“Keprokisasi”, meaning to plant more mandarin varieties, is one of the programs launched by the government to develop more mandarin varieties due to its high economy value and its potential to compete and substitute the imported citrus fruits. However, there are several obstacles in mandarin development, notably its long juvenile period that is longer than that of tangerines, about 4 year after planting. This is the main reason of farmers favor for tangerines which could bear fruits just after 2,5 year after planting.
One of the ways to cut short the juvenile period on mandarin is by using ‘branch bending’. With this method, farmers do not need to worry about the juvenile period since the mandarin varieties could bear fruits at relatively similar age with the tangerines and with high yield, about 20-25kg at the first harvest. This method has been used in Banaran Experimental Field to induce Mandarin Batu 55 plants producing fruit earlier.
The principal of the method is to create ‘disruption’ in branch by bending causing disturbance in xylem/phloem tissue which then enhances carbohydrate accumulation in leaves which in turn stimulates flower primordia and fruit formation.
Furthermore, the branch angle should be arranged so that it is wider than before which made the plant habitus become more ideal and the branch tends to grow horizontally. The ideal time to do bending is in the beginning of dry season when the plant expose to water stress. In this period, the new flushes do not emerge and the plant is a bit wilted which makes it easier to bend. No watering given to the plants in the period of 2-3 months after the treatment. Beside the treatment, the composition of fertilizer applied is also important since the plant growth switches from vegetative to generative.
The bending method is simple and does not require specific skill. In Banaran Experimental Field, it was showed that the juvenile phase could be reduced so that the plants produce fruits 1.5 year earlier. This means that about 37.5% of the total maintenance cost of young plants (not yet productive) could be saved (Ady Cahyono/tr:bq)