Citrus is native to a large area. There are some popular species of citrus group known as Kagzi lime (Citrus aurantifolia), Grapefruit (Citrus paradisi) andPummelo (Citrus grandis), Sweet orange (Citrus sinensis), Mandarin (Citrus reticulata).
In India, citrus is the third largest fruit industry after Banana and Mango. In India, Citrus fruits are successfully grown in Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Uttarakhand, Bihar, Assam, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and other states. These are the most common fruits in India and have become popular because of their availability almost throughout the year at moderate prices.
Among the citrus group, Kagzi lime is one of the most important horticultural crops in India. Kagzi lime (Pati lime, Spur lime, Acid lime, Mexican lime) in Hindi is known as ‘Neebu or Nimbu’, whereas in Gujarati, it is known as ‘limbu’, which belongs to family Rutaceae.
Lime (Citrus aurantifolia) is the most important fruit crop in India as the demand for its consumption is very high due to the nutritional value and its availability at cheap prices. Lime is popular for its beautiful appearance and pleasing flavour and for its excellent food qualities. Lime does not edible in same manner as the other Citrus species.
Dietary, Medicinal and Industrial Uses of lime:
- Lime juice (nimbu sharbat) is most common and economical refreshing drink, which is considered as best source of vitamin-C.
- It is an un-detachable part of our daily salad dish as used to garnish different foods.
- Lime is a good source of Vitamin- C (62.9 mg/100 ml), Vitamin- B1, Vitamin- B2 and minerals like Calcium (90 mg /100 ml), Phosphorus (20 mg/100 ml) and Iron (0.3 mg/100 ml).
- It is also used for preparing beverages such as limeade and lime Rickey.
- Huge range of important products made from lime viz., lime juice, lime cordial, lime oil, calcium citrate, dried or dehydrated lime peel, lime powder and pickle, jams, jellies, marmalades, flavouring jams and alcoholic/ non-alcoholic drinks.
- It is a good source of edible citric acid and essential ingredient of almost all the herbal cosmetics.
- Dried lime feed powder and lime sediment obtained when lime juice is clarified, are utilized for cleaning metal ware.
Soil & Climate requirement for lime cultivation:
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.
Frost & strong winds free, tropical to sub-tropical climate. Do well in Dry climate. In high rainfall areas, it is susceptible to bacterial canker. 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 yielding cultivars:
Kagzi lime, Vikram (Ms), Pramalini (Ms), Chakradari, PKM1, Selection 49, Seedless lime, Tahiti
Propagation of lime:
Acid lime can be propagated by seed, budding or air layer. Since it is highly polyembryonic, seedlings are true to type and resistant to diseases. Propagation by seedling is recommended.
Raising of seedlings of Lime:
Freshly extracted seeds are shown on well prepared nursery bed at the distance of 15 x 5 cm and 1.5 to 2cm deep. Germination completes within 3 weeks. The sexual seedlings, which are usually stunted and poor in growth compared to apogamic or nuclear seedlings, are uprooted carefully.
Removal of sexual seedlings is essential because they do not breed true to type. The apogamic seedlings are identical to the parent in growth and production.
Seedlings are ready for transplanting 6 to 9 months after sowing. However, usually one year old seedlings are preferred for transplanting. Seeds are sown in seedbed during July- August.
Transplanting of Lime plants:
One year old seedling transplanted in another bed at 30 x 15 cm. After one year they planted in the field. Weak seedlings should be avoided.
Planting of Lime plants:
Pits of 60 x 60 x 60 cm. dug & filled with 25 kg FYM + 1.5 kg SSP + 2 kg castor cake +50 g BHC + soil. Planting should be done at 6 x 6 m. in monsoon.
According to recommendation of Anand Agricultural University (AAU), Anand, planting of seedling should be done at 4.5 x 4.5 m, which increased production around double than at regular spacing.
Fertilizer dose recommendation:
|Age of plant (year)||Amount of fertilizer per plant|
|FYM(in Kg)||N(in gm)||P(in gm)||K(in gm)|
|5 & more||50||900||750||500|
Time of fertilizer application Lime orchid:
Give full quantity of FYM, half of N, full of P and half of K fertilizer at ending of monsoon. And remaining fertilizer should be applied in the month of march – april. Also apply 500 grams Zinc sulphate and 500 grams Ferrous sulphate in 100 liters of water to avoid yellowing of leaves at the time of emergence of new leaves.
Irrigation in Lime:
Irrigate with regular irrigation with less day interval due to Shallow rooted crop viz., 4-6 days in monsoon, 10 days in winter and 7-8 days in summer. According to recommendation of Anand Agricultural University, Anand farmer can use drip irrigation system too, which could be saved water up to 63 %.
Inter cropping in Lime:
During first 2 to 3 years of planting, one can take intercrops like brinjal, chilli, cauliflower, onion, guar etc according to region.
- Weeding & hand digging.
- Protection against winds & frost.
- Pasting Bordeaux Paste (1:1:10) on the trunk to avoid gummosis & sun burn.
- Apply 2 sprays of 2 % urea with 20 ppm NAA to stop falling down of immature fruits.
- Remove water shoots & dead woods.
- No pruning to bearing trees.
Fruiting and Fruiting in Lime:
Three different seasons of flowering viz., jan-feb., may-june and October. Fruiting starts after 3rd year of planting and fruit takes 6 months to be mature.
Harvesting of Lime:
The fruits become mature in six months after flowering. In Gujarat, about 60 per cent of the total crop is harvested during July to September, 30 percent from October to January and 10 per cent from February to May.In north India, the main harvesting season is in the months of August-September. Greenish yellow fruits picked by hook and total 6-8 pickings/season.
Maturity Indices of lime:
Unlike some other fruits, citrus fruits do not ripen further once they have been removed from the tree, so it is important that they are picked at the right stage of maturity. Maturity is measured depending on different characteristics such as color, juice content, level of soluble solid (sugar) and solids to acid ratio. Normally, citrus fruits are harvested by hand.
Yield of Lime crop:
A tree gives production of 1000 to1200 fruits & maximum 3000-6000 fruits, (50-70 kg). Packing should be done with proper handle in gunny bags or boxes.
Economic life of Lime plantation: 15 to 20 years
Fruit handling to avoid postharvest losses:
Don’t pick cold wet fruit and turgid fruit. Wear gloves while picking the fruits. Take care when handling and transporting fruit around the orchard, Treat fruit with a fungicide within 24 hours of harvest, Remove old/rejected fruit from around packing sheds, Ensure bins and packing lines are regularly cleaned and free of abrasive surfaces.
Cleaning of fruits:
Removes soil, disease spores and surface spray residues. Water should be clean and free of disease spores. Use sanitizers to kill free floating spores. Monitor pH and temperature of water.
Waxing of fruits:
Waxing is used to improve the appearance of fruit, protect the fruit surface, slow down the development of some rind disorders and most importantly reduce water loss from the fruit. Waxes used on fruit should be suitable for human consumption. There are several different wax formulations used including: Carnauba (anatural wax extracted from palm leaves); shellac based waxes; polyethylene based waxes and resin based waxes.
Drying of lime fruits:
After waxing, fruit are dried by running high velocities of air across the fruit. It takes between 2-3 minutes to dry the wax. Cool or warm air is used to dry fruit depending on conditions.
Sorting of lime fruits:
Fruit are sorted on the packing line to remove damaged fruit and to grade fruit according to market specifications. Sorting can be done by hand or by using electronic sorting equipment in the packing line. Sorters also need to be provided with good information on which fruit need to be removed/culled.
Grading of fruits:
Grades of citrus are based on Firmness, Cleanliness, Size, Colour, weight, Shape, Free from pests and diseases
Packing of fruits:
Fruit can be packed either as ”loose fill ” or pattern packed depending on the market being targeted. Pattern packing can be either ”open pocket” or ‘ ‘closed pocket”. Fruit are normally packed in either a 30 or 15 litre cardboard cartons. Each package of fruit should be graded to have a similar size, shape, colour and condition (blemish level).
Storing lime fruits:
Citrus are nonclimacteric fruit and have low respiration rates. They are therefore able to be stored for long periods of time. In contrast to other citrus varieties there are significant changes in the internal quality of lime fruit during storage.
During storage the percentage of juice increases (by up to16 %) primarily due to the water stored in the peel. The acid content of fruit also increases (by up to 24%) during storage and the peel colour changes from green to yellow.
Citrus are sensitive to cold temperatures and should not be stored at temperatures below 10 C as they develop chilling injury. The length of time line can be stored depends on the stage that they are picked.
Fruit harvested with a yellow tinge can be stored for a few weeks, silver-green fruit 6 weeks, light green fruit 2 months and dark green fruit 5-6 months.
Value added products from Kagzi lime :
Fruit beverages unfermented beverages fruit juices which do not undergo alcoholic fermentation are termed as unfermented beverages. They include natural and sweetened juices, nectar, cordial, squash, crush, syrup, fruit juice concentrate and fruit juice powder.
It is containing at least 25 per cent fruit juice or pulp and 40 to 50 per cent total soluble solids, commercially. It would contain about 1.0 per cent acid and 350 ppm sulphur dioxide or 600 ppm sodium benzoate. It is diluted before serving.
Jam is a product made by boiling fruit pulp with sufficient amount of sugar to a reasonably thick consistency, firm enough to hold the fruit tissues in position.
A jelly is a semi-solid product prepared by boiling a clear, strained solution of pectin-containing fruit extract, free from pulp, after the addition of sugar and acid. A perfect jelly should be transparent, well-set, but not too stiff, and should have the original flavour of the fruit. It should be of attractive colour and keep its shape when removed from the mould. It should be firm enough to retain a sharp edge but tender enough to quiver when pressed.
The method of preparation is practically the same as that for jelly marmalade. In this case the pectin extract of fruit is not clarified and the whole pulp is used. Sugar is added according to the weight of fruit, generally in the proportion of 1:1. The pulp-sugar mixture is cooked till the TSS content reaches 65 per cent.
It is used to make pickle like pure pickle, mix vegetable pickle etc.
Marketing and Export of Lime:
Lime keep well for a long time under ambient conditions and hence can be transported to distant places for marketing. Also fruits are sold throughout the country due to availability and need. Several fruit processing units also purchase lime fruits in bulk.
They are exported to France, UK, Belgium, Indonesia, Netherland, SriLanka, Bangladesh and many other countries. So this crop has wide opportunities.