Mosambi Cultivation

Mosambi, also known as sweet lime, sweet lemon or sweet limetta, is a citrus fruit that is widely grown and consumed in India for its pulp and juice. Mosambi belongs to the family of Rutaceae and is a cross between the citron and a bitter orange. Mosambi is a small tree that can reach a height of up to 20 to 25 feet. It has irregular branches and relatively smooth, brownish-grey bark. It has numerous thorns, 15–75 mm long. The leaves are compound, with acuminate leaflets 6 to 17 cm long and 3 to 8 cm wide. The flowers are white with excellent fragrance. The fruits are oval and green, ripening to yellow, with greenish pulp. The pith is white and about 5 mm thick.

Mosambi is one of the most popular fruits in India and is the third largest fruit produced in the country. It is mainly cultivated in Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Punjab, Bihar, Assam, Mizoram and Jammu & Kashmir. Mosambi is rich in vitamin C, potassium, calcium and phosphorus. It has various health benefits such as improving digestion, immunity, hydration and skin health. Mosambi juice is also used as a remedy for colds and flu.

Propagation

Mosambi is propagated by budding on rootstocks of rough lemon or sour orange. Nursery-raised budded plants are transplanted in the main field after one year of growth. The best time for planting is from June to August or from February to March.

Land Preparation

The land should be ploughed thoroughly and levelled before planting. The soil should be well-drained and fertile with a pH of 6.5 to 7.5. A soil test should be done to determine the nutrient status and fertilizer requirement of the soil.

Planting

The planting distance depends on the variety, soil type and irrigation method. Generally, a spacing of 6 x 6 m or 7 x 7 m is followed for mosambi cultivation. Pits of 1 x 1 x 1 m size should be dug at the marked spots and filled with a mixture of topsoil, farmyard manure and superphosphate. The budded plants should be planted in the centre of the pits and staked for support. The plants should be watered immediately after planting.

Maintenance

Mosambi plants require regular irrigation, especially during summer and dry periods. The frequency and amount of irrigation depend on the soil type, climate and stage of growth. Drip irrigation is recommended for water conservation and efficient nutrient delivery. Mulching with organic materials such as straw, grass or leaves can help in retaining soil moisture and controlling weeds.

Mosambi plants need pruning to remove dead, diseased or damaged branches and to maintain a desired shape and size. Pruning should be done after harvesting or before flowering. Pruning also helps in improving light penetration and air circulation within the canopy.

Mosambi plants need adequate fertilization for optimal growth and yield. A balanced fertilizer containing nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) should be applied in split doses at different stages of growth. The following table shows the recommended fertilizer schedule for mosambi cultivation.

StageFertilizer (N:P:K)Amount (kg/plant/year)
First year10:10:100.5
Second year10:10:101
Third year10:10:102
Fourth year onwards20:10:103

The fertilizer should be applied in a circular trench around the plant at a distance of about 30 cm from the trunk. Organic manures such as farmyard manure, compost or vermicompost can also be applied along with chemical fertilizers to improve soil fertility and organic matter content.

Mosambi plants are susceptible to various pests and diseases that can affect their growth and yield. Some of the common pests are citrus leaf miner, citrus psylla, citrus blackfly, citrus thrips, citrus scale insects, fruit flies and mealybugs. Some of the common diseases are citrus canker, citrus greening, citrus scab, gummosis, root rot and anthracnose. Integrated pest management (IPM) practices such as cultural, mechanical, biological and chemical methods should be adopted to control pests and diseases.

Harvesting

Mosambi fruits take about six to eight months to mature after flowering. The fruits are harvested when they turn yellowish-green in colour and have a sweet taste. The fruits should be harvested carefully without damaging the peel or causing any injury to the fruit stalks. The fruits should be graded according to their size, colour and quality before packing and marketing.

Yield

The yield of mosambi depends on various factors such as variety, climate, soil type, irrigation method, fertilizer application, pest and disease management and pruning practices. Generally, a mosambi plant can yield about 50 to 100 kg of fruits per year after four years of planting. The average yield per hectare can range from 15 to 25 tonnes.

Post-Harvesting

Mosambi fruits have a short shelf life and are prone to spoilage due to fungal infections or mechanical injuries. Therefore, proper post-harvest handling is essential to maintain their quality and freshness. The fruits should be washed with clean water and dried with soft cloth or paper towels. The fruits should be treated with fungicides or wax coatings to prevent fungal growth and moisture loss. The fruits should be stored in cool and dry places away from direct sunlight or heat sources. The fruits can also be stored under refrigerated conditions at 5°C to 10°C for up to two weeks.

Mosambi fruits can be consumed fresh or processed into juice, squash, jam or candy. Mosambi juice is a popular beverage in India that can be enjoyed plain or mixed with other juices or spices. Mosambi juice has various health benefits such as boosting immunity, hydrating the body, improving digestion and skin health.

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