How to Start a Commercial Orange Farm

Learn how to start a commercial orange farm. The orange fruit of the citrus family reproduces asexually. That is why different varieties of hybrid mix abound. Widely grown in the tropics it is the most cultivated fruit in the world.

Sweet orange accounts for 68% of citrus production worldwide with over 72 million tons produce for commercial purposes. It is a domesticated plant cross 56% mandarin, 42% pomelo. It was introduced to Europe by Portuguese merchant with top producers China, Brazil.

Things to Consider

The first step in commercial orange farm production is to write a business plan. Then carry out a feasibility study to find a suitable site. Learn how to grow oranges and study the climatic condition, soil composition, water level.

The fruit requires huge amount of watering and the soil well-drained. Other considerations are startup funding, labor, government laws guiding the business. The business is long termed, lucrative and moderately challenging.

Top Producers of Orange

The fruits are cultivated in subtropical and tropical areas. High quality oranges are grown in the Mediterranean region.

Top producers are Brazil, China and United States of America – Florida. Other major growers are Argentina, Central America, Caribbean and Mexico. More are South Africa, Australia, Japan, Spain, Greece, Morocco and Israel.

  • Brazil
  • China
  • United States of America – Florida
  • Argentina
  • Central America
  • Caribbean
  • Mexico
  • South Africa
  • Australia
  • Japan
  • Spain
  • Greece
  • Morocco
  • Israel

Diseases

Orange tree are susceptible to various diseases. Citrus diseases cause damage to leaves and death to trees. Common symptoms are black spots, lesions on fruit skin. Others are spotted leaves, small fruits.

Disease control methods include growing resistant rootstock, chemical suppression, and shield from contamination. Diseases include citrus tristeza virus, citrus canker, citrus cholorosis variegated, citrus sudden death and Huanglongbing.

Citrus Diseases

  • citrus tristeza virus
  • citrus canker
  • citrus cholorosis variegated
  • citrus sudden death
  • Huanglongbing

Products

The fruit has good economic and commercial value. This is because of its sweet, sour flavor and juice.

The fruit is eaten raw made into marmalade, juice concentrate and peel used in animal feed. Other uses are as a garnish, orange zest, orange juice, sweet orange oil, garden repellent.

  • eaten raw
  • made into marmalade
  • Juice concentrate
  • Peel used in animal feed
  • garnish
  • Orange zest
  • Orange juice
  • Sweet orange oil
  • Garden repellent

The Orange Tree

The citrus tree is infertile including cultivars like lime, lemon and grape. The tree is evergreen and grow to an average height of 32 ft. They have good longevity and feature oval shaped leaves with crenulated margins.

The Orange Fruit

The fruits are either round or oblong has few seeds and loaded with juice. Unripe fruits are green, ripe ones are orange, yellow orange or bright orange in color. They thrive in different climates based on the citrus group.

Oranges in the citrus groups are Trifoliate, Bergamot, Bitter and Mandarin orange. The huge number of cultivars were developed from mandarin and pomelo.

The delicious taste is derived from ratio of acids and sugar compounds like ketones, alcohols, aldehydes attribute the aroma. The fruit is also a rich source of vitamin C and older trees tend to produce sweeter fruits.

Types of Orange

World commercial production of orange juice use four groups of fruit. Oranges account for 57% of citrus fruit juice production. Top fruits are citrus reticulate, sweet orange, Citrus sinensis.

We have the bitter orange Sevile, hybrid oranges and mandarin. Varieties include Harts Tardiff Valencia, Valencia, Hamlin, Jincheng, Homosassa and Clanor. Others are Castellana, Carvallana, Bali, Berna, Biondo Comune, Cadenera and Fukuhara

Types

  • Citrus reticulate
  • Sweet orange
  • Acid-less oranges
  • Citrus sinensis
  • Bitter orange Sevile
  • Navel oranges
  • Hybrid oranges
  • Mandarin

Varieties

  • Harts Tardiff Valencia
  • Valencia
  • Hamlin
  • Jincheng
  • Homosassa
  • Clanor
  • Castellana
  • Carvallana
  • Bali
  • Berna
  • Biondo Comune
  • Cadenera
  • Fukuhara

How to Grow Orange Trees from Seed

Seed grown oranges bare fruits in 10 to 15 year. They suffer from root rot and have short lifespan. The first step is to cut the fruit to extract the seeds. Then wash thoroughly and unpeel the seed and remove the membrane.

They grow in warm climate and require temperature of at least 60F. Sow the seeds 1 inch apart in a large pot with lower layer soil mix and upper layer sand. Place the pot in dark warm place for 12 days. Keep the soil moist until they germinate and transplant when the reach 12 inches tall.

To propagate the plant a farmer needs to develop a seed growing program. This is to get rootstock with similar genetic markers and characteristics. Grafting a mature tree is highly productive and reduces harvesting period to 3 years.

Steps to Grow Orange

  1. Cut the fruit to extract the seeds
  2. Wash thoroughly
  3. Unpeel the seed to remove the membrane
  4. Grow in warm climate
  5. Ideal temperature of 65F
  6. Sow the seeds 1 inch apart
  7. Use soil mix and upper layer sand
  8. Place the pot in dark warm place for 12 days
  9. Keep the soil moist till germination
  10. Transplant when they reach 12 inches tall.

Climate

The farmer needs to protect the trees from frost by spraying with water or use smudge pots to raise the air temperature. Best climate for growth is temperature from 60 to 80 F

Propagation

The most effective way to grow oranges is through propagation. Commercial plantations use propagation because trees grown from seeds might or might not bare fruits. The technique involves the use of a mature cultivar and asexual propagation via grafting.

The farmer selects a suitable seedling rootstock to pass on identical characteristics, disease resistance and yield. The method is executed in two stages. The farmer first grows the rootstock from a seed and tenders for an entire year.

Fertilizer

The amount of nitrogen and potassium in the fertilizer would determine the outcome of the fruit. Prune to shape the tree and remove, dying, damaged or smaller branches from the ground.

To prevent wilting provide 1 inch of water every week. They grow in different types of soil from intermediate mix, sandy, heavy clay loamy soil.

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Grading

Grading the produce is established by many countries. Grade requirements focus on orange texture, shape, size, color and firmness. Things that reduces value are discolorations and blemishes.

The fruit could have blemishes like creasing, decay underdeveloped segmentation. Injuries to avoid are green spots, scale, scars, protruding navels. Damages are caused by disease, insects, sunburn, dryness or foreign objects.

Grading Orange Parameters

  • Texture
  • Shape
  • Size
  • Color
  • Firmness
  • Discolorations
  • Blemishes
  • Damages

Commercial Orange Farm Harvesting

It is mandatory that the orange mature before harvesting. The fruits should be ripe with yellow-green, yellow color before picking. Sometimes the farmer deploys ethylene gas to degree or cure the fruits.

This is because oranges are non-climatic fruits and do not ripen internally in response to ethylene gas. The preferred method is canopy shaking or hand picking. The canopy shaking could be done using a shaking mechanism or canopy shaker machinery.

Storage

It is possible to store oranges for 2-4 weeks under ideal conditions. Storage requirements are refrigeration or shelving.

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