and need to know the relative growth habits between them. I'm trying to determine which may be more or less vigorous or would need more or less space.
These will be grown in full sun conditions so if you have experience with these please let me know from smallest to largest.

Sweet Tart
Lemon Zest
Cotton Candy
Peach Cobbler

Citrus General Discussion / ID this citrus, please
« on: February 11, 2018, 08:17:51 PM »
Looking to find more info on this variety, tastes like lime, seedless, from Assam Northwest India.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Wind-resistant shade house design
« on: December 25, 2017, 04:56:17 PM »
I need to build a shade house for tree and garden plant propagation. My needs are not too big, and about 800 square feet would probably be about right. The site is subject to hurricane and so I'd like to know if anyone has experience with a design that has proven to be resistant to wind. This isn't for frost protection, overhead sprinkler would be adequate for occasional use in my climate (Southwest Florida). I need rodent protection designed in.

Anyone with ideas or experience I'd appreciate it.


Tropical Fruit Discussion / Banana/Plantain Macropropagation
« on: December 09, 2017, 05:27:09 PM »
This year I wanted to plant 50 banana/plantain trees but balked at prices from 5-30$ USD each. I began looking at how to grow plants myself and found a way which many people seem unaware of.

I'm going to describe to you how to obtain large quantities relatively disease and pest free banana or plantain suckers for a very low cost and at a fast high rate of multiplication. Macropropagation differs from laboratory tissue culture Micropropagation but obtains a similar result at very low cost using common materials anyone can obtain.

This technique was developed in Africa where plantain is a staple food source but many of the varieties have very low multiplication rates. The lack of sufficient suckers for planting made it difficult for small farmers to scale up their production quickly to meet food needs and market demand, even if they had space to grow more. The technique was delevoped by Dr. Moise Kwa of Cameroon for  his PhD. Thesis in the 1990's

The method is called PIF (Plants Issus de Fragments de Tiges-Fr.)(plantlet from stem fragments-Eng.) and uses the fact that hundreds of dormant buds lie beneath the leaf sheaths of every banana corm. These dormant buds lie waiting to grow but are inhibited by hormones produced in the plants apical growing tip (central bud). Using PIF techniques you can awaken these dormant buds and produce up to 100 banana plantlets from just one one sword sucker. Additionally, most pests and diseases will be eliminated by sterilization during the process yielding healthy plantlets ready to  grow well.

First and foremost, you need to select the healthiest sword suckers as 'mother' plants. They should be as large as possible and show no signs of disease. I would recommend sourcing these from an existing plant growing in a recently planted field with no signs of disease and if possible from tissue cultured plantlets. A minimum size would be 6" (150 mm). Learn how to identify common banana/plantain diseases like Sigatoka, Panama. Bunchy top, etc..

The sword sucker corms will be dug carefully from the mother plant, then trimmed of all roots leaving only bare white flesh at the base and cut closely at the top just above the ring surrounding the outer leaf sheath. This removes nematodes and their eggs and exposes possible corm weevil tunnels and will begin reducing the pest load of the material. Then a pot of boiling water is prepared and the corm is put into boiling water for ONLY 30 seconds. Alternatively, corms can be soaked in pesticides and fungicides or for 60 seconds in a 10:1 water:household bleach solution. This treatment eliminates virtually all pest/disease on the surface of the material in much the same way a laboratory treats tissue culture before micropropagation. I used the bleach method and rinsed the bleach thoroughly afterwards.

Once sterilized, you begin to peel away leaf sheaths one by one towards the center by cutting around each sheath just above where each sheath attaches to the corm. As you do this you will notice that each one has a "V" shape on one side and there is a dormant bud at the base of the "V". This would eventually form a sucker, but just as the center of the plant suppresses sucker growth, each one of these sucker buds suppresses growth of 10 dormant buds lying around it. These buds must be destroyed to allow the many others to activate, so destroy each of them them by deep cross cutting using a knife. Keep peeling off leaf sheaths one by one working inwards and killing buds at the  "V"'s until you cannot go further inwards. The result will look like a low cone shape with "X" marks every 180 degrees where you killed buds. Finally, destroy the central bud by cutting deeply into the center and removing all of it with a knife.

Once the corms are processed, plant them in a sterile humidity controlled environment. This can be fabricated using various materials wood/brick/plastic and able to hold 12" (300 mm) deep growing medium and have a height of 2 ft. (600 mm) to allow plant growth. It should be enclosed in plastic to hold humidity and at about 50% shade and be kept warm even hot 90-100F (30-36C) to stimulate growth. I used 30 gallon black plastic nursery pots covered by clear polythene sheeting to hold 3 corms.

Growing media needs to be as sterile as possible to prevent fungal disease. This can be done by steam heating sawdust, cacao or nut husks or composts. Solarization of moist medium for 30 days in plastic is another method. I used peat moss which had been solarized.

Growth should be visible in 30 days. I was able to harvest 10 suckers from each corm by 60 days. They need to be carefully cut off the corm leaving a small piece of corm and with at least 3 roots to be potted up. Another 30 days in shade and hardening off for 2 weeks and the plants are field ready. Professionals have been able to carefully kill off the first set of sucker growth which further
"re-activates" the corm to produce up to 100 plantlets from each corm.

I'll post some written descriptions with pictures and videos. Good luck and if anyone has questions or improvements let me know.


Tropical Fruit Discussion / Please ID unknown flowering tree
« on: November 08, 2017, 05:43:43 PM »
This is on a neighbor's property, first time blooming.

I am looking to buy 100 or more seeds of this palm. must be a good type for edible male flowers.

Citrus General Discussion / Fertilization key to combatting HLB
« on: October 07, 2017, 10:13:48 PM »
The Citrus Industry magazine from Feb 2016 mentions several varieties with tolerance to HLB infection, and on the last page mentions ground applied controlled release fertilizers foliar feeding plus extra manganese and boron as being keys to producing better citrus even when infected. The image (Fig. 3) of Sugar Belle fruit produced with & without extra nutrition is very striking.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Avocado Burl sprouts before top-working
« on: October 06, 2017, 07:44:25 PM »
I have a seedling avocado which I intend to top work. A month ago I cut it down to a stump with two forked branches expecting to get sprouts to top work next spring. Between the fork there is a burl growth which immediately sprouted hundreds of sprouts, massive growth. I rubbed most of them off at 1/2" long or less, but they appear ready to come back again. There is some bud growth above which appears normal.
Has anyone dealt with this before?
If so, were you able to eventually get the burl growth to calm down and other sprouts to proceed normally?
Would you suggest cutting again below the burl?
I do have several other grafted trees with similar burls which have made significant sprouts. Do sprouts from this area eventually form normal branches and fruit, or should they be pruned off?

here is a pic:

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Procuring mulch from storm vegetative debris
« on: September 19, 2017, 08:10:24 AM »
In the aftermath of hurricane Irma, millions  perhaps billions of cubic yards of vegetative debris are being generated during the cleanup. This resource needs to find a place and I have done some research into how to tap into that stream. I have read manuals created by FEMA, who reimburses local communities for the costs. Ultimately federal taxes pay for it. I also contacted the local agency running the show.

Generally, contractors come to the area, collect the debris from curbside, roadways, and right-of-ways using truck mounted hydraulic claws and transport the material to a staging/grinding area (DMS- Debris Management Site) where they unload. The debris is reduced using various grinding machines to 25% of its original volume. For example, one acre of debris one foot tall (one acre-foot) is about 1600 cubic yards which after grinding becomes 400 cubic yards.
These videos show typical operations:

How much mulch does it take?
In order to mulch one acre to four inches requires 532 cubic yards, six inches requires 800 cubic yards, etc. Here is a calculator for doing these figures:

How to get the mulch?
In my area, the County Solid Waste department is in charge and the contractors work for them. So, you should contact the responsible agency to access the mulch. They told me that they will be making it available, but in my research I saw that in some cases it goes to waste-to-energy power plants, wood pellet mills, ethanol production plants, mulch producing plants, municipal compost facilities, or is used for fill. These uses are competing for the mulch, so to get it might take some persuasion. One tactic in your benefit might be that your use is nearby and requires the least hauling and you are a part the community the local government serves.

Other considerations:
Timing- The operation may move quickly in a 'surge', but they also generally return to pick up at least a second time.
Size of trucks-
As seen in the videos, some operators haul the mulch using very large trucks, up to 100+ yard capacity. They are very long, very tall and cannot turn sharply. Some of these are self-unloading units in which the floor of the truck 'walks' the load to the back to dump. On top of access problems due to size and maneuverability some neighborhoods have road weight restrictions which might prevent large deliveries and lastly these trucks can't generally get off road, up hills, across ditches or travel on soft or wet ground.
If you want delivery you need to make the process as easy as possible. It would be helpful to create a map of directions for delivery.

Mulch quality-
The mulch generated isn't at all like what you may have seen commercially available. It is ground once for expediency and not screened. It will consist of much larger pieces in excess of 1 inch diameter and over 1 foot long. There may be entire branches or large chunks included. Theoretically the debris is checked for trash or non-natural material but some may be contaminated.
This video shows a self-unloading truck and typical mulch quality being transported for further processing as landscape mulch.

Making use of the mulch-
You might consider storing the mulch for a while. It is 'green' and will generate heat from decomposition in the pile. There will be some smell. There is a possibility of fire.
This article discusses the hazard and mitigation:

Storing the mulch allows it to break down, the process will eventually make compost. Turning and wetting accelerates the process.
I hope that sharing this helps and if you get some mulch I'd like to hear about your experience.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / "TPK" mango?
« on: July 04, 2017, 08:58:02 PM »
I have a 5 year old mango tree with the label TPK. Does anyone recognize this? The tree did not bear fruit this year, and is a relatively small tree, upright in growth habit. I cans see it has dried remnants of wild Momordica Charantia vine which likely smothered the tree last year. Any help would be appreciated, thanks.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Irrigation filter mesh size
« on: June 23, 2017, 06:54:15 AM »
I'm building an irrigation system using a 2" shallow well in sandy soil and microsprayers and would like a recommendation for a 2" pipe size inline strainer to install which will give me good filtration and be easy to clean or blowdown. What would you suggest as a model which has performed well and what filter screen mesh size to use.

How do you usually orient the seed when planting a mango seed?
1. -point up
2. -point down
3. -on edge
4. -flat

Tropical Fruit Discussion / ID needed for Two fruits
« on: May 14, 2017, 08:42:17 AM »
My neighbor has two unknown fruit trees. The first has a Surinam Cherry growing amongst it's roots and is flowering, so a sure ID will be after fruiting. The flower pic didn't turn out very clear, If needed I will take another. By the leaves it may be a Garcinia.

The second has a distinct 3-pronged stem growth habit. No flowers or fruit, and has sprouted strongly from roots, perhaps after die-back.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Same soil, two labs, test differences
« on: April 11, 2017, 06:57:15 AM »
I took a soil sample according to instructions, divided the sample into 2 parts, and got results from different labs. Here is a comparison of the results with significant differences noted.

I'm planning a new orchard to add to the current 50 mango and 50 avocado I already have. My goal is to have a project during my retirement with a diverse collection of tropical fruit and vegetables for home use.
While profit isn't a prime motive, anything I can grow in excess will hopefully pay for maintaining things. I've been growing things much of my life and have owned both temperate and tropical farms which had income. The setting is SW Florida on Pine Island offshore from Ft. Myers near Bokeelia, which is a good frost limiting microclimate surrounded by water and barrier islands. I have 3 acres available, reasonably good elevation, typical Florida sandy infertile Flatwoods soil and the site has a decades long history as a successful tropical fruit grove mainly Mango and Lychee and was previously a tree nursery.

I've decided to do a polyculture during the orchard establishment phase, where assorted inter-crops and cover crops are grown between the trees. Past success on this site has been with trees on raised beds, a pattern which I'll continue. There will be about 3-400 trees of various sizes, some small, some large.

Here is an image of a typical planting:

My questions are about installing an irrigation system for the orchard. I'm very familiar with piping system design and installation from 40 years general industry experience, but haven't done any irrigation before.
Here are some questions:
University of Florida has the following recommendations for water use with microsprinklers:

Mature trees: average trees need about 20 gallons/day

I want to design the system to ultimately support mature trees, but at first to support a mixed polyculture of other plants in the beds. I understand that rain days will decrease usage, and best practice on sandy soil is more frequent but short-duration irrigation.
Is 20 gallons/day/tree a reasonable max capacity estimate?

Microjet sprinklers: (deliver about 7-25 gal/hour) ~15 gallons/hour, best to install two microjets/per tree

If I install microjets along each 6 ft wide bed, what spacing should I use?
This will depend on how wide the coverage is for typical microjets, can anyone help?

If I want to selectively irrigate either the beds or the paths between the beds, can I buy microjets which spray 180 degrees and just pull up the stakes and re-orient the jets to spray the direction I want, or is there another option like adjustable spray patterns?

Can anyone suggest the best makers and models of durable cost effective microjet sprinklers?
Can anyone suggest the best sources for general irrigation tubing and accessories like filters, meters, etc?

Thanks for any advice you can give!

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Fruit protection bags
« on: December 19, 2016, 09:40:26 PM »
Was looking for the bags I've seen people using overseas for fruit protection and ran across these which might work. They are the disposable spun-bonded hair nets used in restaurants, and are probably available everywhere at restaurant suppliers. They should be pretty insect tight but would allow good air circulation.
A little tape to seal and good. Has anyone used something like this?

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Stimulation of guava fruiting by branch bending
« on: December 19, 2016, 06:42:54 PM »
I'm not sure how well known this technique is. The branches are tied down for a month until new branching begin. I've heard of bending Carambola branches but didn't hear an explanation for why. It might also be applicable to other fruits with similar bearing habit (bears flowers on current season's growth). It might be useful for out-of-season bearing, or to have a crop bear in a season with less disease or insect pressure.

Video of out of season harvest, guava branches are bearing away from tip growth and along top of arch of branch.

Guava plant bears flowers on current seasonís growth/ new shoots irrespective of time of year. New shoots are produced on mature wood or past seasonís growth laterally or terminally. In general flowers are produced in the axils of leaves as solitary or in cymes of two or three flowers. The current seasonís flowering shoot continues its growth till fruit setting. After fruit setting the terminal bud ceases its growth until the next growing season. Sometimes, flowers appear at the tip of the current seasonís growth. Such shoots do not grow further.

Thus, crop load depends upon the number of new shoots. Emergence of more number of lateral shoots on a branch means more flowering and fruiting. Upright/erect growing branches produce new lateral shoots near to their top end. The lower buds of such branches remain dormant because of apical dominance phenomenon. The tip of the branches produces a plant hormone known as auxin that moves downwards and inhibits the growth and development of lateral buds. This suppressive effect of auxin on lateral buds gets diluted in spreading, droopy or horizontally growing branches and such branches produce enormous number of new lateral shoots.

Therefore, guava branches can be induced to promote more numbers of lateral shoots by adoption of branch bending technique. Bending of branches invigorates or activates the dormant lateral buds by means of suppressing the apical dominance. Besides, this technique induces more flowering by maintaining higher C: N ratio and stimulating proline biosynthesis under an episode of stress.

Link to the method:

Powerpoint presentation:

Scientific paper on the effect:

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