Rambutan (Nephelium lappaceum) is a medium-sized tropical tree growing to a height of 12–20 m. The leaves are alternate, 10–30 cm long, pinnate, with 3-11 leaflets, each leaflet 5–15 cm wide and 3-10 cm broad, with an entire margin. The flowers are small, 2.5–5 mm, apetalous, discoidal, and borne in erect terminal panicles 15–30 cm wide.

The fruit is a round to oval drupe 3–6 cm (rarely to 8 cm) tall and 3-4 cm broad, borne in a loose pendant cluster of 10-20 together. The leathery skin is reddish (rarely orange or yellow), and covered with fleshy pliable spines, hence the name rambutan, derived from the Malay word rambut which means hairs. The fruit flesh is translucent, whitish or very pale pink, with a sweet, mildly acidic flavour.

Rambutan is a popular garden fruit tree and propagated commercially in small orchards. It is one of the best known fruits of Southeast Asia and is also widely cultivated elsewhere in the tropics.

The fruit are usually sold fresh, used in making jams and jellies, or canned. Evergreen rambutan trees with their abundant coloured fruit make beautiful landscape specimens.

Preparation of Planting Materials

1. Select well-developed seeds from mature/ripe fruits of the recommended varieties/selection.
2. Remove mucilage from the seeds by rubbing them with fine sawdust, ash or old newspaper.
3. Germinate the seeds immediately after extraction in light loamy soils or in germination beds made up of sawdust.
4. Germinated seedlings should be ready for potting in 24 days after sowing or 10 days after germination in 15 cm x 20 cm perforated plastic bags containing garden soil and place them in nursery shed.
5. Water them immediately after planting in polyethylene bags. Then water every 2 to 3 days or as the need arises.
6. The rootstocks would be ready for asexual propagation in 8-12 months; then 6 months from grafting, it would be ready for field planting.

Rambutan Varieties

Plant only grafted rambutan from a superior variety. Among the superior varieties are from Thailand (Rongrein and gulahbato), Malaysia (R162 and R5), Singapore (Jitlee), Super Red, Malaysian Jade, Sakay Selection and some others. R5 is particularly superior in a number of ways. It was the first prize winner in the 1996 Fruit Search competition. It produces big fruits that are intense red, hence attractive to customers. The white flesh is thick, sweet, smooth in texture and separates readily from its seed.

Land Preparation

1. Clear/Underbrush and remove all stumps.
2. Plow and harrow thoroughly to loosen the soil.
3. Stake at a distance of 8-10 meters between hills and 8-10 meters between rows. Prepare holes 30 centimeters in diameter at a depth of 30 centimeters.

Planting

1. Remove the plastic bag and plant the seedling into the prepared hole without breaking the ball of soil.
2. Cover the hole with top soil and press gently.

Maintenance

1. Provide shade to the newly planted rambutan seedlings for a period of two weeks to a few months depending on weather condition to enable the plant to recover from transplanting shock and to shade it from strong sunlight.
2. Apply basally, 60 grams (6 tbsp) of complete fertilizer (14-14-14) or based on soil analysis and cover with thin layer of soil. The rate of application increases as the tree grows bigger.
3. Ring weed quarterly or as the need arise.

Fertilization Schedule

Fertilizer- Complete (14-14-14) 2nd Year- 200 gm/tree, 3rd Year- 300 gm/tree, 4th Year- 400 gm/tree

Harvesting

Harvest rambutan fruits when skin is pinkish red. Rambutan fruits do not ripen at the same time even within a bunch and this necessitates harvesting by priming.

Harvesting is done using secateurs or a long pole with a hook on one end. Avoid making damage to the branches while harvesting as these are the sources of next crop.

Harvesting schedules in a moderately-sized orchard (200-300 trees) are three times a week during the height of the season.

Storage and Packing

The fruits should be kept under shade. Fruits are graded based on size and degree of ripeness. Then they are washed and dried before packing. Fruits of good quality are selected and packed by placing them in a ventilated box or case of 60 cm x 28 cm x 28cm.

Products

Aside from eating its fresh fruit, Rambutan fruits can also be processed to products like jam, jellies, rambutan cocktail, rambutan sweets and canned rambutan. Rambutan sweets are used for pie (as raisin), ice cream and fruit ice. Sometimes arils are canned by stuffing with pineapple in heavy syrup.

Insect Pest, Diseases and their Control

Fruit Borer (Cacao Pod Borer)– Spray Decis, Gusacarb, Gusathion or Kafil
Mealy Bugs– Spray with Malathion, Roxion
Twig Borer– Prune infested twig and burn
Powdery Mildew– Spray with Fungitox, Benlate, Bayleton
Damping-off– Spray with Benlate
Leaf Spot– Spray with common fungicides

Source: da.gov.ph, wikipedia.org, fruitipedia.com

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