By Michelle Domocol
This November, fruit markets and fruit growers will offer seasonal treats like lansones, papaya, guyabano, atis, sambag, and mangosteen. When my family goes to the fruit market we search for the Longkong variety. It comes in compact clusters with super sweet and aromatic fruits (Photo 2, D). Longkong is a cross between other lansones varieties called Paete and Duku. This November, don’t forget to pick up your favorite varieties of some lansones or other in-season fruits.
In celebration of November’s seasonal treats, here are some fun facts and cultivation techniques that help lansones produce delicious fruits.
- Lansones are grown throughout Philippines’ orchards, farms and backyards. They are usually planted in November or other months during the rainy season. Since they thrive in high humidity and moist soil, farmers and gardeners, water lansones regularly during the dry season.
- To preserve the soil moisture, lansones growers add a layer of compost and mulch over their roots. Mulch (Photo 1) can be:
- A: dried banana pseudostem fibers,
- B: rice hulls,
- C: coco coir, or
- D: coconut husk chips
- Most farmers like to transfer lansones seedlings into the field. The seedlings transfer when they have a pair of mature leaves and a strong root system. Young lansones seedlings are planted with partial shade over their canopy. Lansones are commonly intercropped under mature coconuts since their fronds provide natural shade. Other shading companions are madre de cacao and ipil-ipil trees. Otherwise, you can shade seedlings with netting cages or mini pergolas made with banana fronds.
- Pruning is essential for fruit growth and pest reduction. Farmers and gardeners remove any unproductive side branches, watersprouts, dead branches and some top portions of the young tree. Watersprouts are thin, useless branches emerging from old bark. Pruning trains the branches to be aerated, well-spaced and lateral. When the top of the lansones canopy is partially removed, it keeps the height at 1 meter. This height is more accessible for harvesting.
- Lansones fruits appear in 7-inch long bunches (Photo 2, B & C). Depending on the variety they can be compact or loose bunches with up to 25 or more fruits. When it’s unripe, lansones skin is green (Photo 2, B). As it matures and approaches harvest time, lansones skin becomes thin, leathery and brownish-yellow (Photo 2, C-E).
- After planting lansones, you’ll have to wait for 15 to 20 years to see fruits (Photo 2, D). While farmers and gardeners wait, they usually harvest faster-growing trees and vegetables grown in between the lansones trees.
Wow 15 to 20 years! Lansones cultivation makes me appreciate the arduous journey growers and fruit seeds make. As you munch on your delectable fruits this month, I hope you feel inspired to thank a local fruit farmer or learn more about fruit cultivation.
Till next post, hope you have a fruitful, flavorful November.