Sapota is an important fruit which can be successfully grown in the sub-mountainous parts of Punjab. Sapota trees are ever green with spreading canopy and have long productive life. The pulp is sweet and melting. It is a good source of digestible sugar and has appreciable amounts of protein, fat, fiber and minerals like calcium,phosphorus and iron.
Climate and Soil
The climatic conditions of the sub-mountainous Punjab are suitable for the growth and fruiting of sapota. Sapota is a tropical fruit crop where it flowers and fruits through out the year and when it is grown under subtropical conditions of Punjab it gives only one commercial crop. It prefers warm and humid conditions. The sapota is a hardy, perennial and evergreen tree. It can be grown on a wide range of soils. The soil should be deep, well drained and there should be no hard pan in the sub-soil.
Kalipatti (2011) : It is high yielding table variety having dark green, broad and thick leaves. Branches are of spreading type. Fruits are oval shaped with sweet, mellow flesh of excellent quality. Fruits are born singly and contain 1-4 seeds per fruit. Average fruit yield is 166 Kg/ tree.
Cricket Ball (2011) : Trees of this variety have less dense branches. The fruit are large in size, round in shape and have 3-5 seeds per fruit. Pulp is gritty, granular with excellent taste and flavor. It.It is a shy bearer when grown singly but gives good performance when planted with Kalipatti. Average fruit yield is 157 kg/tree.
Veneer grafting is a commercial method of its propogation. Khirniis the best rootstock producing vigorous plants with high productivity.The rootstock seedlings are raised in pots or beds. Seedlings of pencil thickness are suitable for veneer grafting. The plants become ready for sale within one year after grafting.
Sapota being evergreen fruit plant can be planted during February March and August-October in the pits (1mx1mx1m) prepared about a month earlier. The planting should be done at 9mx9m meter spacing.
Manures and Fertilizers
Age of Farmyard Dose per tree (g) tree manure Urea Superphosphate Muriate of Potash(kg / tree)1-3 25 220-660 300-900 75-2504-6 50 880-1300 1240-1860 340-5007-9 75 1550-2000 2200-2800 600-77010 & above 100 2200 3100 850 Farmyard manure, Phosphorus and Potassium should be applied in the month of December-January. Half of Nitrogen should be applied in the month of March and remaining half in July-August.
Sapota can bear drought conditions up to some extent, but for commercial production it requires assured irrigation. Sapota requires irrigation at 30 days interval in winter and 10-12 days interval in summer. At flowering time frequent irrigation should be applied to maintain humid conditions in the orchard for better fruit set. Young plants should be watered regularly at 6-8 days interval during hot dry summer season, and as per need during rainy and winter seasons.
Sapota is a slow growing plant and takes about 7-8 years to come into commercial bearing. Besides, there is sufficient space in the orchard to grow inter crops during pre-fruiting years. The type of inter crop depends upon the soil, climate as well as the marketing facilities. Pulses and vegetables should be preferred as inter crops. Quick. Quick growing fruit plants such as Peach, Plum, Kinnow, Guava,Phalsa, etc. can be also be inter-planted in sapota orchard as filler plants. Seprate arrangement should be made for irrigation and fertilization of inter crops/ inter plants.
Fruit Maturity and Harvesting
Sapota fruit is climacteric in nature and should be picked when properly mature. It takes about 10 months from fruit set to maturity.Maturity is judged on the basis of ease with which the brown scurf gets off the fruits surface and development of yellowish tinge inter mixed with corky-brown color on the surface of the fruits. At this stage, no green tissue and milky latex are seen on the fruits when scratched with nails. Properly developed fruits have high TSS and sugars, and reduced acidity, astringency and latex. The fruits should be hand-picked. Harvested fruits should be cleaned of latex and scurf by washing in clean water or by rubbing with gunny bags.Uniform ripening of fruits can be achieved by dip treatment with Ethephon (1000 ppm) for two minutes. The fruits should be graded on the basis of size as big, medium and small. Fruits should bepacked in Corrugated Fiber Board boxes of 10 kg capacity with rice straw or paper strips as padding material.