Jcaldeira, how is the farm coming along? updates?
The farm is coming along nicely, but not without some unexpected bumps in the road.
In 2013, during the dry season, approximately one-quarter of my farm burned in a grass fire started by neighbor burning his cane field. I lost over 100 trees. Survivors were retarded a year or two in growth.
Last year, 2014, there was a severe drought, with nearly no rain for 6 months. I learned a lot about the drought resistance of the popular species. Mango does great, avocado and mangosteen are okay, citrus not so well.
During the first few years, I focused on planting a very wide variety of fruits. Now I am focused on planting more of the ones with the most potential, based on taste, marketability, and success in my climate. That means I will be planting more mangosteen, longan, mango, and a few others. I need to take a trip to tropical Australia to obtain planting material, as not much is available locally.
I've become much better at grafting during the past year. The biggest 'light bulb' learning on grafting is to time it correctly - good mechanical technique is only half of it. In the tropics, we don't have as distinct seasons, but my mango grafting at the beginning of this rainy season is near 90%.
I've decided to top-work a 'Fiji Mango' tree in my yard. It's a high fiber variety that is favoured for making mango pickle, but not a good eating mango so I'll put several good eating mango varieties on it. Earlier this week I cut two of the three main branches to top work it. I'll cleft graft onto the shoots that emerge rather than bark-graft to the main trunk. The cleft grafts are much stronger; resistant to high winds and birds landing on them. It is so disappointing to see a good graft broken by wind or a bird! After these grafts have enough growth, I'll cut the one remaining limb and graft it.
Tree cut for top working
Waiting for shoots to cleft graft: