Citrus Nursery Establishment and Management
The demand for citrus plant material in the Cordilleras has boomed in the last 5 years. Because of this demand, some farmers who have started their small-scale nurseries have realized the economic potential of commercial citrus nursery. This realization has encouraged growers into expanding to commercial-scale nurseries without taking the necessary precautions. Reckless management will surely shorten the life of the nursery and may even result in big investment losses.
This farm primer aims to provide the information necessary for growers to provide a continuous supply of clean citrus plant materials (particularly from greening and citrus tristeza virus disease) and make nursery business a profitable enterprise.
How to Select the Nursery Site?
Consider the following guidelines in selecting a nursery site:
· Select a well drained, wind/dust protected area or if possible, with new or fumigated soil.
· The site must not be lower than surrounding orchards and sources of contamination. It should also have a slight fall or slant for drainage to avoid flooding. Plant grass around the site to help water drainage after rain.
· Plant windbreaks where wind velocity is strong but avoid shading. A site that receives sunlight for at least 8 hours a day is ideal.
· Isolate the nursery for citrus plantings especially diseased trees to protect the seedlings from possible contamination. Isolation could met either by rearing seedlings inside net houses or locating the nursery at least 2 km from any citrus plants or plantations.
What Facilities and Structures are Necessary for a Citrus Nursery?
1. Suitable office
2. Net House
3. Shaded area for sowing
4. Storage area for the growing medium, fertilizers, and pesticides; the area can double as a potting shed
5. Fumigation area/bins
6. Water system (deep wee/water tank and pipelines/outlets)
7. Compost pit
8. Fence. Fence the site to discourage intruders and/or protect it from stray animals that may damage the nursery or bring in pathogens (disease-causing organisms)
Like any business, the physical features of a nursery operation must be planned systematically.
· Develop a plan for the area and project the series of operations.
· Subdivide the lot into different dimensions depending upon target structures.
· Layout the potting shed, net houses, and other structures for efficiency and convenience of staff.
· Position the structures, particularly net houses, to ensure that tree rows run north-to-south so that each seedling receives as much sunlight as possible.
· For bigger net houses, ensure a good aeration to prevent the proliferation of fungal pathogens. Thus, keep the length of net houses to a maximum of 30 meters.