Limes

jungleAlthough limes may not be what you would choose for an afternoon snack, we consider them as powerhouses when we want to bring out the flavor of other foods. Limes are oval or round in shape having a diameter of one to two inches with green flesh and skin. They can be either sour or sweet depending on the variety; Sour limes contain citric acid giving them an acidic and tart taste, while sweet limes lack citric acid and are sweeter in flavor.

Plantations International Limes are grown on trees that flourish in tropical and subtropical climates. They were thought to originate in Southeast Asia. Arab traders brought lime trees back from their journey to Asia and introduced them into Egypt and Northern Africa around the 10th century. The Arabian Moors brought them to Spain in the 13th century and then, like many fruits, they were spread throughout southern Europe during the Crusades.
Limes made their way to the New World with Columbus on his second voyage in 1493, and were subsequently planted in many Caribbean countries whose hot, humid climates supported the cultivation of this fruit. Centuries later, British explorers and traders, who were readily using the vitamin C-rich limes that grew in their West Indies colonies to prevent scurvy, earned the nickname “limey,” a word that is often still used colloquially for persons of British descent.

factoryInteresting Lime Facts:

  • Lime is small tree that usually grows to the height of 16 feet.
  • Lime has shrub-like appearance due to multiple, irregular branches with numerous short twigs. Some types of lime are spiny.
  • Lime has ovate leaves with entire margins. Leaves are glossy, light or dark green colored. They are alternately arranged on the branches.
  • Lime produces small, star-shaped, white or yellow flowers. They are often arranged in clusters. Flowers are fragrant.
  • Lime blooms and produces fruit all year round. In the northern hemisphere, lime produces greatest quantity of flowers and fruit from May to September.
  • Fruit of lime is oval or globular-shaped. It has small nipple on top of it. Fully ripe fruit is yellowish green colored.
  • Fruit is covered with thin peel. Transparent membrane divides greenish flesh into segments. Each segment contains hundreds of miniature sacs filled with juice. Fruit continues to ripen after the harvest.
  • Lime has tangy sour taste, more acidic compared to lemon. Sweet lime is a sort of lime that has sweet flavor. It grows in tropics.
  • Lime can be propagated via seed, cuttings and root sprouts.
  • Lime is rich source of dietary fibers and vitamin C. It contains 4 times less vitamin C than lemon.
  • Lime is used for the preparation of limeade, and various alcoholic and nonalcoholic cocktails and beverages. Lime juice and zest are often used for the preparation of marinades for meat (juice softens meat and improves flavor of cooked meals). Lime zest is ingredient of numerous pies. Pickled lime is integral part of Indian cuisine. Marmalade made of lime is popular in Australia. Lime leaves are consumed in South and East Asia.
  • Scurvy (disease that results from vitamin C deficiency) was widely spread among the sailors in the 19th century. Since lemon was expensive, lime was selected as second best natural cure for this disease. British sailors were obliged to consume one lime per day to prevent development of scurvy. Unusual diet is the reason they (British sailors) are known as “limeys” today.
  • Essential oils extracted from lime have application in the cosmetic industry for the production of fragrances. Citrus-rich aroma, typical for lime, is popular and often used in manufacture of cleansing products and in aromatherapy.
  • India is the greatest manufacturer of lime in the world.
  • Lime is perennial plant with a lifespan of over 10 years.

graphWorld Lime Market to Reach 79.1 Billion Tonnes in 2016

Global Lime Production has been increasing annually since 1980, with world production reaching 33.3 billion pounds in 2012, up almost threefold from 1980’s production of 11.3 billion pounds. By the end of 2016, Plantations International expects lime consumption to more than double from 2012 to 79.1 billion Tonnes, as reported by Global Research & Data Services.

Introduction to Lime Plantations

Climate Conditions

The sub-tropical climate is the best suited for citrus growth and development. Temperature below – 40C is harmful for the young plants. Soil temperature around 250C seems to be optimum for root growth. Dry and arid conditions coupled with well defined summer having low rainfall (ranging from 75cm to 250 cm) are most favourable for the growth of the crop. High humidity favours spread of many diseases. Frost is highly injurious. Hot wind during summer results in desiccation and drop of flowers and young fruits. Darjeeling Mandarin (Khasi Orange type) grows in altitude upto 2000m as it is adapted to a cooler climate.

Soil Preparation

Citrus can grow well in wide range of soils. Soil properties like soil reaction, soil fertility, drainage, free lime and salt concentrations, etc. are some important factors that determine the success of citrus plantation. Citrus fruits flourish well on light soils with a good drainage. Deep soils with pH range of 5.5 to 7.5 are considered good. However, they can grow in pH range of 4 to 9. Presence of calcium carbonate concentration within feeding zone may adversely affect the growth. Light loam or heavier but well drained sub-soils appears to be ideal for citrus.

Land Selection

Land needs to be ploughed , cross ploughed and levelled. In hilly areas, planting is done on terraces against the slopes. In such land, high density planting is possible as aerial space available is more than that in flat land.

Lime Tree Density & Spacings

In very light soils, spacing may be 4 m x 4 m. In fertile soils and in high rainfall areas spacing may be 5 m x 5m.

Planting Lime Trees

The best season of planting is June to August. Pits of the size of 60 cm x 60 cm x 60 cm may be dug for planting seedlings. 10 kg of FYM and 500 g of superphosphate may be applied per pit while planting. With good irrigation system, planting may be done in other months also.

Lime Tree Irrigation

Citrus requires life saving watering in the first year during winter and summer. Irrigation improves the plant growth, flowering and fruiting in citrus. It also reduces the fruit crops and increases the fruit size. Under unirrigated condition chances of damage to spring blossom is high and the next crop maturing in October-November may be heavier. Diseases like root rot and collar rot may occur under over irrigated condition and if the collar region is wetted. Light irrigation with high frequency is beneficial. Irrigation water containing more than 1000 ppm salts is injurious. Quantity of water and frequency of irrigation depends on the soil texture and growth stage. Partial drying out of the soil in spring season may be acceptable.

Manures and fertilisers

Citrus plants should be manured in three equal doses three times in a year in February, June and September. Depending on the soil , age and growth of plants, the dose varies.
The dose should increase every year proportionately to reach full quantity on the eighth year. Fertilisers are spread on the ground upto leaf drip and mixed with soil by light spading. Irrigation should be applied if there is moisture stress after application of fertilisers. One or two sprays of micro nutrient mixtures may be given.

Lime farming Interculture

Ploughing, spading of basins, weed control, etc., are important inter-culture operations for soil aeration and health. Chemical control of weeds with weedicides like grammaxone, simazine, diurone, terbsal, etc. may also be adopted.

Intercropping Lime Trees

Leguminous vegetables like cow peas, french bean, peas or any vegetables, etc., may be grown in citrus orchards. Intercropping is advisable only during the initial two to three years.

Trimming and Pruning Lime Trees

In order to allow the growth of a strong trunk, all shoots in the first 40-50 cm from ground level developed in the early stage should be removed. The centre of the plant should remain open. Branches should be well distributed to all sides. Cross twigs and water suckers are to be removed early. The bearing trees require little or no pruning. All diseased, injured and drooping branches and dead wood are to be removed periodically for initiating citrus greening.

Pests/Insects and Disease control Management

Pests : Important pests of citrus are citrus psylla, leaf miner, scale insects, orange shoot borer, fruit fly, fruit sucking moth, mites, etc. Other pests attacking citrus particularly mandarin orange, specially in humid climate are mealybug, nematode, etc. Control measures of major pests are indicated below:

1. Citrus psylla: Spraying of malathion – 0.05% or monocrotophos – 0.025% or
2. carbaryl – 0.1%
3. Leaf miner : Spraying of phosphomidon @ 1 ml or monocrotophos @ 1.5 ml. per litre 2 or 3 times fortnightly.
4. Scale insects: Spraying of parathion (0.03%) emulsion, dimethoate 150 ml and 250 ml kerosene oil in 100 litre of water or malathion@ 0.1 % or carbaryl @ 0.05% plus oil 1%
5. Orange shoot borer: Maintaining the orchard clean, spraying of methyl parathion @ 0.05% or endosulfan @ 0.05% or carbaryl @ 0.2% during egg laying season.

ALime Diseases

The main diseases of citrus/Lime are tristeza, citrus canker, gummosis , powdery mildew , anthracnose, etc. Control measures of these diseases are stated briefly below:

1. Tristeza: Control of aphids and use of cross protected seedlings are recommend ed.
2. Citrus canker: cutting of effected twigs followed by spraying of I% Bordeaux mixture or copper fungicide. Aqueous solution of 500 ppm, streptomycin sulphate is also effective.
3. Gummosis: Scraping of the effected area and application of Bordeaux mixture or copper oxiftuoride.
4. Powdery mildew: Dead twigs are to be pruned first. Wettable sulphur 2 g/litre, copper oxchloride – 3 g/litre of water may be sprayed in April and October.
carbendazym @1 g/litre or copper oxy chloride – 3 g/litre fortnightly.
5. Anthracnose: Dried twigs are pruned off first. This to be followed by two sprays of carbendazym @1 g/litre or copper oxy chloride – 3 g/litre fortnightly

Lime Harvesting

Mature limes are picked up in 2 – 3 cycles. There may be 2 or 3 crops in a year in summer, rainy season and autumn.

Lime Yields

Lime harvesting commences from the 2nd/3rd year with 50-60 fruits per tree. Stabilises in the 8th year. Average production is about 700 fruits per tree after stabilization and the lime tree will keep producing limes for around 25 years.

Post-Harvest Lime Management

Sweet orange and mandarin orange may be treated with etherel for degreening and development of colour. At low temperature below 250C low quantity of ethylene can set a change in colour. Pre-cooling of citrus is done by forced air system. Transit temperature for orange is I00C. The storage conditions for each group are stated below. Oranges may be packed in well ventilated CFB boxes – 30 cm x 30 cm x 30 cm. A mechanical citrus packing line for washing, sorting, size
grading, fungicidal treatment for orange and then packing in CFB boxes is also available.

Storage of Limes

Limes can be stored for 6-8 weeks at 9-100C storage temperature with 80-90% RH. Limes are subjected to pitting after storage at temperature below 70C. Waxing lime reduces moisture loss. MH treatment may increase shelf life of kagzi lime.

Marketing and Export Limes

Limes keep well for a long time under ambient conditions and hence can be transported to distant places for marketing. Limes are sold throughout Asia.

To find out more about how Plantations International can assist you with the development and management of your own lime plantation on your land and to receive a free initial consultation, please call us today on +852 5808 3775 or Click Here to contact your nearest Plantations International representative.