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Topics - jcaldeira

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Tropical Fruit Discussion / Ideal Scion Length for Grafting
« on: March 25, 2015, 04:40:41 PM »
What is the ideal scion length for cleft and whip grafting?  Have there been studies showing how results vary with various scion lengths?

Most of my scions are between 100 and 150 mm (4"-6") and I choose this length mostly because I am blindly following what I was taught.  I like to have 4 or 5 buds on a scion, but that's about the only justification I have.   My results are very good when the rootstock and scion are both in a growth mode, but I wonder if it would be even better with shorter or longer scions.  What do you folks think?

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Too much fruit. What does one do?
« on: March 16, 2015, 02:45:06 AM »
It's feast of famine when it comes to most fruit production.   What do y'all do with your excess fruit?

I freeze and process a little in jams and chutneys to give as gifts, and bring bags of fresh fruit to friends.  In a year or two I'll have enough to starting selling.  What do you do with all the fruit you can't personally use?

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Propagation by Cuttings
« on: March 06, 2015, 04:03:46 PM »
I am interested in propagating new plants from my Cherry Guava, Blackberry Jam Fruit, and Pepper vine.   What are the best practices for maximizing success when propagating from cuttings?

For herbaceous plants. such as Basil, starting them in water seems to work best.  For figs, I've had more success planting directly in soil in a plastic tent to maintain high humidity.  What works with Cherry Guava, Blackberry Jam Fruit, and Pepper?

Or is it easier to air-layer?

Citrus General Discussion / Picking W.I. (Key) Limes - Ouch!
« on: February 25, 2015, 06:00:52 PM »
Every time I pick a bag of West Indian (Key) Limes, the tree thorns poke poor innocent me.  Does anyone know of a clever device that is effective for picking the limes off the tree?  Something that would extend my reach would be nice, too.

Recipes / Soursop Drink
« on: February 14, 2015, 11:52:45 PM »
I've only eaten soursop fresh.  Yesterday my niece told me she's only drank the juice in Indonesia, but never the fresh fruit.  I looked up how to juice soursop and make a tasty drink.  This is what learned:

2 cups blended soursop pulp (seedless)
5 (3+2)  cups water
1 can condensed milk (can replace with some sugar, but, tsk, tsk)
2 Tbs lime juice
1 tsp grated nutmeg
1  Tbp vanilla extract
sugar (optional)
Serve over ice

Citrus General Discussion / Citrus 'Node Count'
« on: December 24, 2014, 12:56:14 AM »
There was a concept of 'node count' promulgated on the old Gardenweb and Forumup forums that basically stated that a grafted scion/budwood, or a cutting, 'remembers' its maturity and will express sexual maturity depending on this node count.  It's my understanding that a 'node' is essentially equivalent to a growth flush.  Seems reasonable, but I think there's more going on.

It's clear that grafted citrus and branch cuttings flower sooner than their seedling brethren that are focused on vertical growth to capture sunlight and root growth to ensure survival.  However:
(1) A farmer near me has an old seedling lime tree that was broken off near the soil line during a cyclone two years ago.  The root suckers are now blooming in abundance.  The root suckers should have a single digit node count, yet mature at 24 months.

(2) There is evidence that flowering can be accelerated by grafting a young seedling scion onto a mature tree, so the mature tree pushes the scion a lot.  Thus it seems flowering is also influenced by the rootstock.

(3) I've had some 10 month old rough lemon seedlings bloom after being stressed to near death with lack of water, while the better-cared for seedlings did not.

Is it really node count, or is flowering a much more complex event?

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Fruit packaging
« on: November 07, 2014, 03:12:52 PM »
Inspired by this ridiculous sighting: , a little web search on fruit packaging yielded these creative but mostly-absurd packaging ideas:

Citrus General Discussion / Citrus - Number of years to bear fruit
« on: October 28, 2014, 06:02:18 PM »
My farm has plenty of two and three year old citrus trees, but none of my Valencia oranges have flowered yet.  Is this normal?  All are grafted onto rough lemon rootstock.

Most of my Navel oranges had a few fruit last season.  The lemons fruited in 1-2 years, limes in 2-3, but no Valencia, no mandarin (except one Cleopatra), no grapefruit or pomelo.   How much longer?   All are grafted from mature scions on rough lemon and sour orange rootstocks. 

This article linked below introduces a book titled The Ghosts of Evolution: Nonsensical Fruit, Missing Partners, and Other Ecological Anachronisms.  The book seems interesting, has good reviews, and is now on my Amazon wish list.  Has anyone read it?

"avocados coevolved with ground sloths and were originally eaten by gomphothere — elephant-like creatures that lived during the Miocene and Pliocene, between 12 million and 1.6 million years ago, who happily reaped the fruit with their hefty trunks, crunched them with their massive teeth, and passed the seeds comfortably through their oversized digestive tract.

"Avocado’s strategy for propagation made a great deal of sense throughout the long life of its lineage — until the present moment. Even after thirteen thousand years, avocado is clueless that the great mammals are gone. For the avocado, gomphothere and ground sloths are still real possibilities. Pulp thieves like us reap the benefits. Homo Sapiens will continue to mold the traits of the few species of genus Persea it prefers. Ultimately, however, wild breeds will devolve less grandiose fruits, or else follow their animal partners into extinction."

Related video:

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Fiji Drought
« on: September 28, 2014, 01:10:03 AM »
It's been nearly five full months since the western and northern parts of Fiji's main islands received significant rain.  Some water wells and bore holes have dried up, and government is transporting water by barge and truck to some affected areas.   Livestock farmers are culling herds due to lack of forage, and moving their stock to neighboring areas to find grass.  Vegetable farmers can't plant and are harvesting some crops prematurely.  Wild fires are increasingly problematic despite a fire ban.  Hydro-power electric plants are expected to start running short of water within a month.

My farm's bore hole is still providing enough water for my household needs, but not enough to keep all 15 acres properly watered, or to give to more than one or two neighbors. 

I'm learning a lot about which young tree species are most drought resistant.  Citrus tolerance is disappointing.  I'm focused on keeping the most exotic fruit trees alive and to preserve maximum fruit diversity. Mature trees are doing much better than the younger ones.   A few mostly sad photos from my farm:

Soursop is trying to hang onto a few fruit while shedding many leaves.  Young coconut and sugar cane are suffering

Papaya, Banana/Plaintain and Breadfruit have shed most leaves

Some trees, such as this little Jackfruit and Mulberry, are still trying to fruit:

Citrus fares poorly on most of my soils despite hardy rough lemon rootstock.  Here's one of the worst:

Black Sapote, Star Apple, Jamaican Cherry, Ice Cream Bean, Abiu, Langsat. and avocado are doing okay with a little supplemental watering.

Among the most drought resistant on my soil are Mango, Sapodilla, Cinnamon, Macadamia, Cashew and Sandalwood (Yasi)

Of course I'm watering the shadehouse but I need rain before I can collect scion wood for grafting, and to plant out.

Chance of rain tomorrow. . . .

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Slow-growing Marang (Terap)
« on: August 31, 2014, 12:20:53 AM »
I am concerned that something is causing my few seedling Marang to grow slower than their potential.  The grew fast in the shadehouse while they had energy from the seeds in plastic bags, but when planted out they've hardly put out any leaves. 

They are in well-draining loam soil, 40% shade (under cassava that will be cut out when the Marang grows a bit), and I water it weekly.  A bit windy, but not extreme enough to bother Jackfruit or Breadfruit.  Soil  is pH near 6.5.  I have not fertilized them yet.   Here's a sad picture of one of my Marang:

Since my Jackfruit and Breadfruit thrive in a similar environment on my farm, I can only speculate that Marang has somewhat different environmental needs.  Wind, maybe?   Any ideas?

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Best way to water young trees
« on: August 20, 2014, 07:23:25 PM »
During a period of drought, is it better to water deeply at one place in the root zone, or spread it out with a lighter watering?   I water some of my one and two year old trees pouring from 20-liter plastic cans (no hose to reach).
It's not really practical for me to give each young tree more than one 20-liter can of water per week.  I'm trying to maximize water uptake by the tree, but also encourage deep roots.  The soil is clay-loam and soaks up the water quickly in most places. Most of these trees were planted 9 or 21 months ago at the start of the rainy season.  So, pour it one spot or spread it around under the tree?

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Australian Avocados
« on: August 04, 2014, 07:25:19 PM »
This morning I grafted 15 avocado seedlings with an unknown variety.  I have not seen the fruit because it's not in season now, but I was told it has a purple skin, unlike the green-skinned West Indian variety that is most typical here in Fiji.  Can anyone guess the type of avocado this might be?

It's unlikely to be a Mexican type, as it is very humid here.  I'm hoping someone of the forum might have a clue, especially our Australian friends since most foreign fruit stock here was brought here by Australian agricultural aid.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Peeling a mango
« on: July 06, 2014, 10:53:31 AM »
After deseeding, . . .

Tropical Fruit Buy, Sell & Trade / *Delete*
« on: May 21, 2014, 03:10:57 AM »

Citrus General Discussion / Mystery Citrus
« on: May 19, 2014, 10:38:07 PM »
Today I bought two citrus I have never seen before at the local market.  They are the size of a large grapefruit, with a skin resembling Rough Lemon. While flesh inside.   Any idea what it might be?   Here's a photo:

The only Pomelo I've seen here has a very thick rind.

It taste similar to an old-style sour grapefruit.  Tasty with enough honey drizzled on it.  The most remarkable thing about this fruit is the ease in which the flesh separates from the segment walls.  The flesh peels right off - I wish most grapefruit would do that!

Any idea what I might have here?

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Avocado Runt Seedlings
« on: May 12, 2014, 05:53:24 PM »
Approximately 15% of my young grafted avocado trees are clearly runts.  At one and a half years old, most of my trees are near 2 meters high, while the runts are not much bigger than when planted out a year ago (30 cm).    Are the runts caused by being too long in a plastic bag that inhibited taproot growth, or are they primarily genetic runts?

It's easy enough to replace them, but I'm curious to learn the cause.  It seems 'once a runt, always a runt' - no fertilizer seems to help.

Citrus General Discussion / Rootstock Sucker Madness
« on: April 13, 2014, 11:10:41 PM »
I recently pruned the lower branches off many of my citrus trees, and now I'm plagued with shoots coming out of the rootstocks.  Is there a good way to reduce the number of rootstock suckers that a plant generates?  How long with this plague last?

I only cut off the braches low to the ground to keep fruit off the ground, facilitate cutting grass and reducing mosquito habitat.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Name my farm
« on: April 08, 2014, 12:33:13 AM »
I'm looking for a clever name for my farm.  Any ideas?

The farm is approximately 15 acres, seaside, tropical.  Predominant fruits are mango, citrus and avocado, but growing a little of everything I can find that thrives here.  And honey bees.  Hillside, facing west.  Beautiful view, sunsets. It's near the northernmost point on the island, adjacent to Bligh waters, where Captain Bligh of Bounty fame sailed through after the mutiny. Wildlife includes fruit bats, crabs, mongoose and fish.  The area is known as Volivoli ("trading place").

Edit: It would be best if the name looked nice on a jar of fruit jam or honey.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Theory of Bark Grafting
« on: February 26, 2014, 03:35:07 PM »
I need help understanding the theory of bark grafting.  When bark is peeled away from a stem/stock, which layers are on the bark, and which remain on the stock?  Does peeling a bark tear the vascular cambium layer in half, or is it on one side?  Is the graft joining only on the stock side, or the bark side?

I recently made three bark grafts to top-work a citrus tree, and only one succeeded.  That's enough, as it's quite healthy, but I don't really understand how bark grafts work.  Specifically where is the scion and stock joining together?


Tropical Fruit Discussion / Pale Leaf Mystery
« on: February 16, 2014, 03:52:50 PM »
I need help diagnosing a problem I have with young fruit trees planted on one section of my farm.  On this area, maybe  40 meter square (1/2 acre), most of the trees have pale, yellow, leaves.  The same trees on other sections of the farm are fine.  Since it is not species-specific, my thinking is that the soil is either deficient in some nutrient, or has some toxin.

The soil is clay-loam, with a bedrock of old black volcanic lava underneath, maybe 1-2 meters below.  I can rule out salt, as my other trees near the sea are fine.  I've also fertilized same as my other trees:  Half-rotted manure top dressing and an NPK (13-13-21) sprinkled every few months.

I've sampled the soil in a few locations between the trees (so not tainted by fertilizer) and sent them to an Agriculture lab for testing.  It will take a few weeks to learn the results, but I doubt anyone in Fiji is capable of telling me which nutrient is the one causing the problem.

Here are some visuals.  I welcome your thoughts and speculation.  * Click to see full-screen images *

Overview of area:

Detail of Citrus, Abiu and Custard Apple (Sugar Apple in U.S. lingo):

Tropical Fruit Discussion / What variety of mango might this be?
« on: January 12, 2014, 10:32:06 PM »
A guy from the department of agriculture visited my farm last weekend to help with some mango grafting.  He brought some scions from an unknown variety, along with one of the fruit.  I'd appreciate any thoughts on what this variety might be.  It was imported to Fiji, so is likely a named variety.

The fruit skin when ripe is light green with bit of yellow.  Medium size.  The flesh is yellow-orange and very low fiber.  The seed is very thin and mono embryonic. 


Any ideas? 

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Lucky Durian Find
« on: January 06, 2014, 04:45:33 PM »
I've been searching for durian seeds and seedlings for a long time.  Word was out in this small island nation and, finally, a friend-of-a-friend comes through for me!  I am now the proud owner of 5 young durian trees, each 60-90 cm (2-3 feet).  A bit spindly, but I can not believe my luck.  I also have one seedling spouted from a Thai seed, so 6 plants total.  Just wanted to share my joy!


"Growers and scientists suspect that many of Florida's 69 million citrus trees are infected, with some estimates as high as 75 percent." 
USDA is coordinating an emergency response:

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Some ideas for our fruit trees. . . .
« on: November 26, 2013, 07:37:11 PM »
Some creative ideas for a fruit garden on these web pages from Axel Erlandson's garden:


If anyone's achieved something like this with a fruit tree, please share a photo!

mod edit: removed hot linked image
I thought the image I posted fell under "fair use" copyright, but I changed it to an image on my postimage account.  -John

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