Lesson 36. Layout and Planting Methods
The layout of the orchard is a very important operation. Under this, the arrangement of fruit plants in the plot is carefully done to put the plants at a suitable distance for proper development and for accommodating the requisite number of plants per unit area in addition to improving the aesthetic look of the orchard. Hence, the factors which are considered important for proper layout of the orchard are (i) system of planting and (ii) planting distance of individual fruit species which again would provide the following advantages:
- Allow equidistance for each tree for uniform growth.
- Allow easy orchard operations like cultivation, intercropping, irrigation, spraying of plant protection chemicals and growth regulators, harvesting etc.
- Proper utilization of orchard space avoiding wastage of land.
- Help in proper supervision and management of the orchard.
- Aloe further extension of area from time to time so that subsequent planting would match with the existing orchard planting.
36.2 SYSTEM OF PLANTING
The system of planting to be adopted is selected after considering the slope of land, purpose of utilizing the orchard space, convenience etc. Generally, six systems of planting are recommended for fruit trees.
36.2.1 Square system
This system is considered to be the simplest of all the system and is adopted widely. In this system, the plot is divided into squares and trees are planted at the four corners of the square, in straight rows running at right angles. While laying out the plot a base line is first drawn parallel to the road, fence or adjacent orchard, at a distance equal to half the spacing to be given between the trees. Pegs are fixed on this line at the desired distances. At both ends of the base line right angles are drawn by following the simple carpenter’s 3, 4, 5 meters system. After the formation of three lines it is easy to fix all the other pegs to mark the tree locations in between the lines at the required spacing by using ropes connecting the pegs of the lines in opposite directions.
Under this system, intercultural operations, spraying, harvesting etc., can be done conveniently and easily. Planting of quick growing fruit trees like papaya, banana, guava during the early life of the orchard is possible. Rising of inter-crops like vegetables, ginger, turmeric, cumin, coriander and such other spices can be done conveniently cultivation and irrigation can be done in two directions.
36.2.2 Rectangular system
In this system, the plot is divided into rectangles instead of squares and trees are planted at the four corners of the rectangle in straight rows running at right angles. The same advantages which have been mentioned in the square system are also enjoyed here. The only difference is that in this system more plants can be accommodated in the row keeping more space between the rows.
36.2.3 Triangular system
In this system, trees are planted as in the square system but the plants in the 2nd , 4th, 6th and such other alternate rows are planted midway between the 1st, 3rd, 5th and such other alternate rows. This system has no special advantage over the square system except providing more open space for the trees and for intercrops. It is not only a difficult layout but cultivation also in the plots under this system becomes difficult.
36.2.4 Hexagonal system
In this system, the trees are planted at the corners of an equilateral triangle and thus, six trees from a hexagon with the seventh tree at the centre. This system is generally followed where the land is costly and very fertile with ample provision of irrigation water. Though 15 per cent more trees can be planted in a unit area by this method over the square system, fruit growers usually do not adopt it, as it is difficult to layout and cultivation in the plot cannot be done so easily as in the square system.
For laying out the plot, a base line is drawn in one side as in the square system. Then an equilateral triangle having rings at each corner and with sides equal to the length of the required distance is made of heavy wire or chain. Two of these rings are then placed on the stakes of the base line and the position of the third ring indicates the position of a tree in the second row. This row is then used as the base line and pegs are set in the third row. In this way entire plot is laid out.
36.2.5 Quincunx system
This system of planting fruit trees is similar to square system, except that a fifth tree is planted at the centre of each square. As a result the tree number in an unit area becomes almost double the number in the square system. The additional tree in the centre is known as “filler”. The fillers are usually quick growing, early maturing and erect type fruit trees like banana, papaya, pomegranate, etc., which are removed as soon as the main fruit trees planted at the corner of the square come into bearing. The planting of filler trees provides an additional income to the grower in the early life of the orchard.
36.2.6 Contour system
It is generally followed on the hills with high slopes. It particularly suits to a land with undulated topography, where there is greater danger of erosion and irrigation of the orchard is difficult. The main purpose of this system is to minimize land erosion and to conserve soil moisture so as to make the slope fit for growing fruits. So, the contour line is designed and graded in such a way that the flow of water in the irrigation channel becomes slow and thus finds time to penetrate into the soil without causing erosion.
36.3 Spacing of Fruit Trees
Provision of optimum spacing to fruit trees is one of the most important aspects of successful fruit culture. If the spacing is inadequate, the fruit trees will grow poorly, produce small quantity of fruits of inferior quality, and suffer from various diseases and insect pests. The cultural practices of the orchards are also greatly hindered. Weeds and grasses grow in abundance and rob off the vitality of the trees, resulting in their early decline and premature death. On the other hand, if the spacing is too wide, there will be wastage of valuable orchard land without having any direct benefit on the ultimate yield of the orchard. The optimum spacing is therefore, desired so that the fruit trees may grow and bear crops properly. The optimum spacing is one in which the tree on attaining its full size will not touch the branches of the neighbouring ones and the root-system of one tree must not encroach that of the adjoining tree. The spacing given to fruit trees is generally governed by the following factors:
- Climate and soil
- Growth habit
- Nature of irrigation
It is very difficult to suggest the exact spacing for fruit trees which will suit every locality or soil. However, the spacing given below for some of the important fruits may be considered as a safe guide for planting fruit orchards both in the hills and plains.