John R. Pyzner | 9/14/2006 12:43:06 AM
The fruit is pale yellow to orange, oval and usually about an inch long in ornamental types but may be up to 2 inches long in some named varieties. The flesh of the fruit is similar to a peach and surrounds several seeds.
Most loquats obtained from nurseries are seedlings and are variable in fruit quality. Several improved varieties are available. Champagne and Gold Nugget are two of the more common varieties.
Pyzner says loquats are adapted to most soil types as long as there is good drainage. They are also tolerant of dry conditions, although tipburn of the leaves can occur during hot, dry periods.
"Weed control is important, since loquats do not compete well with weeds and turfgrass," the LSU AgCenter horticulturist says, adding, "Removing competing vegetation 2 to 3 feet from the base of the tree is very beneficial."
Loquats produce white fragrant flowers in the fall and early winter. Small green fruit are produced that hang on the trees until spring when they enlarge and ripen.
The fruit can be eaten fresh or used in jams and jellies. The fruit can be killed by temperatures in the low 20s during the winter and by temperatures in the upper 20s while in bloom and after the fruit begins growth in the spring.
A good fruit crop normally occurs about every three to four years in north Louisiana without winter protection.
Pyzner says loquat fruit production has occurred in North Louisiana the last five years, but winters in which the temperature dropped to near 20 degrees or lower have resulted in very light fruit production.
Fruit production is more frequent in southern Louisiana and will likely occur most years. Planting trees in protected areas on the south side of buildings may increase the chances of fruit surviving the winter.
The horticulturist says plants are normally hardy to 10 degrees, but the large, leathery evergreen leaves can sometimes suffer significant cold damage at slightly higher temperatures. A few plants have been killed at temperatures around 5 degrees.
Pyzner says loquats are related to apples and pears and have few pests and diseases. Fireblight is the most destructive disease and can sometimes be a significant problem. He adds that loquats are basically low maintenance plants that have little requirement for fertilizer, irrigation, pesticide and pruning.
Additional yard and garden information is available by contacting an extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office. Also, look for Gardening and Get It Growing links in the Feature section of the LSU AgCenter Web site: www.lsuagcenter.com.
On the Internet: LSU AgCenter: http://www.lsuagcenter.com
On the Internet: www.louisianalawnandgarden.org.