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Monday, April 5, 2010

Star Fruit

Carambola (Averrhoa carambola Linn) or Star Fruit or Belimbing (In Malays) is a tropical fruit and popular in Malaysia for domestic and export market. Carambola origin believed from South East Asia (Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia, Borneo and surroundings. It was under Oxalidaceae family and the tree type was branching system. In Malaysia the star fruit or carambola known as Belimbing Manis or also called Belimbing Segi. Carambola  riches with Vitamin A and Vitamin C and best eaten as Fresh Fruit. Carambola also processed for jams, jelly product, pickle and for fruit juice. 

In Malaysia carambola was grown as commercial scale started way back in 1980's by Chinese Farmers in Selangor (Serdang, Petaling, Ulu Langat and Sepang). In 2006 about 1,109 hectare carambola grown in Malaysia increased to 1,340 ha in 2009. Carambola production was 10,222 metric ton in 2006 increase to 11,340 mt in 2009. The largest area growing carambola in Malaysia was in Gombak District, Selangor (132 ha) followed by Seremban District , Negri Sembilan (79 ha) and Temerloh District ,Pahang (68 ha) in 2010. Other states growing carambola was Perak (Larut Matang and Manjung District), Pahang (Triang, Temerloh , Raub and Bentong District) and Johor (Muar and Batu Pahat District). The most popular carambola clones grown in Malaysia was B2, B10 and B7 (Belimbing Madu). The combination of B2, B10 and B17 with proper ratio is the best for pollination purposes.

Carambola suitable in mineral soil as well as sandy clay soil with proper drainage system. Certain ex-mining area also suitable for carambola with adequate farm management system especially on Good Agriculture Practices System. From my experiences in doing extension system for more than 30 years in many states, carambola start bearing flower at 13 months after planting. First harvest was from 15 months after planting and the yield reach a stable production on the 9th year at about 200 kg per tree/year. The productive period fer carambola about 15 - 20 years. Our record shown that for 2nd year of planting the yield potential about 16.6 mt/ha/year and increase to 27.7 mt/ha (3rd year), 49.5 mt/ha/yr (5th year) and 66.4 mt/ha/yr (9-20th year).

There are about 17 carambola clones registered by Department of Agriculture Malaysia and only 3 clones recommended for commercial growing due to its special characteristic. Clone B2 (or MAHA 66) produce 8-12 cm length of fruit size and weight at 150-200 gm/fruit with 8 cm diameter. The fruit flesh colour turn light green when matured with fine texture, sweet and very juicy. B2 Clones has a soft skin and low durability during post harvest activity. This clone planted as a source of pollen to other clones. B10 Clones are the most popular clones for more than 20 years due to its characteristic with sweetness, aromatic, gold yellow colour and fine texture. The fruit size between 200-300 gm/fruit with 8 cm diameter and 12-14 cm length. This clone is the most suitable for export market. The latest clone was B17 Clones or Belimbing Madu registered in 1988 and originated from Triang ,Pahang. Fruit shape was cylindrical with red golden colour, aromatic and juicy and very sweet (12-18 % Brix).

Land preparation started before planting activity started with land preparation activity. Lining with 6m x 6m giving about 278 tree/ha with combination of 3 clones (55 tree of B2) and 248 tree of B10 or B17) for mineral soils. For Ex-mining land the planting distance recommendation was 4.6m x 4.6 m giving 480 tree/ha. From my observation for many years, source Carambola seedling collected from marcotted branch from selected tree. Planting hole of 60cmx 60cmx 60cm prepared and lay 5-10 kg organic manure (Chicken dung) and with 20 gm/hole CIRP. Drip Irrigation system is recommended for carambola tree with PE Tubing with Tensionmeter Reading 30 cbar for mineral soil and 40 cbar for ex-mining land soil.

Weed control done either by manual or chemical where the weedicide spraying activity controlled with fan nozzle equipment. Manuring program started with NPK 15:15:15 for about 167 gram/tree also organic fertilizer about 8-20 kg/tree. To improve soil condition GML 0.5 kg/tree are recommended. Pruning activity started from Formation Stage with 0.5 meter height with balance shape. Marcotting activity between Clone B2 and Clone B10/B17 after one year ratio 1:2 and 3 feet above ground level.

During reproductive stage we must follow pest surveillance activity to check pest population. Fruit-fly Trap installed at 10 bottle/ha with Methyl Eugenol and insecticide. It will attract male fruit-fly to mate but killed in the incident... what so crazy of male male fruit-fly. Follow GAP spraying activity before start wrapping carambola fruit. Wrap every single selected fruit with plastic and ole newspaper when 60-70 of fruit was formed. For B10 clones the wrapping activity 10-14 days after fruit formation (4-5 cm diameter) and fro B17 clones about 17-21 days. Protein Bait (Protein Hydrolase with Malathion) at 60 gm/location sprayed to control Fruit Fly ( Bactocera spp.).

Harvesting started by index's colour or special code in the farms determined by farmers. Harvesting normally at morning and to cut the carambola fruit with secateurs about 10 cm length from the branch. From my observation the maturity index's for carambola in Malaysia used Index Color 2 & 3 for Europe Market whilst Index 3 & 4 for Hong Kong, Singapore and West Asia. Calculation for B2 clones to harvest from wrapping is 35-40 days, B10 (41-45 days) and B17 (55-60 days). Grading activities follows the standard that is Small Size (S) when fruit weight between 131 - 160 gm and Size Medium (M) sized 161-190 gm and Size Large (L) weighed more than 190 gm then all fresh carambola cleaned and arrange in special boxes before distributed.

My study shows that among pests attacked carambola in Malaysia was Fruit Fly (Bactocera spp) which inject the fruit and fall. Control of fruit fly by manual or chemical. IPM method by using Methyl Eugenol Trap, Protein Bait or Trap Crop (Ocimum sanctum - in Malays Daun Kemangi). Stem Borer (Indarbela diciplaga) attach main trunk and branch and controlled with Diazinon Chemicals at 2 ml/hole. No major disease for carambola recorded for major clones in Malaysia.

On Economic aspect, carambola is a profitable venture if there is enough capital and proper management system. Labour cost for wrapping is the most critical activity which need more people to wrap the fruit. Ex Farm for carambola price in Muar range between RM0.80 - RM 1.80/kg depending on season, quality or whether for domestic or export market. It is best to study market trend and production calendar to ensure market stability and production calendar.


Related articles:
1. Khasiat Belimbing (Klik disini)
2. Klon Belimbing di Malaysia (Klik disini)
3. Popular Fruit Clones in Malaysia (Click here)
4. Cashflow Buah-buahan (Klik disini)

M Anem
DOA Muar
Johor, Malaysia

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