Mandarin orange (Citrus reticulata) is most common among citrus fruits grown in India. It occupies nearly 40% of the total area under citrus cultivation in India.
In India, in terms of area under cultivation, citrus is the third largest fruit industry after Banana and Mango. Nagpur mandarin is one of the best mandarins in the world. Production of this fruit crop in central and western part of India is increasing every year.
Orange is rich in vitamin C, A, B and phosphorus. Orange is consumed fresh or in the form of juice, jam, squash and syrup. It is the main source of peel oil, citric acid and cosmetics which have international market value.
Climate and Soil Requirements:
Mandarins grow successfully in all frost free tropical and sub-tropical regions upto 1,500 m. above m.s.l. An annual rainfall of 100-120 cm. and temperature ranging from 100-350 C is suitable for cultivation of the crop.
Mandarins can be grown in a wide variety of soils but medium or light loamy soils with slightly heavy sub-soil, well-drained with pH of 6.0-8.0 are ideal for cultivation.
Mandarin orange is propagated by seeds and also vegetatively propagated by T-budding. Seedlings are mostly transplanted in the month of July-August after commencement of monsoon.
Mandarins are usually planted in pits of 50 cm. X 50 cm. X 50 cm. size in a square system with a spacing of 4.5-6 m. , accommodating 350-450 plants/ha. In north-eastern parts of India, Khasi mandarins are very closely spaced (4.5 m. X 4.5 m.), accommodating more than 500 plants/ha.
Irrigation is provided at an interval of 10-15 days during winter months whereas during summer months it is provided at an interval of 5-7 days. Drip irrigation leads to effective, efficient and economic use of irrigation water and is recommended specially in low rainfall regions of Maharashtra, MP and Rajasthan which are some of the major producing areas.
Important mandarin orange varieties cultivated in India are Ngapur Santra, Coorg Santra, Khasi Santra, Mudkhed, Shringar, Butwal, Dancy, Kara (Abohar), SZ-IN-COM, Darjeeling Mandarin, Sumithra mandarin, Seedless-182 and Kinnow mandarin.
During 2001-02, around 29 thousand tonnes of fresh oranges were exported to Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Canada, U.S.A., U.K., Germany and Gulf countries viz. Saudi Arabia, U.A.E., Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman. Fruits exported to neighbouring countries viz. Bangladesh and Nepal are sent by trucks.