By Zac B. Sarian
One of our visitors in our farm in Teresa, Rizal came all the way from Batac City in Ilocos Norte. For her, it was a most enjoyable experience to pick sweet and luscious rambutan. But she asked: “Will rambutan grow and bear fruit in Ilocos Norte?” If so, she would like to plant one or two trees in their spacious backyard. The soil is hard clay, according to her.
No big problem, we told her. What’s important is to give trees the loving care they need to grow and become fruitful. Best of all, since the trees would just be at spitting distance, so to speak, you can easily pamper your rambutan trees with what they need.
First of all, she should choose the variety that she liked most. She loved all the varieties she tasted but her favorite is the R-5, a prize-winning cultivar in a fruit search in the mid-90s. She likes the big red fruits that are so juicy. Of course, varieties like Super Red and Rongrein have their own desirable traits and like R-5, they are recommended not only for backyard planting, but also for commercial plantations.
Didn’t we say “pamper your tree”? Here’s how to do that. Plant the seedling in the open sun. If the soil is clayey, dig a hole one meter wide and one meter deep. Fill the hole with a mixture of 40% rice hull and 60% top soil. Add to the mixture five kilos of Durabloom organic fertilizer (that’s what we use in our farm). If Durabloom is not available, use vermicompost or some other organic fertilizer. Well decomposed chicken manure (at least 6 months old) will also do. Never use fresh chicken manure. You may also bury in four points five inches from the base of the seedling a total of 250 grams of complete fertilizer (14-14-14).
It is best to plant at the start of the rainy season in late May or early June. Always water the plant adequately. If sunshine is intense, provide partial shade like coconut fronds. After 10 days from planting, spray Power Grower Combo or Durabloom organic foliar fertilizer. Repeat this every 10 days. If there is pest infestation, spray with insecticide.
After one year, continue taking good care of your rambutan tree. Apply a kilo of organic fertilizer every three months. Apply also chemical fertilizer at 250 grams every three months. And don’t forget to spray with foliar fertilizer every 15 days. With this kind of pampering to your rambutan tree, we will not be surprised if it will start bearing luscious fruit three years after planting.
When your tree starts flowering, make sure there is adequate moisture in the soil. Fruit drop will occur if the soil is dry. Don’t apply nitrogenous fertilizers like urea because that is for nurturing leaves rather than fruits.
This appeared in Agriculture Monthly’s November 2019 issue.