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Kagzi Lime – Acid Lime Farming
India is the 4th largest producer of lime and lemon in the world but the most popular citrus fruit consumed widely in india is the kagzi lime or the Acid lime. The lime which is used in cuisine and also consumed as juices is not lemon, though most people refer to it as Lemon. Kagzi lime or Acid lime is a bit more acidic and has a slightly more tangy taste than lemon which has a sweet tinge to it. Nevertheless, acid lime is one of the most sought after fruit in india for its wide range of usses. From pickles to Garnishing food and also to wash hands in restaurants, the Lime is a common ingredient which is a must have in homes and restaurants.
Lemon cultivation is best done in tropical and sub tropical weather conditions. Parts of india suitable for Lime cultivation includes Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhrapradesh, Telangana and Tamil Nadu. Other states are suitable in certain pockets but these are the major states which produce the maximum amount of Lime in india.
Lime is a crop which comes with a range of problems and pests. Apart from the diseases which are very common in lime plants and commonly in citrus varieties, the range of pests are also quite high. Controlling pests is crucial for farmers and determine their success. High rainfall, High humidity and flood prone areas are not suitable for lime farming. Also , lime requires that the temperature be high during the fruiting season. Water is required at least fortnightly dring the fruiting season which falls during the summer.
- Climate for Acid Lime Cultivation : Acid Lime thrives best in Semi Tropical or tropical weather. They prefer full summers and no forst. Temperature below 8 degree is not recommended and flowering happens best when summer is at its peak at 35 degrees to 40 degrees celsius. Rains and high humidity is not tolerated during flowering season and affects yield. Flooding in root area are causes for root diseases and should be avoided.
- Ideal Soil for Acid Lime Cultivation : Soil is not always a major concern for acid lime cultiation. From medium black to alluvial soil, sandy loam or partly clay soil are all tolerant for acid lime as long as there is sufficient drainage and no water logging. With that said, a PH of 6-7 is best suited for acid lime cultivation, just like most other citrus fruits.
- Varieties of Acid Lime : 5 common varieties of Lime are commercially cultivated in India and have a high demand. They are Vikram, PKM, Prumalini and Rasraj or Sharbati. Each of these varieties are cultivated depenting on the areas and climatic conditions. In the southern part of india, the Vikram, PKM and rasraj are commonly cultivated. In gujarat the common varieties are vikram, Purmalini, Sharati and PKM. uncommon varieties with high yield are balaji which is cultivated in Andhra pradesh and has a very high yield and the PDKV Varietiy which is only cultivated in maharashtra. Yield depends on the variety of the lime tree and could vary from 150-500 quintals per hectare.
- Propagation : Acid lime could be tricky when germinated from seed. They are not usually reliable and the best plants are either grafted or air layered. Air layering is common but most experts rely on grafting with a root stock which is tolerant to diseases. Grafted plants with a good rootstock has the ability to yield more , resist diseases related to root problems and sustain longer.
- Season : The season for planting Acid lime is just during the onset of monsoon. In most parts of india its around june to august. The rains will help with irrigation and the weather is perfect for growth of plant and its establishment. The right season to plant makes all the difference in the plants health and initial growth. Planting during the spring is often not recommended. Even with the best irrigation facilities, plants tend to do a bit poorly compared to those planted in monsoons.
- Land Preparation : Like all crops, Preparing the land for Lime cultivation is the first step and key to success. The land has to be ploughed, tilled and levelled . in Hilly areas, Terrace formation should be constructed. Plantation in hilly areas allow denser planting due to better aeration, but remember that the plants require the right weather conditions for Lime to grow. Summers should be sufficiently warm and frost is not permissible at all. Altitude is to be below 900m above sea level. Water drainage should be provided and depending on soil conditions irrigation should be provided. Flood irrigation is almost always not recommended. Drip irrigation is much more feasible, saves water and is more affordable.
- Intercropping : Intercropping in lime is not recommended and only legumes are feasible till the yield period. Cultivation of cow pea, moong and other legume crops can be done with proper care. Flood irrigation is not allowed and this limits the number of crops grown in between lime trees and the practice of cultivation also is complicated.
- Planting : Pits are dug 1meter By 1 Meter By 1 Meter (depth, width , length) and field with FYM, compost and let to sit for 2 weeks before planting . 15-20 Kg of farm yard manure with 500 grams of Rajphos or single super phosphate is applied to the pit. Its recommended that the fym sits in the pit for at least 2 weeks to ensure that all pests and bugs are off the pit and cannot damage the plants. After planting the saplings, ensure that the soil is a bit higher than ground level to prevent water logging.
- Spacing and Density : a distance of 6 Meter by 6 meter is recommended between plants to plants and row to row. Approximately 275 lime plants can be accommodate in 1 acre of land. The density of plants for lemon is 5 meter by 5 meter as opposed to lime and the total number of plants per acre of lemon is approximately 400.
- Irrigation : Irrigation is mandatory for good Lime production and the plant establishment. Irrigation should be minimal and frequent. The soil should be just damp on each irrigation and not flooded. Frequency of irrigation depends on weather conditions with summer irrigation being more frequent and almost daily. In other seasons the irrigation may be once in 2 to 3 days. Proper irrigation setup is mandatory and drip irrigation is the most recommended. Water should have low salinity levels and salinity over 1000ppm is often bad for lime plants. Water stagnation in the root area is to be avoided for root diseases and collar rot, which are very common problems in lime cultivations.
- Fertilizers : Application of fertlizers start during land preparation . Pits are filled with 15 to 20 KG Fym and 500 grams of SSP. Apart from FYM The basic fertilizers of NPK at the proportion of 100 Grams, 50 grams and 25 grams are applied respectively. Every year , the nitrogen is increased by 100 grams, Phosphorus by 50 grams and potash by 25 grams till the 5th year.From the 5th year, 500 grams of Nitrogen and 250 grams po potash and phosphorus is applied there after every year. The application of Zinc Sulphate, Manganese sulphate and Iron sulphate is also applied every year at 25 grams the first and second year, 50 grams the 3rd and 4th year, 100 grams from the 5th year and 150 grams from the 6th year onwards. Application of fertilizers should differ depending on the soil chemical contents. A soil test is recommended every year before application of fertilizers to make slight changes where required
- Pests : Pests and diseases in Lime plantation are one of the biggest challenges. The common pests in Lime is Leaf miner, Citrus black fly, Citrus Black fly, Citrus Psylla, citrus Thrips, Trunk Borer and Bark eating caterpillar. Pesticides are available in the market for each of these pests and application of pesticides in a timely manner is recommended once the pest is detected. Some of these pests are known to be fatal for plants and should be controlled as early as possible.
- Diseases : Citrus plants are sensitive to water logging and root rot and collor rot are common problems in citrus plants. Flooding should be avoided at all costs and drip irrigation should be practiced for successful commercial lime plantations. Other common diseases include powdery mildew, anthracnose, citrus canker Phytophthora gummosis, Citrus greening and citrus tristeza virus.Application of the right pesticides and control of pests should prevent most diseases
- Weed Control : Weed control is practiced to prevent pests and diseases. Proper management and weed control is mandatory for lime farms to keep the farm free from all pests and diseases. Manual weeding is often practiced in mature plantations and tracators can be used in younger plantations to reduce costs.
- Training and Pruning : Pruning lime trees are known to increase yield and also maintain the tree to the right shape and size. Trees are pruned to avoid branching out from 50 centemeter above ground. The trees are trained to branch upwards and all side branches are removed in intervals. A total of 8 branches are usually recommended in mature trees with sub branches regularly trimmed. Pruning allows more smaller branches, increase foliage , flowering and fruits, thus increasing yield
- Harvesting : Limes and lemons yield 2-3 times a year. The maturity of the fruit takes 120-150 days. Harvesting is done manually and when the fruits change color from green to yellow. Fruits which are partly yellow or turning to yellow are picked. Picking every 10-15 days is recommended for lime.
- Post harvesting : Post harvest processing depend on the market itself. The fruits are sold at the best price from late february to endof april. Fruits have a good shelf life of 6-8 weeks if stored in a temperature of 9 degree. Waxing treatment allows the fruits to stay fresh and reduce moisture loss. Investment in a cold storage unit may allow better profit for large scale farmers but is not feasible for smaller farmers.
Marketing, Profits, Yield and Cost of cultivation in Lime
While production is key for farmers, sales is important too. Certain key factors should be noted when cultivating lime.
- The fruits are seasonal and the best prices are received during peak summer. In most states, the prices go up to 10,000 rs per quintal during April. Normal prices could be anywhere between 20 Rs per kilo to 40 Rs per kilo. But there is a small span of time when the prices peak. Farmers should anticipate this period for better profit.
- Irrigation of plants during peak summer is key for better profit. Investing in a good drip irrigation system with sufficient water ensure that there is yield throughout the season.
- The right market makes the difference. Some markets may tend to lowball when it comes to price but others tend to pay nearly 30% more. Picking the right market and knowing the price is key to earning a good income. Transportation costs may just be a fraction if the total product is in high quantity.
For current mandi price and market information visit https://www.commodityonline.com/mandiprices/lime
In Agriculture, Yield is directly proportional to profit (at least most of the time). The more the yield, the better the chance of making a profit. But like most crops, variety is the key to making better yield. The right variety of the crop with the market acceptability will ensure the farmers profit almost always. If you choose a variety that has less acceptability in the market you are selling to, chances are you are going to find people not purchasing the product. For instance, in south india, Bullet variety of chillies are more preferred than the longer ones. We once cultivated long chillies and the yield was extremely good because the variety which we cultivated was of high yield. Unfortunately, we couldnt sell most of it because there was no market for it. Lime too has varieties and the right variety is key for sales. Selling assam Lemon in most parts of south india is not really an option because the acceptability is low.
While consumers may find it welcom, its the traders and the mandi’s which do not accept things which are new and we as farmers will need to depend on markets and mandis for large-scale production and sales. With that said, these are some of the key varieties, yield, and the markets they have good acceptability.
The PDKV Variety and especially the clone 2 in the DPKV variety is known to be one of the best yielding varieties of acid lime. The yield is 30% higher than the nearest in competition , the sai sharbati. The Chakradar variety is the seedless variety and though is not much in demand, has a good potential in the future.
Yield per acre of acid lime cultivation : with a good variety of plants, you can expect an average yield of 7 Tonnes of Acid lime per acre
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