Loquat fruit is very beneficial for health and have medicinal properties. It is normally available when other fruits are not abundantly present in the markets. Loquat has high in sugar content that’s why use in fruit cups, fruit salads and mix with other fruits. Also use commonly in jelly, jam and chutney. Due to its sweetness often used in pastry. The flowers used to cure asthma and reduce breast pain, the leaves used in cough syrups when mixed with honey. loquats are famous to control vomiting. During the Yuan and Ming dynasties), the loquat was considered as a ‘second category foodstuff’ and when transport packed on ice to the royal family. And used by the Emperor and other royals as ‘Fourth Moon Seasonal Offerings.’ The Royals placed them on alters in their temples. Botanical name of loquat is Eriobotrya japonica and belong to the family Rosaceae. Native to China. It is also present in Japan, Korea, India’s hilly regions, Northern Areas of Pakistan, Northern part of the Philippines, and hilly regions in Sri Lanka, Georgia, Afghanistan, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bermuda, Chile, Kenya, India, Iran, Iraq, South Africa, the whole Mediterranean Basin, New Zealand, Tonga, Central America, Mexico, South America and in warmer parts of the United States (Hawaii, California, Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina). As the minor fruit in Pakistan. In Pakistan loquat found in Lahore, Gujranwala, Jhelum, Rawalpindi, Kalar Kahar, Hazara, Mardan, Choa Saiden Shah, Chhattar, Tret, Hasan Abdal, Wah, Hari Pur and Takht Bhai. Its waste is 30% due to its seed size. Loquat fruit is also being used in fruit wine, light wine, crystal sugar and white liquor. A beverage made from dried leaves of loquat known as Biwa cha that is beneficial to beautify skin, cure the inflammatory skin and to cure the chronic respiratory system. Loquat syrup is used in Chinese medicine for soothing the throat and is a popular ingredient for the cough drop. Eating in a quantity that induces sleeping effect lasting up to 24 hours. Protect from colon cancer. Improve eye vision. Strengthen bones and teeth. Improve skin health. Prevent the kidney disorder. Useful in infectious diarrhea. Reduce blood cholesterol levels. Loquat depresses the blood pressure. Loquat tea is a means of preventing or treating diabetes and lowers the risk of cancer. Soothes respiratory system. Boosts the immunity level in the body. Pectin is a dietary fibre found in system in the human body. Protect from lungs and oral cavity cancer because it contains high amount of anti-oxidant Vitamin A. A smart and effortless way to reduce hunger pangs is to eat some loquats. They are very light because of which you will never feel bloated. With the assistance of this fruit, you will be able to control you eat habits and restrain yourself from over eating during meals. It is rich in Vitamin C that boosts the body ability to absorb iron. Loquat fruit is lower in calorie. It includes a great deal of dietary fibres. Higher fibre rich diet controls urge for food as well as improve metabolic process. Tree size is equal to the size of guava tree. Planted as an ornamental plant in South Australia. Spain is the main producer of loquat. It is evergreen tree or shrub mostly grown for its edible fruit and the fruit colour is yellowish. Also called Chinese plum and Japanese plum. In Japan loquats are cultivated 1000 years ago. Loquat was often mentioned in ancient Chinese literature. Have a rounded crown and woolly twigs. 3-4 m tall. Leaves are dark, simple and leathery texture. In early winter and autumn flowers are appear. In early spring and early summer fruit is ripen. The flowers have a sweet, heady aroma that can be smelled from a distance. Small, white, with five petals, sweetly fragrant flowers are borne in fall or early winter in panicles at the ends of the branches. Growing in a cluster form, rounded, oval and pear shaped. Skin colour is red-blushed, orange and yellow. Each fruit having one to ten ovules in which three to five being most common. A large brown Seed is made up of variable number of mature ovules. When fruit is soft it is sweetest, and flavour is a mixture of peach, citrus and mild mango. Some cultivars are used for home gardening where the flowers open gradually, and fruit ripen slowly. And in the commercially grown cultivars flowers open simultaneously and whole tree are ripening together. Loquat is adapted to a sub-tropical to temperate climate. Grow best on light sandy to heavy clay loam also on limestone soil. Require good drainage. As a result, it encourages healthy weight reduction. Its can be grown on variety of soil. Both flower and fruit are killed when the temperature is below 27. Mature in winter month and bloom in late fall or early winter. Control the cholesterol level in those who use loquat fruit and tea. Loquat fruit strengthens the bone that is the major problem. Regulate. There are so many varieties of loquat with different harvesting times are; Early varieties: Golden yellow, pale yellow, large round and thames pride. Mid-season varieties: Large agra, matchless, safeda and fire ball. Late varieties: Tanaka and California advance. Some cultivars of loquat are self-infertile, and some are partially self-fertile. Thinning or clipping off all or parts of flowers and fruits enhance the fruit size. To eliminate sunburn and damaging from bird the clusters are bagged to obtain high quality fruit. Cluster thinning in heavy production years also develop alternate bearing pattern in loquat. The loquat is low in saturated fat and sodium, and is high in vitamin A, dietary fibres, potassium, and manganese. Loquats are wind tolerant and grow best in full sun, but also do well in partial shade. 2 to 3 watering should be given during harvest time. Loquat ripens in early March. Loquat trees enhance landscapes. Loquat trees are drought tolerant, but they will produce higher quality fruit with regular, deep watering. Loquats can be propagated by various grafting methods, including shield-budding or side-veneer grafting and cleft-grafting. Loquat is pollinated by bees. Through seed sometime the plant cannot bear fruit. Propagation through seed is done only when the tree is used as an ornamental plant or for the use of rootstock. For the rootstock purpose the seed is removal from the fruit then wash with water and planted in flats when the seedlings attain height of 6 to 7 inches and stem is ½ inch thick at the base then transplanted, the seedlings are ready for top-worked. Seed is not edible and maybe poisonous. Loquat tree requires heavy manure and fertilizer. About 25 tones of well rotten FYM/ha needed. In case of chemical fertilizer, the good formula of NPK is 1 lb. of 6-6-6 three times during a year. Light application of nitrogen fertilizer but too much nitrogen will reduce the flowering. Few pests that bother loquats. Fruit fly is the serious pest of loquat. Birds will peck the ripe fruit and damage. Black scale, fire blight and crown rot are major diseases. Harvesting is done when the fruit is fully ripened. Ripening is done after 90 days of flowers opening. Like mango the fruit is not ripen when off from the tree and are excessively acidic. It is difficult to remove fruit from cluster without tearing carefully remove the fruit or cluster. Tree start bearing fruits 3rd year of plantation and give maximum yield @15 years. These fruits usually take 2 months after the fruit set. Stored at least 1 to 2 weeks in a refrigerator. Average yield obtain from loquat is 15-20 kg/tree depends upon soil, climate and cultural practices. Most of the orchards are propagated through seed that’s why not uniform. For improvement of loquat production proper work should be done on multiplication, identification and collection of loquat genotype. Other cultural practices should also be done like pruning, thinning, plant protection and irrigation for high yield and production. So, farmer should follow recommended practices to improve the production of minor fruits.
Rohoma Tahir, Dr. Zahoor Hussain, Mujahid Ali (Horticulture, College of Agriculture, UOS)