Rambutan (Nephelium lappaceum L.) is a tropical fruit tree, which belongs to the family Sapindaceae. The word rambutan is derived from the Malay word rambut meaning "hair"because of numerous hairy protuberances of the fruit.
It is a medium-sized tropical tree growing to a height of 12-20 meters. The fruit is round to oval drupe three to six centimeters, rarely eight centimeters tall and three to four centimeters broad, borne together in a loose pendant clusters of 10-20. The leathery skin is reddish (rarely orange or yellow), and covered with fleshy pliable spines. When these fruits are peeled open, a juicy white flesh with a delightful sweet taste, which clings to a woody seed, will be revealed. (source: Infopedia, Date accessed 26 March 2014)
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Rambutan tree can be propagated either by seeds or by asexual propagation. Asexually propagated plant materials can be sourced out from DA Research Outreach and Satellite Stations or from any accredited nursery operators in your locality.
Grafted planting material is preferred because it bears fruit earlier and becomes true-to-type. Planting materials propagated thru seeds have 25 percent chance to bear fruit.
In hilly areas, clean or underbrush the area and remove all stumps, while for flat areas, plow and harrow thoroughly to loosen the soil.
Stake at a distance of 8-10 meters between hills and 8-10 meters between rows. Prepare holes measuring 30 cm in diameter at a depth of 30 cm.
The ideal planting distance is 10 x 10 meters because the trees grow bigger using the square method of planting.
Once decided on the farming method and when the oyster spats have settled
The best time to plant is during the onset of rainy season. Planting any time of the year or during dry months is also possible, as long as the trees will be provided with adequate moisture and partial shade.
Apply organic fertilizer plus inorganic as basal fertilizer based on soil analysis and cover with thin layer of soil.
Water the plants and provide with partial shade. Carefully remove the plant material from its container and plant it in the hole, cover with top soil and press gently. Be sure that the potted plant should be set at about the same level as it stood in the nursery.
Water the plants and provide with partial shade
Care of Young and Bearing Trees
The general recommendation in the absence of soil analysis. Apply a kilogram of organic fertilizer per tree every two months for the first two years. On the third and fourth year, apply one or two kg of complete fertilizer per tree and a mixture of 300 g of muriate of potash.
Weeds compete with rambutan tree for soil nutrients, retard growth and increase labor. As such, practice ring weeding one meter radius from the base of the plant quarterly or as the need arises.
Rice hulls or grasses from the ringweeded tree can be use. Avoid materials that are alternate host of insects and hazardous to fire.
Irrigate young trees during the dry months.
Water is needed during the flowering period up to the fruit development to avoid flower abortion and fruitlet drops.
During its first four years, intercrop the plantation with leguminous and early maturing crops. This practice will provide additional income while the trees are still young.
Leguminous crops when plowed under, adds fertility to the soil and prevent weed growth.
Remove water sprouts below the graft union. During the first three years, dead and diseased twigs are likewise be pruned.
Insect Pests, Diseases and their Control
Regular monitoring is needed to determine the extent of insect damage and to know the appropriate control measures to be applied.
Care of Bearing Trees
The ideal and best fruiting trees to maintain are those low growing trees (about five meters tall) with spreading branches. To achieve this, prune the lead trunk thru center pruning.
The success of fruiting depends on the availability of water and fertilizer applied during the pre-conditioning of the tree up to the fruit development following the general recommendation.
During the pre-conditioning stage, apply organic fertilizer at the rate of 25 kg/tree just after ring weeding. Apply rice hulls as mulch after the application of organic fertilizer around the tree.
Apply inorganic fertilizer 1-2 months after pre-conditioning of the tree. Dilute 2-3 kilogram of complete (14-14-14) or ammonium phosphate (16-20-0) mix with 300g of muriate of potash in a container or plastic drum with mounted hose using fertilization method. The most simple way is to cut sturdy plastic tube about two feet long and position the tube in five strategic locations along the root hair zone, about one meter away from the base of the tree. Dig a hole and place the tube in slanting position. Pour the fertilizer mixture into the tube and the roots will absorb the fertilizers applied. This is done in preparation of the flower budstick.
At flowering stage, irrigate the trees to avoid flower abortion. Likewise, avoid any spraying during full blown so as not to kill pollinators.
During the fruitlet development, spray foliar fertilizer mix with insecticide and fungicides to prevent occurrence of pests and diseases. Irrigate the tree to avoid fruitlet drops. Apply second dose of muriate of potash diluted in water to enhance fruit enlargement and sweetness of the fruit. Repeat foliar spray ten days after the first foliar spray.
Diseased and dead trunks must be pruned. After the fruits are harvested, pruning is necessary to enhance the development of lateral fruiting branches
Harvest and Post-Harvest Practices
Rambutan fruits are ripe three and a half months or 14 weeks from fruit set. Harvest the fruits as soon as they are fully ripe or when the skin is pinkish red. Usually a bunch of rambutan fruits do not ripe at the same time, thus, requires harvesting by priming.
Harvest it with the use of shears or a long pole with a hook on one end. It is recommended to cut-off about four to five inches of the fruiting twigs.
Daily harvesting during peak season can be achieved in a moderately sized orchard (200-300 trees).