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Fruit Crops Program



Peach (Prunus persica) is second most important stone fruit (after plum) in Pakistan. The economic life of peach orchards in Pakistan is 7 to 10 years and the most important factors responsible for this decline has been identified as the use of inappropriate rootstock and calcium induced iron chlorosis. A major problem with wild peach rootstock is its genetic variability. Different types of rootstocks have been used for peaches in the world. GF 677 is a potential rootstock under Pakistani soil conditions resulting to extend the economic life of the orchard beyond 15 years. It is considered to be a rootstock for calcareous and high pH soil conditions because it is resistant to calcium induced iron chlorosis and useful in replant situations to avoid replant disease syndrome. It is resistant to peach rust, crown gall, root knot, and is more vigorous than peach seedling rootstocks. Fruit yield, average fruit weight and fruit quality is higher in trees on GF 677. However, GF 677 cannot be propagated through seed, being a hybrid (Peach x Almond). Demand of peach plants grafted on GF 677 may not be met by conventional multiplication of this rootstock; therefore in vitro propagation has become an interesting alternative to the conventional methods. However, no report exists about its multiplication through tissue culture in Pakistan. Hence, at NARC, Islamabad protocols for in vitro shoot proliferation, rooting, and acclimatization has been standardized. Field nursery of the greenhouse acclimatized plants has also been developed. For shoot proliferation study, MS (a high salt medium) and (a low salt medium) media were compared with different BAP concentrations (0.3, 0.6, 0.9 mg l-1). For rooting, half strength MS medium was used with different IBA concentrations (0.3, 0.4, 0.5, 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, 4.0, mg l-1). Data were recorded after 4 weeks of subculture. From the combined results, it was concluded that, of the two media tested, MS was the best for multiplication of peach rootstock GF 677 and 0.6 mg l-1 BAP was the most affective concentration of cytokinin. Of the different concentrations of IBA tested, 0.4 mg l-1 was suitable auxin for rooting without any callus interphase. Well rooted plantlets were transferred to greenhouse and grown successfully with 80% survival.


Strawberry, Fragaria ananasa is known as the most delicious and refreshing fruit which is a rich source of vitamins and minerals. Strawberry culture is quite profitable for small land owners. The strawberry fruit is soft and perishable and its quality is affected when it touches the soil. Therefore, field studies were undertaken to study the effect of different mulches on fruit quality and yield in strawberry.


During 1986, work on strawberry culture was started at NARC. The effect of low plastic tunnel, black plastic and paddy straw mulch on the yield, quality and precocity of fruits of strawberry cultivars was studied. The variety, ‘Cruz’ was the earliest with the largest fruits and the highest yield per plant. Low tunnels and black plastic mulch increased the yield and earliness. Training courses were organized for dissemination of this technology. Leaflets were also published and distributed among end-users. Strawberry is now being cultivated in large scale throughout Pakistan, especially in Mingora, Swat, Lahore and Karachi. The planting of strawberry should be done on raised beds with double rows having plant to plant and row to row distances of 30 cm each. The black plastic mulch is superior to straw mulch due to preservation of heat, moisture conservation and suppression of weeds. Furthermore, it keeps the fruit clean for fetching high price in the market.

Grape is one of the most remunerative summer fruit crops, native to warm, temperate zone between 34oN and 49oS latitude. Mountainous and sub-mountainous areas up to 6000 feet or more are suitable for its cultivation. In Pakistan, grapes are grown on an area of 13.0 thousand hectares with the total production of about 49.0 thousand tones (2004-05). Recent developments in its production technology have made it possible to grow this crop in Pothowar region on commercial scale. Monsoons rain during summer results in fungal diseases and rottening of berries. Therefore, it is imperative to select those varieties that could escape the summer rain and mature before the monsoon season. Hence, early maturing table varieties are suitable for Pothowar region. The recent introduction and evaluation of varieties at National Agricultural Research Centre (NARC) Islamabad, has revealed that the varieties, Flame Seedless, King’s Ruby and Perlette are early in maturity, so are found successful in the region. These can be harvested by the end of June, thus escape the monsoon rain damage. The early crop has given the higher returns to the farmers. On the basis of encouraging results obtained in terms of fruit production and quality a complete package of production technology has been developed for the farmers. This includes availability of plants, planting methods, plant to plant 2.6m row to row 3.3m Trellising and Training on two parallel wires attached with the pole along with each plant (cane system), Punning at dormant stage, bunch thinning at flowering stage leaving 25 healthy bunches per plant, irrigation at weekly intervals, fertilization N: P: K (1:1:1) during mid February, Harvesting at fully ripe stage and insect pest and disease management as per requirement.


Guava (Psidium guajava L.) is important commercial fruit in tropics and subtropics because of its nutritional value and wide adaptability to varied soil and climatic conditions. Unfortunately, guava does not lend itself easily to the various asexual propagation methods. The only method of its commercial propagation is through seed and it is for this reason that the standardization of its cultivars has not been possible. Horticulturists in the subcontinent have tried different asexual methods for its propagation, also using plant growth regulators with limited success. Therefore, at NARC, the scientists started work on its vegetative propagation. Although guava is hard to root, our investigations (1988-2003) indicate that it can be successfully propagated axesually. The use of stem cuttings is considered to be the least expensive method for vegetative propagation. Therefore, different types of cuttings during different seasons of the year, using different root promoting plant growth regulators and rooting media under mist in the greenhouse were tried. On the basis of our research findings, local selections were made from guava growing areas of Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh keeping in view size, colour, shape, seed to pulp ratio, taste and yield. True-to-type plants of selected cultivars and training in propagation was also provided to the nurserymen of Pattoki and Sharqpur (Punjab), Kohat (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) and Larkana (Sindh). A clonal orchard (10 acres) of local and exotic cultivars was established at Sharqpur (Punjab). Now a commercial nurseryman has set a clonal guava nursery in that area as well. This success will lead to the establishment of true-to-type orchards of guava yielding high quality fruit for fresh consumption and processing industry. Shoot-tip cuttings (10-15 cm long with 4 leaves) of current season growth treated with 12 ppm solution of Paclobutrazol (ICI Pakistan) gave 90% rooting after 6 weeks when planted in coarse sand media under mist in the greenhouse with 80-85% relative humidity and 25-30 oC temperature, and natural day length during July-August. Similar results were obtained when 4000 ppm IBA was used keeping all the other conditions constant. Rooted cuttings are later shifted in polythene tubes containing a media mixture of soil, silt and well rotten manure in equal quantities and kept in the greenhouse for acclimatization.


Olive (Olea europea) is good source of high quality edible oil which contains ployphenols, vitamin E and other natural antioxidants. Wild olive are common in northern areas of Pakistan but cultivated species are rare occurrence that shows that cultivated species can be grown successfully in Pakistan. Some promising oil and table cultivars have been identified by Fruit Crops Programme at NARC from exotic germplasm introduced from Turkey and Italy. To extend the olive plantation in Pakistan research was being carried out on multiplication of selected varieties at NARC. Propagation through seed is not desirable method for multiplication due to segregation. Seedlings require larger time to come into bearing. Therefore, research on various propagation techniques was started at NARC. Olive is hard to root under ordinary conditions but can be successfully propagated through cutting under mist. On the basis of research findings by NARC techniques are being adapted by research institutions and farmers in the provinces of Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, About 1.37 millions wild olive plants have been converted into improved varieties. The results of experiments conducted at NARC reveal that cutting of 10-15 cm in length of last year growth treated with 4000 ppm IBA and planted in sand culture under mist at temperature ranging 22-28oC with relative humidity 80-90% give more than 60-70% rooting success during the 2nd week of February. Conversion of wild olive tree into productive commercial cultivars by suitable methods of top-working have great impact on economy of olive growing areas of Pakistan. Top working techniques were standardize by Fruit Crops Programme (NARC). The highest results (80-90%) were achieved from August to September with T-Grafting technique.

High Density Low Stature Orchards for Higher Fruit Production
Yields of fruit orchards are strongly related to tree planting density. Low yields of traditional orchards can be improved substantially with high density orchards; however our growers have very little or no experience. This system, popularly known as High Density Planting (HDP); enables earlier cropping of higher regular yields and improved farm management practices; leading to higher productivity with better fruit quality and profitability.

According to Agricultural Statistics, area under cultivation of fruits in Pakistan is about 875,000 hectares. Out of which we are getting 7,200,000 tones of fresh fruits annually. Our average production is about 8.23 Tones per hectare, which is very low as compared to advanced countries i.e. 20-25 Tones per hectare.

There are many reasons for low production and there is need to increase the productivity in order to meet the needs of increasing population and exports as well. To increase the production we need either to increase the area under fruit cultivation or to go for modern orchard establishment i.e. high-density plantings and best management practices.

Figure 1. High Density Plantation trial of the Fig at NARC

Figure 2. High Density Fig Plantation at fruiting

Control of excessive vegetative growth in a tree for increased productivity is major principle of high-density orcharding. Horticultural methods most commonly known to control tree growth are training of a plant at low stature through pruning, use of dwarfing rootstocks and growth regulators. Farmers of small land holdings can get more income from a small area through high-density orchards; they can intercrop other fruits of short duration as well i.e. Papaya, pineapple and strawberry.

Growing the Fig at High Density

The Common Fig (Ficus carica) is a large, deciduous shrub or small tree native to southwest Asia and the Mediterranean region (from Afghanistan to Portugal). The fig grows best and produces the best quality fruit in Mediterranean and dryer warm-temperate climates. Rains during fruit development and ripening can cause the fruits to split. It grows to a height of 6.9–10 metres (23–33 ft) tall. In containers figs are eye-catching specimens inside or outdoors. Fig trees are cut back severely in fall or winter, depending on whether the crop is desired the following summer or fall. Branches are often notched to induce lateral branching and increase the yield.

Fig plants are easy to propagate through several methods. Propagation using seeds is not the preferred method since vegetative methods exist that are quicker and more reliable. For spring propagation, before the tree starts growth, cut 15–25 cm (6-10 inches) shoots that have healthy buds at their ends, and set into a moist perlite and/or sandy soil mix located in the shade. Once the cuttings start to produce leaves, bury them up to the bottom leaf to give the plant a good start in the desired location. Plants in the field may be spaced from 6 to 25 ft (1.8-7.5 m) apart depending on the cultivar and the fertility of the soil. A spacing of 13 x 13 ft (4x4 m) allows 260 trees/acre (625 trees/ha). In Colombia, growers are advised to set the trees at 10 x 10 ft (3x3 m) on level land, 10 x 13 ft (3x4 m) on slopes.

The Fig is being grown as tree (260-435 plants per acre); however results of early trials at National Agriculture Research Centre (NARC) Islamabad have shown that it can be grown as a low height plant in high density plantation as high as strawberry or cotton; in rows (row to row 2 ft and plant to plant 1 ft; 21780 plants per acre) Figure 1. Every year after leaf fall (December-January) before spring sprouting if plantation is severly pruned like Falsa (Grewia asiatica L.) leaving 3-6 inch of stem from ground level; one can get 60,000 to 70,000 cuttings (of pruned wood) from an acre for nursery planting. Fruiting commences in less than a year. Over 5 tones of fresh fruit per acre can be harvested as spring crop from the pruned plants every year (Figure 2 and3).


Figure 3. High Density Fig Plantation at fruit maturity

Production, Import and Export

Total area under Figs in Pakistan is 162 ha with 741 tones of production (fresh fruit). Pakistan is an importer of dry figs as the production is not sufficient to cater the needs of growing population. In 2007-08, Pakistan imported dry figs 217 tones worth Rs. 4.5 million. Turkey, Iran and Afghanistan being the main source of imported fig.

Varieties suitable for high density planting

Black Mission: Fruits all-over black purple, elongated, Flesh watermelon to pink, fairly good taste. Easily dried at home. Single best all-round variety for south, north, coast, interior.

Brown Turkey: Medium, skin is purplish brown, flesh pinkish amber. Good flavor. Best when fresh. Small, hardy, vigorous tree.

Value-added Products

Figs can be eaten fresh or dried, used in jam-making and pickling. Most commercial production is in dried or otherwise processed, since the ripe fruit does not transport well, and once picked does not keep well. Food products containing figs include fig paste, fig concentrate, fig powder, fig nuggets and diced and sliced figs. The natural flavor of figs can be preserved in fig jam, preserves and paste. To make fig concentrate, which replaces sucrose and corn syrup, the water is extracted from the figs. Chopped, diced and sliced figs are incorporated into food products. When dried, figs are added to cookies, bars and snacks. Besides high-quality figs for fresh consumption, a small number of figs are canned.

The dried seeds in figs contain oil that is 30 percent fatty acids. This edible oil can be used as a lubricant. The natural humectants in figs make them a beneficial ingredient in such health and beauty products as soap, moisturizers, fragrance and candles.

After the fruit harvest, fig leaves are plucked and used for fodder in India. In southern France, fig leaves are used as a source of perfume material; the leaves create a woody-mossy scent.

Nutritional Value

Figs are one of the highest plant sources of calcium and fiber. According to USDA data for the Mission variety, dried figs are richest in fiber, copper, manganese, magnesium, potassium, calcium, and vitamin K, relative to human needs. They have smaller amounts of many other nutrients. Figs have a laxative effect and contain many antioxidants. They are good source of flavonoids and polyphenols. In one study, a 40-gram portion of dried figs (two medium size figs) produced a significant increase in plasma antioxidant capacity. Eight ounces of figs provide 30 percent of the recommended daily fiber. Figs are high in potassium and manganese. They provide 6 percent of the daily value of vitamin A, 9 percent of B1, 13 percent of B6, 10 percent of vitamin E and 13 percent of vitamin K. Because figs contain oxalates, they are not recommended in large amounts for people with kidney or gallbladder problems. Figs are known to promote bone density, because they are high in calcium. Fig leaves lower insulin levels and lower levels of triglycerides.

There is a chapter in the Qur’an named after the fig tree, and the fruit is also mentioned in Qur’an in many places. The Qur’an mentioned figs and then the Prophet Muhammad [s] stated, "If I had to mention a fruit that descended from paradise, I would say this is it because the paradisiacal fruits do not have from these fruits for they prevent hemorrhoids, prevent piles and help gout.

Brown Turkey Black Mission


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