The Sapota (Achras Zapota L.) is a delicious fruit introduced from tropical America and first planted at Gholrad near Mumbai in 1898. It’s cultivation has spread to Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. It is evergreen, tropical fruit tree, spreading habit and lives longer upto 100 years.
The Sapota when fully ripe is delicious and is eaten as dessert fruit. The pulp is sweet and melting. Besides food values the Sapota fruits are also used in some auverda preparations.
The Sapota is a tropical fruit crop and can be grown from Sea level upto 1200 m. height. It prefers a warm and humid weather and grows in both dry and humid areas. Areas with an annual rainfall of 125-250 cm are highly suitable. The optimum temperatures ranges between 12 deg.cent. to 36 deg.Cent.
- SOIL REQUIREMENT
The Sapota tree is a hardy perennial and evergreen tree and can be grown on a wide range of soils. Drainage is most important. There should not be a hard pan in the sub-soil. Deep and porous soils make a good growth. The Sapota can tolerate the presence of salts in the soil or in irrigation water to some extent.
The important and widely adopted varieties are Kali Patli and Cricket Ball (Calcutta Large). The other varieties are, pili patti, Bangalore, Baramati, Dwarapudi, Chhatri, etc.
The Sapota can be propagated by seeds by grafting or by layering. However, commercially followed method is softwood grafting on rayan seedlings. This method has replaced the earlier method called as approach grafting. The Sapato when grafted on rayon has initially slow growth but the tree lasts longer. The layered plants grow vigorously and the method is cheaper as no root stock is required.
- PLANTING AND SEASON
The planting of grafts is done from June to October, for which pits of 1x1x1 m at the distance of 8 x 8 or 9 x 9 or 10 x 10 m are dug well before the onset of monsoon. The pits are filled in with a well decomposed manure, 5:10:5 mixture, single super phosphate, neem cake and a mixture of micronutrients. Hundred to 120 plants are accommodated in a hectare.
The Sapota has a long pre-bearing age and a wider spacing allows enough interspace for growing certain crops for few seasons. The short duration fruit crops like banana, papaya, pineapple or vegetables, different types of lillies or groundnut, chilli, gram,etc. are suitably grown for some seasons. Frequent weeding or mulching is necessary for first few years.
- CARE OF YOUNG ORCHARD
A strong windbreak should be established by planting tall and thick growing trees on the windward or on all the sides of the orchard. Frequent removal of outgrowth on the stock is necessary in grafting plants. Gap filling and supporting with bamboo is to be done as early as possible. Young plants are likely to damaged due to the scorching sun, dry and hot wind and frost. Necessary protective are adopted.
- SPECIAL HORTICULTURAL PRACTICES
Training and pruning :
In Sapota, a strong central stem is necessary. The Sapota, in general, has a well balanced distribution of branches and the crown assumes a uniform shape. There is no neccessity of pruning every year. All the growths those appear on the rootstock below the graft joint must be removed. After ¾ years of planting, the lowermost branches upto a height of 1 m may be removed. Similarly, overshaded and crowded branches are also removed. In Sapota, new growth and flowering occur simultaneously and it has a mixed type of bearing habit. Flowers and fruits appear in the leaf axils in the new growth and hence pruning of branches should not be done.
Though Sapota can tolerate drought conditions to some extent, yet it responds well to irrigation. As the tree is perennial, evergreen and almost growing cum fruiting stage every year, irrigation – whenever is necessary must be provided.
For healthy growth and good quality fruits manures are fertilizers should be applied regularly. The trees should be fertilized twice in a year during June and January. A well grown tree should be supplied with 100 kg FYM, 10 kg Biomeal 2.5 kg, 5:10:5; 1 kg ormichem or any other micronutrient mixture. The foliar sprays of NpK, Mg & Zn are useful to increase the fruitset and improve the size of fruit. Nitrophoska 8:12:24:4 at the rate of 100 gm/tree has proved beneficial. Nutritional trial at Ganeshkhind, Pune it was observed that, the use of vermicompost alone and supported with foliar sprays of biocil and biok, a bumber harvest was achieved at 3rdyear of application.
- PLANT PROTECTION
The Sapota crop is affected by insect pests and diseases and also by some disorders.
The important insect pests are as –
- Stem borer
- Scale insects
- Leaf webber
- Mealy bug.
- Leaf minor
- Bud eating caterpillar
- Barkeating caterpillar and
- Fruit borer.
- Leaf spot
- Sooty mould and
- Flatenned branches.
The suitable control measures are adopted. Clean and well nourished orchard is affected less. Caryaryl, Malathion, Dimithods, Bavistin, Kuman.L,etc. should be sprayed alternatively apart from following clean cultivation.
- HARVESTING AND YIELD
Sapota is a climacteric fruit and it improves in quality after harvesting but immature fruits should never be harvested. A well grown and well nourished Sapota tree yields 2500 to 3000 fruits weighing about 150 kg every year, for 50 to 60 years during its productive age.
- POST HARVEST HANDLING
Well matured fruits ripen within 3/5 days after harvest and can be stored for 10-12 days in 12 deg.Cent.temperature. Graded fruits are packed in boxes and then transported to distant markets. For local markets, the fruits are washed in water and carried in baskets or gunny bags.