A number of years back, we featured the very fruitful Longkong trees of Mrs. Naty Abrigo in Calauan, Laguna. She had hundreds of trees heavily laden with fruits then. How did she do it?
By Zac B. Sarian
Well, the number one reason is adequate nutrition. The soil in Calauan is fairly rich but Mrs. Abrigo did not scrimp on feeding her trees. She applied a lot of organic fertilizers, particularly vermicompost and old chicken manure. In addition, she spread a lot of carbonized rice hull all over her plantation. Our expert friends tell us that carbonized rice hull (CRH) can lower the acidity of the soil. Also, it makes the soil more porous so the roots have better growth. More beneficial organisms thrive under such conditions, too.
Unfortunately, the fury of Typhoon Glenda last year ravaged her Longkong plantation. The fruitful trees are now gone. Of course, it was not only Longkong that was damaged. All her rambutan, durian, and other fruit crops met with the same fate. But the fighting lady did not give up. In the meantime, she planted thousands of hybrid papayas and the latest we heard about her is that she is about the biggest papaya supplier in Laguna today.
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In the last few years, we did not see as much fruiting from our Longkong trees as this year. If we may say say so, we had a bumper crop in 2015. And we are really convinced that if you pay attention to the nutrition of your trees, they will reward you with a lot of fruits.
In 2015, we had a prolonged drought from January to late May. But thanks to drip irrigation demonstrated by Greg delos Trinos, the trees were able to survive the dry months, although many of their leaves fell to the ground.
Our trees were well nourished for the 2015 fruiting because as early as December last year, we had spread around each tree about 30 kilos of organic fertilizer, particularly Durabloom and some from the Villar Sipag Foundation. The trees were also fertilized with complete fertilizer. And every two or three weeks, Power Grower Combo and Heavy Weight Tandem were sprayed on the leaves of our trees that are more than 10 years old.
When rains started to fall in late May, florets started to emerge. The Power Grower Combo, according to its inventor, Alfonso G. Puyat, makes old trees stronger for their eventual fruiting. In young plants, it enhances faster growth.
On the other hand, Heavy Weight Tandem, which is high in potassium, promotes flowering and higher fruit set. The fruits are more uniform and when they ripen, they are sweeter and juicier. Many people who have tasted our fruits will tell you that they are superb. One of them is Felix Yulo, who is now determined to plant not only Longkong but also Duku lanzones for the farm of the company that he works for.
Maybe, to mitigate the possibility of strong typhoons destroying our Longkong plantation, we should provide windbreaks to protect the trees. In sum, we can definitely achieve heavy fruiting of Longkong in the Philippines. The secret is adequate balanced nutrition for the trees.
This appeared in Agriculture Monthly’s November 2015 issue.