Saturday, November 04, 2006

Growers' Guide on Abiu Production in the Philippines


Abiu or Caimo (Pouteria Caimito) is native to Brazil and Peru. It has been introduced to other countries including South-East Asia. Abiu in the Philippines was brought from Australia in 1987, and is now fast becoming popular.

The fruit is usually eaten fresh, It is usually sliced longitudinally in four parts and the seeds removed . It tastes best when chilled and flavored with Calamansi juice.


The small to medium-sized, evergreen tree grows up to 16 m high with upright or spreading branches. The leaves are dark green, 26 cm x 6 cm, oblong to elliptic and pointed at the tip.

The flowers are small, greenish-white and are borne in clusters at leaf axils. The fruits are oboivoid-globose, 6-8 cm in diameter and golden yellow when ripe. The flesh is white, soft, juicy and sweet. Each fruit has 1-3, large and flattened seeds.

The fruit and the tree resemble that tof tiesa (Canistel) but the flesh is similar to the taste, softness and sweetness of Caimito (Starapple).


"RCF GOLD" is the only registered variety of Abiu in the Philippines. Its fruit is round, large (weighs 300 grams) and golden yellow when ripe. Its flesh is translucent white, soft and melting, moderately juicy, sweet (19 Brix total soluble solids) and has high edible portion (63%). It has 1-2, oblong, black, large seeds. Other varieties have been identified but are not yet registered with the National Seed Industry Council.

Climatic and Soil Requirements

Climatic Requirement. Abiu thrives best in the open in places well-distributed rainfall. However, it can also be planted in areas with a distinct dry season if partial shading is provided.

Soil Requirement. Slightly acidic (pH 5.5-6.5), deep, loam soil with good drainageand rich in organic matter is favorable for raising Abiu. It can be planted in flat or slightly sloping areas.


Abiu may be propagated by seeds but asexual propagation through Cleft grafting and inarching is recommended. Grafted plants fruit as early as two years while plants propagated by seeds fruit in three years or more.

To prepare the seeds, remove the slimy covering by macerating in fine sand or coir dust. Wash thoroughly in clean water and air-dry.

Sow the seeds horizontally in individual containers (such as perforated black plastic bags) containing good soil, or in a seedbox containing fine river sand or coir dust. Position the seeds with their hilum (large scar) down. Cover with a thin layer of germinating medium. Water and keep the soil moist all the time.

Transplant seedlings established in the seedbed in individual containers mentioned above as soon as the first pair of leaves has expanded and the roots are still short. This is also to check early if the roots are infested with aphids.

With proper care Abiu seedlings grow fast and are ready for field grafting or inarching when they are about a year old.


Abiu is planted during the start of rainy season, from May to June, with a planting distance of 4-5 m between trees. Prepare holes 30 cm in diameter and 30 cm deep. It is recommended to place a handful of complete fertilizer (15-15-15) before planting. Cover the fertilizer with a layer of soil. Remove the plastic bag from the plant and set the plant at the center of the hole. Cover the hole with soil. Water after planting.

Training and Pruning

Unlike other fruit trees, Abiu branches at an early stage. For easier management of the trees, prune branches growing lower than 50 cm from the trunk. Maintain the treeheight at 2 meters by cutting excess branches. Pruning is done regularly to remove dead. weak or interlocking branches.


During summer months, Abiu trees should be watered especially when the leaves start to wither. Mulching with leaves and grasses around the tree is recommended to conserve moisture in the soil.


Apply compost and manure if available. Mulching also conserves the nutrients stored in the soil. Application of inorganic fertilizers is recommended if Abiu trees exhibit low fruit yield. Apply 200 grams complete fertilizer on newly bearing Abiu trees at the start and end of rainy season. Five-year old trees and above should be fertilized with 500 grams complete fertilizer twice a year.


Plants propagated from seeds start to fruit in three years while grafted plants start to fruit in tow years. Abiu is available all-year-round but the peak of the fruiting season is from December to February. When the fruits turns golden yellow, it is ready for harvesting. A five to seven year old tree usually yields 50-70 fruits.

Abiu is harvested by twisting or pulling from the stem. It usually has a storage life of two weeks.

Reference: Growers' Guide on Abiu Production by Dr. Roberto Coronel

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Dr. Roberto Coronel: The Sherlock Holmes of Plants

Fruitful life

HE never dreamt of a career in agriculture, but today, research professor Dr. Roberto E. Coronel has a fruitful life discovering little known plants endemic to the Philippines and propagating them. The fruit-and-nut expert at the Institute of Plant Breeding in UP Los Baños, has in fact been dubbed "the Sherlock Holmes of Plants'' by newspaperman-turned-farmer Joe Burgos, for his work in tracking down obscure plants that are all but lost to more popular varieties.

He thought of taking up commerce, recalls this Bulacan, Bulacan native, until an uncle dissuaded him. The uncle had attended workshops and seminars at UP Los Baños during the summer and found the environment agreeable. "He thought this was where I should be," says Coronel.

Shifting to agriculture sealed his fate. It led to a teaching stint at UP and a lifelong passion for conserving and developing native fruit species which has earned him accolades here and abroad. Coronel's book, "Edible Fruits and Nuts," published in the Netherlands, has been translated not only in Filipino but also in other languages, including Bahasa Indonesia and Vietnamese. "It is the most complete reference on tropical fruits in Asia," he says matter-of-factly.

The Rome-based International Plant Genetic Institute has, in turn, commissioned Coronel to write a monograph on the promotion and use of the underdeveloped pili nut. The Katutubo (meaning, native), he says, is the first pili variety registered in the Philippines. "Until now, it has not been surpassed in terms of productivity and nut size."

The mother plant which produced Katutubo was among the pili nuts from Oas, Albay, planted in the 1920s along the present-day Pili Drive in UP Los Baños. The drive going to the Institute of Plant Breeding (IPB) is lined with pili trees that, according to Coronel, have a lot of potential and are easy to propagate.

Pili, like the fruits mabolo and balimbing (starfruit) are endemic in the Philippines. He laments, however, that we are fast losing many of our native fruit varieties because we have stopped using them. "For example, in mangoes, the most popular and saleable is the carabao variety so that other varieties like pajo, pico and baluno (a wild mango seen in Mindanao) are becoming very rare. Trees bearing these varieties are being cut to give way to carabao mangoes."

To track down the country's remaining native plants, Dr. Coronel does some sleuthing job, with a little help from his staff and some old literature. Despite such efforts, they sometimes fail to save the plants. Recalls this agriculturist: "We read in this Philippine Agricultural Review issue published in the early 1900s that an old mango variety known as Corazon existed in Malabon (now Gen. Aguinaldo), Cavite. We went there in 1978 to collect budsticks to propagate this rare mango, but found out that the owner had cut down the tree. We only saw the stump and knew that we had permanently lost a valuable plant resource."

He remembers another huge, century-old carabao mango tree heavily laden with fruits in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan, which he knew was still existing in 2000. "But when we returned this summer, the tree was no longer there. We were told that it was hit by lightning."

Preserving native plants

For the most part, however, Dr. Coronel and his team succeed in their efforts to collect and preserve native plants, such as the galo of Indang, Cavite and the bago of Cuenca, Batangas. "Galo and bago are, like pili and mabolo, underutilized native fruits. They could be raised as garden plants and provide nutritious food for the family." How does his team operate? "When we go on collecting trips, we get mature fruits and budsticks for evaluation and propagation in the laboratory," says Coronel. "We measure important fruit characters such as weight, length, width, color and shape of the various parts such as the peel, flesh and seed. We germinate the seeds to produce seedlings and graft the budsticks to produce grafted plants exactly like the mother plant we collected."

Coronel's conservation work, however, does not begin and end in his office and laboratory. He carries it at home, too. His backyard in his modest house outside the UP Los Baños campus is full of grafted plants in various stages of growth. There is kabuyaw or kulubot (Kaffir lime), a member of the citrus family, that used to thrive in Cabuyao, Laguna, and which gave the town its name-an industrialized area nowadays. "In the old days, the lime was used as a shampoo but with the advent of commercial preparations, kabuyaw's popularity went down," says Coronel. "As it turned out, however, its leaves are much more useful than the fruit. Filipinos, for instance, who have been to Thailand and tasted its famous tom yum soup, would know it uses kabuyaw whose leaves give the dish its distinct flavor and aroma. In fact, I use the leaves in practically everything I cook. Sinigang, bagoong, at kung anu-ano pa."

There is also bignay, a plant rich in anti-oxidant. Bignay juice has a color and taste that remind one of grapes. Why buy grapes when we can have bignay instead, he asks.

Another plant Coronel is excited about is the miracle fruit, a bush-like plant he and the IPB helped introduce in the Philippines. Native to Ghana and Nigeria in Africa, the miracle fruit is fast gaining popularity here.

What makes it special? Anything sour, like calamansi or green mango, will taste sweet if you take a bite of miracle fruit first, he says. "Though not documented, some cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy have said that eating the fruit helped restore their appetite because it removed the metallic taste in their mouth after the chemo sessions," Coronel adds.

While most of the plants in his backyard are for sale, there are some which are not, like the Sweet Elena, a big-fruited carabao mango, which is still under study and propagation. "The mother tree is owned by Nida Malabed of Sta. Cruz, Zambales, and was named after Malabed's mother." The Sweet Elena shows promise because with its size, 360 grams per fruit, it could very well compete in the world market.

As the incumbent president of the Philippine Fruit Association who has been invited to grace many international fruit symposia, Coronel knows that unless Filipinos face the realities of changing times, we will be left behind in the export market. "Let's talk about mangoes, for example. By our standards, Philippine mangoes are already the best. But abroad, they pale in comparison to those coming from Mexico and Brazil, which are far more attractive to consumers because of their bigger size and reddish color. We call it red blush. Consumers are easily attracted by the fruit's outside appearance so we must adapt accordingly if we want to survive and compete. At present, some 90 countries are already producing mangoes, with Latin American countries, notably Mexico and Brazil, as the leading exporters." Part of his work, Coronel says, is to develop better fruit varieties so that Philippine fruit growers can compete in the export market.

Apart from his backyard garden, Coronel also keeps a four-hectare conservation farm in Calauan, Laguna. "It is not simply a farm. The idea is to conserve, conserve and conserve, especially endemic and indigenous plant species." Interested growers are welcome to source their plants from the farm, he says.

Coronel is due to retire from the academe next year but given his natural love for all living plants, his farming days are just beginning.

By Corazon A. Ong
Inquirer News Service
Nov. 15, 2003

You may contact Dr. Roberto Coronel at:

Brgy. Mabacan, Calauan, Laguna

or visit him at his home fruit nursery at:

9945 Mt. Makiling St., Los Banos Subd.,
Los Banos, Laguna

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Angeles City Grows Sweet Lanzones

Yes, you heard me right Angeles City grows sweet Lanzones. When you talk about Lanzones, you think about Laguna and Camiguin, because these provinces produce commercial and good quality Lanzones. Paete Lanzones from Laguna is considered the native variety in our country as of this date. Lansium Domesticum is the scientific name of Lanzones and two more introduced varieties are Duku from Indonesia and Longkong from Southern Thailand. Anyway maybe your wondering on how the heck Angeles City produces Sweet Lanzones. Iam not kidding but I'll give you a brief history as how Lanzones was cultivated in Angeles City.

It was the year 1850, when Angeles City was still an agricultural growing area producing sugarcane, rice, banana, ebus (buri), corn, cabo negro (sugar palm), tayum (indigo), langis (sesame), gugu, sasa (nipa) and an early settler by the named Don Rafael Nepomuceno brought seedlings of Lanzones that came from Lucban, Tayabas (Quezon) and planted it as a backyard crop until it bore fruits. Angelenos got amazed by this development that whenever they eat Lanzones fruits they plant the seeds at there homes. Actually President Quezon might have loved the lanzones fruits of this town too, if he had stayed here until October, because the Angeles lanzones are sweet, luscious, and have a different appeal to the discriminating taste. Yes, when President Quezon visited Angeles City he heard that Lanzones here was Sweet in his term.

Anyway, there are Lanzones orchards in Angeles City mostly grown from seeds. One famous fruit stall in the boundary on Angeles and San Fernando is Telabastagan, in here you will see hundreds of Lanzones planted near the highway. Every October is the fruiting season here in Angeles City and buy at the Telebastagan fruit stall to taste the sweet Angeles grown Lanzones. Nowadays because of the urbanization of Angeles City, people now grow the Lanzones as a backyard crop. Just notice almost every home has a Lanzones tree planted in it.

In downtown Angeles, you will notice in the old houses in Miranda Street planted are 50 years old aged Lanzones trees and are about 50 feet in height, this is a testament that Lanzones has already been naturalized in this city and is a favorite fruit tree landscape. We should be thanking a rare fruit pioneer by the named Don Rafael Nepomuceno who introduced this fruit and soon others followed. So, the next time you visit Angeles City in October dont forget to drop by Telebastagan fruit stall so that you will believe what Iam saying that Angeles City grows Sweet Lanzones is true. If your interested in growing Lanzones you can visit STARRDEC-LANZONES.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Philippine Carabao Mango

Basically Mango comes from the the family Anacardiaceae, from the Genus Mangifera and Species of indica. So the scientific name of Mango is "Mangifera Indica". Mango was told to be originated in India and at present i was told that there are 4000 species of Mangoes in the world from Asia, Africa, South America, Australia, India, Israel and some parts of Middle East. Some have names like Kensington, Keitt, Madame Francis, Tomy Atkins, Irwin, Maya, Ataulfo, Chok Anan, Alphonso, Kesar, Golek, Harumanis, R2E2 and many more. And when you're from the Philippines, there is only one variety that stands among the rest and that's the "Carabao Mango".

Carabao Mango was virtually unknown Mango specie in the Philippines and was not that well commercialized and exported back then. Reason for this is because Carabao Mango has a genetic characteristic to be a biennial fruiting mango. Biennial means it fruits every other year. So you wait another year to get good harvests. Carabao Mangoes are delicious no doubt back then along with Pico, another specie of mango from the Philippines. But commercialization was not feasible because of lack of supply especially for the export market. But one scientist from UP Los Banos came up with a solution. His name is Dr. Ramon Barba and he came up with a flower inducer called "Potassium Nitrate". How did Dr. Ramon Barbas' work helped the Mango industry in the Philippines?? Priceless... it maybe is one of the inventions that contributed billions of pesos for a certain fruit industry for the last 2 decades.

If you were to sum up all the export earnings of Carabao Mango or Super Manila Mango as they call it in the foreign market, it would be billions of pesos for our country that contributed greatly and helping our economy along with Pineapples, Coconuts, and Bananas. So, we owe a great appreciation to a scientist named Dr. Ramon Barba of UP Los Banos for inventing a flower inducer making Carabao Mangoes year round available in our country. My hats to you Dr. Ramon Barba for such a brilliant discovery and in behalf of all the Filipinos in the world, we thank you for giving us opportunity to savor eating Carabao Mangoes either eating it with Bagoong, making shakes, or simply eating it out of hand by peeling the skin until the juice drips in your hands and arms until you taste that sweet/sour fiberless delicious mango.

Well, Carabao Mango doesn't end there, there are many things to know about our beloved Mango. In planting Carabao Mangoes in your farm. You better choose the best strains of Carabao Mangoes in the country. One of the famous strains in the country was "Lamao" which was named after a place in Bataan where it was told to be originated. This was the most planted Carabao Mango in the country until other strains came out. Like the Guimaras strains (Talaban & Fresco) , MMSU Gold, Sweet Elena, and many other certified strains. We also need to mention Guadalupe Mangoes from Cebu, I was told that this strain of mango is the reason why Cebu Dried Mangoes are the best in the Philippines. I was told that Guadalupe strain mangoes have there roots or parents trees originate in the town of Manjuyod and Bindoy in Negros Oriental, which is known for there sweet and delicious Carabao Mangoes.

So before you plant your own Carabao Mangoes in your farm or backyard, plant those certified carabao mango strains that are being sold in by Bureau of Plant and Industry and reliable fruit nurseries around the country. It is also advisable to attend seminars on Mango Production to make sure you don't make mistakes on spending money on developing a Mango orchard. It is wise to visit a successful mango farmer first so that you can have tips and techniques on how to be a successful mango grower. To help you and guide you on your development of your Mango orchard, DOST-PCARRD has come up with a website named MANGO INFORMATION NETWORK (MIN) so that Mango growers will have an idea on the production, market, feasibility study of Carabao Mangoes. Other feature of the site is different uses of mangoes like making dried mangoes, chutneys, purees, juice, rolls etc... This site is probably one of the best sites in getting information on how to start a Mango orchard in the Philippines.