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Growing Loquats: Eriobotrya japonica

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A member of the rose family. The Eriobotrya genus has Loquat as its only prominent species. There are over 800 cultivars of Loquat found around the world, of which less than 30 are widely grown.

Form: A large shrub or small tree.
Lifespan: 20-30 years.
Leaf retention: Evergreen.
Growth rate: Moderate.
Mature Size: 10-30' high and 8-25' wide.
Flowers: White, fragrant, small, clustered at the ends of branches.
Bloom: Fall to early winter. Tends to bloom heavily, then lightly, in alternating years. Pruning excess blooms in heavy years may help even out blooming cycles.
Self-fruitful: Depends on cultivar. All cultivars do better with a companion as pollinator.
Years before fruiting: Grafted 2-4, grown from seed 8-10.
Fruit: Oval, round or pear-shaped, 1-2" long, skin is smooth or downy, yellow to orange. Flesh is white, yellow or orange, sweet to sour. Contains 1-5 brown seeds.
Months for fruit to ripen: 3. Ripe when slightly soft.
Storage after harvest: Fruit of many cultivars must be consumed immediately, a few cultivars last up to two weeks when refrigerated.
Leaves: Dark green, glossy on top, whitish or rusty-hairy beneath, thick, stiff, prominent veins, broadly elliptical to narrowly lance-shaped.
Stems: No thorns.
Roots: Shallow. Grafted onto rootstock for fruit production.
Cultivars of Note:
'Advance' Sweet-tart flavor, 1-2 seeds, thin skin, pear shape, needs another cultivar as pollinizer.
'Champagne' Sweet, spicy flavor, 2 seeds, thin skin, pear shape, self-fertile.
Wildlife: Attracts bees, birds and mammals.
Toxic / Danger: All parts mildly poisonous except ripe fruit.
Origin: China. Introduced to Japan 2000 years ago.

Cultivation and Uses
USDA hardiness zones: 8b-10. Temperatures below 26°F kill flowers and fruit. Fruit bearing loquats are best grown in citrus producing regions and need some heat to mature a crop. Being subtropical, they prefer mild summers and winters and dislike freezing temperatures.
Sunset climate zones: 4-24.
Chill hours: None.
Heat tolerant: Somewhat. Needs afternoon shade when temperatures are over 90°F. Direct sun over 100°F will scald leaves and kill plant.
Sun: Full sun to afternoon shade when temperatures are over 90°F. Open shade all day in very hot regions.
Drought tolerant: Somewhat. Needs shade and water to cope in high heat.
Water after becoming established: Weekly when fruiting. When plant is over four years old, monthly other times. Avoid over-watering. Flood intolerant.
Soil: Very well drained, saline-free, tolerant otherwise, pH 6.1-6.5 (slightly acidic) is best, but tolerates pH 6.1-7.8 (slightly acidic to slightly alkaline).
Fertilize: Avoid chemical fertilizers in regions with alkaline soil. Loquats are sensitive to salt. They are prone to magnesium and potassium deficiency in alkaline soil, and the symptoms resemble fireblight or salt burn. The application of magnesium sulfate and fish emulsion, diluted in water and poured around the drip line, has been found to solve the problem.
Mulch: Use 4-6" under the canopy but one foot away from the trunk to reduce heat stress, water loss, and prevent weeds.
Planting: Can be grown as ornamental in large containers. Must be positioned on top of a mound if there is any danger of flooding.
First Year Care: Water every other day first week. Water twice a week for first couple of months. Water every week after that for first year. Water every two weeks for second and third years.
Prune: Thin fruit when marble-sized or smaller to 4-6 fruits per terminal shoot. This will allow fruit to grow larger and avoid branch breakage. Mature trees may be trimmed to a 6-12' height to make harvesting easier.
Litter: Fruit if not harvested.
Propagation: Seed used for ornamentals, cuttings grafted onto rootstock for fruit production.
Pests: Fire blight.
Uses: Ornamental, edible fruit (fresh, fruit salad, pies, jams and jellies).

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