An encyclopedia of edible fruits of the world.



BER (Indian)_Zizyphus spp.

By parmarch28/12/20180

 BER (Indian)
(Zizyphus spp.)

A tree of Indian ber


Family:  Rhamnaceae

Other names:  Jujube, Chinese date, Chinese fig,

Ber is an important minor fruit of India. It is the most hardy fruit-tree cultivated all over India and is often called the poor man’s fruit. Most trees in India growing isolated are of seedling origin and therefore bear poor quality and their fruit sells cheap.  

            However, during the last few decades, regular commercial plantations of budded trees have now come up all over India, and fetch quite good price.

            These India varieties are not as rich in sugar and vitamin C as the good Chinese varieties. However, they contain 50 to 150mg of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) per 100 mg of fruit and 12 to 18.7 per cent sugar. This is even better than the vitamin C content of the juice of sweet oranges. The candied ber also makes an excellent product. These superior varieties of ber are no longer the poor man’s fruit.

            Ber tree is also used in India for rearing the insect Tachardia laccad, which yields lac (or shellac). The industry, however, received a setback after the gramophone industry started using discs of plastic instead of those made of lac.


About the botanical identity of the India ber, there has been some confusion in the past. It belongs to the genus Ziziphus of the family, Rhamnaceae, which is very close to the Family of the grape, Vitaceae. Several species grow wild in India. These include Ziziphus oenoplia, Z. rogosa, Z. xylocarnus and Z. rotundifolia. The last one grows as a small shrub in wastelands in Rajasthan and many other States. It also grows as a weed in newly-reclaimed soils. Its fruits are very small and acrid and its leaves are fed to goats and sheep after drying. The cultivated Indian ber is very distinct from the Chinese ber, which belongs to the species Z. jujube.


Flowering in Indian ber

            The Indian ber has a spreading tree, vine-like branches, leaves which are dark green on the upper surface and densely felted on the lower surface, it flowers in autumn, bears fruits at the end of winter; if it sheds the leaves it does so in the hot weather after fruiting and does not like a cold climate. These characters are not found in the Chinese species. The India species is Z. mauritiana.

Flowers of ber

            The Chinese species is difficult to propagate and is generally propagated by grafting, but the improved varieties of ber in India are easily propagated by ring-budding or by shield-budding in April to June. The root-stocks are generally grown directly in the field, since the ber has a top-root, which is broken or twisted in transplanting. The hard stone around the seed is cracked, treated with concentrated sulphuric acid or stratified in moist sand at ordinary temperature for 60 days before sowing in order to facilitate germination. About 10 days after budding if the buds are green, the root-stock is cut off 10 cm above the bud-union. The buds sprout after three weeks. When the new shoot arising from the bud is 15 cm long, its tip is pinched off to encourage the growth of the laterals for building a proper frame-work of the tree. Trees from which the budwood is to be obtained should be pruned in February or March. Stout new shoot with good budwood are ready after about 60 days. Seedling trees of Z. mauritiana are generally used as root-stock, but seedlings of Z. rotundifolia (Malha, Jharberi or Chanibor) can also be used. Old inferior varieties of ber can also be successfully top worked. The trees are severely headed back in February and a few of the new shoots are budded after about 60 days. The trees are often planted 6 to 7 metres apart, but the distance should be increased to double this length.  


The ber can grow in almost any soil even under conditions of neglect. Even under these conditions, some of the seedling trees attain a height of over 20 metres. It can also grow in slightly alkaline or water-logged soils. 

Indian ber fruit large

            Although ber is a very hardy tree, it does respond to good care. The commercial ber orchardists of India give 20 to 30 kg of farmyard manure to each tree.  

            Irrigation of the young trees during the hot weather, especially of the root-stock before budding, is very desirable. It hastens growth and makes budding easier and surer. No regular tillage is, however, given to plantation of ber.

            Training of the young trees to give them a strong framework with the main branches well spaced and arising not too high is important. Some annual pruning of the old trees is necessary. It encourages the growth of new shoots to increase bearing. Weak branches are removed. Some authorities recommended pruning every other year. The pruning is done after harvesting the fruit. Another light pruning can be given pruning can be given shortly before flowering. Trees on Z. rotundifolia root-stock are pruned severely and are cut back close of the bud-union. 

Indian ber of a round fruited variety

            In India, the fruit is harvested from November to March depending upon the region. The yield of the superior varieties varies from 40 to 90 kg per tree.


There are many varieties in different parts of India. Narma and Karaka are famous varieties of Varanasi in U.P. Umran or Umri is a large-fruited variety with a good yield and a good keeping quality cultivated around Delhi. Gola is very early, round-fruited variety of excellent quality exclusive to Delhi. Unfortunately, it does not have a good transport or keeping quality. DandanKheera and Chonchal are other good varieties of this area.

            Kotho or Katha are from Alwar, Rajasthan and Meherun ber is from Jalgaon in Maharshta.  Mehrun is said to be resistant to fruit flies which otherwise is a serious pest of ber. A seedless variety for ber was found in Poona, but it has not spread, probably due to the small size of the fruits.

Pest and diseases:

Birds attack the fruits of ber and are not easy to control. During the fruiting season, the ber trees are covered with fishing, nets in some places to protect them from birds.

            The biggest menace to ber cultivation all over India, However, is the attack of fruit-flies, Carpomyia vesuviana. It makes the fruit unfit for sale. The flies may ruin upto over 90 percent of fruit. The attack on different varieties may vary form 2 to 100 per cent. The early varieties with large sweet fruits are attacked more. Burying the infested fruits, ploughing the soil under the trees and application of Chlorpyriphos dust (1.5%) followed by spraying 0.1 per cent Chlordane after October every year is able to check the attack.

            The fruit-borer, Meridarchis scyrode, found in South India can be checked with DDT. This treatment can also control Porthomologa paraclina, which damages the leaves. Other insect found in India are Thiacidas postica, Tarucus Theophrastus, Myllocerrus transmarinus and Xanthochelus supercilious.

            The only noteworthy disease of ber in India is the powdery mildew caused by a species of Oidiopsis. It has been reported from western U.P. and can cause shedding of fruits. It can be controlled with lime sulphur wash or 0.1% Karathane spray. Other fungal diseases noticed in India are Mitterellia ziziphina and a species of Cercospora.

Most information drawn from an article by:

Ranjit Singh and S.K. Saxena

WAG-‘n-BIETJIE TREE_Zizyphus mucronata

By parmarch28/12/20180

(Zizyphus mucronata)

 Wag n bietjie tree

Family: Rhamnaceae

English name: Buffalo thorn.

Common names: umPhafa, umLahlankosi, isiLahla), umPhafa, umLahlabantu, mokgalo, mutshetshete, mphasamhala, mokgalô, moonaona.

Wag-‘n-bietjie tree represents life as we know it. The young twigs are zigzag, indicating that life is not always straightforward. Two thorns at the nodes are also significant; one facing backward represents where we come from and one facing forward, represents where we are going.

            This plant is distributed throughout the summer rainfall areas of sub-Saharan Africa, extending from South Africa northwards to Ethiopia and Arabia.


Wag-‘n-bietjie tree is a small to medium-sized tree, 3–10(–20) m high; with a spreading canopy. The main stem is green and hairy when young; year old branches often zigzag; the bark is reddish brown or roughly mottled grey, cracked into small rectangular blocks, revealing a red and stringy under-surface. Young stems are reddish brown. Leaves are simple, alternate; ovate or broadly ovate; vary enormously in size from tree to tree, 30–90 x 20–50 mm, tapering or often mucronate apex, base strongly asymmetrical, cordate to rounded on one side; margin finely serrated, often badly eaten by insects, glossy green above, slightly hairy and paler below; 3- to 5-veined from the base; veins covered with fine hairs when young; petiole up to 20 mm long; stipules, when present, take the form of small thorns at the nodes, one straight and one hooked. Leaves turn golden yellow in autumn.

            Flowers are borne in dense clusters in leaf axils; green to yellow; ± 4mm in diameter; inconspicuous (October–February).

 Flowers of wag n bietjie tree

The fruit is a smooth, shiny, leathery, spherical drupe, 12–20 mm in diameter, reddish-brown or deep red when ripe, slightly sweet, the pulp is dry.

            The fruit sometimes stays on the plant long after the leaves have fallen (March–August). The seeds are usually solitary, elliptic and compressed.


The fruits are edible.   These were used by residents in the former Transvaal in making porridge or as a coffee substitute. The fruit can also make a beer if fermented properly. During the Anglo-Boer war, the seeds were ground and used as a coffee substitute

Wag n bietjie developing fruits on tree

             A decoction of the glutinous roots is commonly administered as a painkiller for all sorts of pains as well as dysentery. A concoction of the bark and the leaves is used for respiratory ailments and other septic swellings of the skin. Pastes of the root and leaves can be applied to treat boils, swollen glands, wounds and sores. Steam baths from the bark are used to purify and improve the complexion. In East Africa, roots are used for treating snake bites. All of the above can be attributed to the peptide alkaloids and antifungal properties isolated from the bark and leaves.

            . Africans have many beliefs and superstitions attached to this tree. Zulus and Swazis use the buffalo thorn in connection with burial rites. It was once customary that when a Zulu chief died, the tree was planted on his grave as a reminder or symbol of where the chief lies. Hence the name umLahlankosi— that which buries the chief. A twig from the tree was and is still used to attract and carry the spirit of the deceased from the place of death to the new resting place. When a stock owner died, and was buried according to custom, within the cattle or goat kraal, some branches were placed on the grave so that the animals nibbled on leaves and twigs, and so understood that their master had died. In other parts, Africans drag a branch round the village to protect it from evil spirits, as it is believed to keep evil spirits away.

 Ripe fruits of wag n bietjie tree

            In Botswana as well as most parts of South Africa, the residents believed the buffalo thorn to be immune against lightning, anyone standing under one in a storm would be safe. It is also believed that if it is felled in summer, a drought, hail or lightning will certainly follow.

            Wood from this tree is used for timber; wagon making and fence posts as it yields a yellow, fine-grained, heavy wood which contains 12.2–15.7% tanning matter. The elasticity of the shoots makes it suitable for bows and whip sticks. Some African tribes use the thorny branches to make kraals or hedges. This protects their livestock from lions and other predators.


The species is very easily raised from seed or cuttings, growing in just about any soil type and withstanding heat and cold equally well.

            The seed however has poor keeping properties and should be sown fresh. After cleaning the nut, it can be placed between the jaws of a vice or a normal nutcracker and closed gradually until the nut cracks and seed is released. The seeds can then be covered with hot water, allowed to cool, soaked for two days and sown.

            Seedlings should appear within one to two weeks. Seedlings and small plants need moderate water, full sun and efficient drainage or they will damp off. Even though this plant is said to be one of the most adaptable trees, growing in all types of soil and having the ability to withstand intense heat, cold and drought, the same cannot be said for the seedlings. As with most plants, immunity is acquired with increased stature. Small trees are often available at nurseries selling indigenous plants.

            While slow-growing (0.3 m or less per annum), it makes a pleasant shade tree and gives life to the garden by luring birds and insects such as butterflies, beetles and bees.

Boroi_Ziziphus mauritiana

By parmarch28/12/20180

(Ziziphus mauritiana)

A tree of boroi


English Name: Indian plum

Boroi is a tropical fruit tree species, belonging to the family Rhamnaceae. It is most commonly found in the tropical and sub-tropical regions. Originally native to India it is now widely naturalized in tropical region from Africa to Afghanistan and China, and also through Malaysia and into Australia and in some Pacific regions. It can form dense stands and become invasive in some areas, including Fiji and Australia and has become a serious environmental weed in Northern Australia.


Boroi is a medium sized tree that grows vigorously and has a rapidly developing taproot, a necessary adaptation to drought conditions. The species varies widely in height, from a bushy shrub 1.5 to 2 m tall, to a tree 10 to 12 m tall with a trunk diameter of about 30 cm. The fruit is a soft, juicy, drupe that is 2.5 cm diameter though with sophisticated cultivation the fruit has of size

Interior of the boroi tree

 6.25 cm in length and 4.5 cm in width. The form may be oval, obovate, round or oblong; the skin smooth or rough, glossy, thin but tough. The leaves are about 2.5 to 3.2 cm long and 1.8 to 3.8 cm wide having fine tooth at margin. It is dark-green and glossy on the upper side and pubescent and pale-green to grey-green on the lower side. Depending on the climate, the foliage of the Indian jujube may be evergreen or deciduous.

Spacing and fertilizer requirements

For orchard establishment recommended spacing is 7 x 7 m or 8 x 8 m. The wider spacing is preferred in areas with high rainfall where canopy development is vigorous. Many studies in India recommend the application of both farmyard manure and commercial fertilizers to maximum production.

Boroi foliage

 Season and Harvesting:

In India the trees flower in July to October and fruits are formed soon after. In February-March the fruits are mature. The fruits remaining on the tree are shaken down. Only fully mature fruits are picked directly from the tree.

Boroi fruits

Medicinal Uses:

Common people believed that the fruit has the power reducing stress. The fruit also very soothing to the throat and decoctions of jujube have often been used in pharmacy to treat sore throats.


The fruit is eaten raw or pickled or used in beverages. It is quite nutritious and rich in vitamin C. Ripe fruits are preserved by sun-drying and a powder is prepared for out-of-season purposes. It contains 20 to 30% sugar, up to 2.5% protein and 12.8% carbohydrates. Fruits are also eaten in other forms, such as dried, candied, pickled, as juice, or as ber butter.

 Dried fruits of boroi

 Pests and diseases:

A leaf-eating caterpillar and the green slug caterpillar attack the foliage. Mites forms scale-like galls on twigs retarding growth and reducing the fruit crop. Lesser pests include a small caterpillar, Meridarches scyrodes, which bores into the fruit. In storage, the fruits may be spotted by the fungi. Fruit rots are caused by Fusarium spp., Nigrospora oryzae, Epicoccum nigrum, and Glomerella cingulata.

Input from:

Sukanta Sarkar
ICFAI UniversityAgartala, Tripura 799001 INDIA

WILD BER – HIMALAYAN_Zizyphus jujuba

By parmarch28/12/20180

(Zizyphus jujuba) 

Fruits of wild Himalayan ber

Synonyms: Zizyphus sativa, Zizyphus vulgaris

Family: Rhamnaceae

Indian names: ber (Himachal Pradesh); pitni, ber, kandika, kandiari, singli, ban ber (Hindi); bari, konkamber, phitni (Kashmir); ranbor, uneb (Maharashtra); amlai, singli, simli, barari (Punjab).

Wild ber is a plant of very common occurrence. It grows wild in forests and also on wastelands throughout the mid-hills up to elevations of 1,400 metres. The small acidic fruits are liked by children as well as by adults.


A small spreading tree, with drooping branches; height, 5 to 8 metres; trunk girth, 85 cm; bark, rough, gray or dull black, irregularly cracked, covered with a thick layer of green moss in the case of older trees and, thus, looking green; branches, bearing at each node two spines, which are modified stipules; one spine is curved and the other is straight.

            Leaves, ovate, petiolate (petiole, 5 mm long), having very fine serration, 3.8 cm long, 2.9 cm broad, dark green and shining from above, white tomentose from beneath; venation, palmate convergent.

            Flowers, bisexual, hermaphrodite, cyclic, yellowish green; inflorescence, an axillary cyme, bearing flowers in a crowded manner; calyx, polysepalous, with 5 sepals, actinomorphic, greenish yellow, 2 mm long; corolla, polypetalous, with 5 petals, actinomorphic, white, 1.5 to 2 cm long; androecium, polyandrous, with 5 stamens, white, 1.5 to 2 cm long; gynoecium with two carpels, which are fused at the base, 1 to 2 mm long.

            Fruits, oblong, 1.3 cm in diameter, 1.45 g in weight, 1.05 ml in volume, colour marsh orange 013/1; pulp, Indian yellow 6/3.

            Seeds, wrinkled, stony, 419 mg in weight; volume, 410 microlitres; 1 seed per fruit.

The flowering and fruiting season

The flowering season was observed to range from the first week of June to the first week of July at Sanwara and in the adjoining areas. Similarly, the fruiting season was observed to be from the first week to the last week of December.


The average yield of this species was recorded to be 9.5 kg per tree.

Chemical composition of the fruit

The fruits contain 68.0 per cent moisture. Their pulp contains, 3.92 per cent acidity, 8.68 per cent total sugars, 6.73 per cent reducing sugars, 1.85 per cent non-reducing sugars, 1.72 per cent pectin, and 1.32 per cent tannins. The vitamin C content of this fruit is 2.56 mg per 100 g of pulp.

            The total mineral content of the fruit pulp, as represented by its ash, is 1.38 per cent. The protein content of the pulp is 2.56 per cent. Some of the mineral elements in the fruit pulp, viz. phosphorus. Potassium, calcium, magnesium and iron are 0.069, 0.583, 0.083, 0.065 and 0.006 per cent respectively.

Medicinal properties

The fruits have emollient and expectorant properties.  They are also considered to be cooling and an anodyne and a tonic. They are employed as an antidote to aconite poisoning and are recommended in nausea and vomiting. They are also prescribed in abdominal pain during pregnancy. They are used externally in poultices and are applied to wounds (Anon., 1976).

            The leaves are laxative and prescribed in scabies and throat troubles (Anon., 1976).

Dessert quality

The small round fruits are acidic and poor in quality. They are, however, eaten by poor people, especially during scarcity.


These fruits are eaten by villagers. The wood of this plant is very hard and durable and is used in making agricultural implements. The leaves of this plant are used as a fodder for sheep and goats.

LARGE SOURPLUM_Ximenia caffra

By parmarch28/12/20180

(Ximenia caffra)

A wild growing tree of large sourplum

Family: Olacaceae

Other names: grootsuurpruim, umThunduluka-obmvu, morokologa.

The large sourplum is a small tree or shrub from Africa bearing edible fruits having many traditional uses.  This tree is found in woodlands and grasslands and on rocky outcrops and sometimes on termites mounds. It occurs from Tanzania to South Africa.

A fruit of large sourplum


Large sourplum is a deciduous tree up to 6 m tall with an untidy open crown. The bark is dark grey and rough, but pale green or brown on younger branches. Branchlets are spine-tipped. Sapwood is white and heartwood is hard and reddish brown. The root system is non aggressive.

            The leathery, dark green leaves are often in clusters (fascicles) on short spur branchlets. They are simple, 60 x 25 mm.

Leaves and flowers of large sourplum

            The flowers are small, sweet-scented and creamy green and borne from August to October in single stem clusters in the axils of the spines or on the dwarf branchlets.

            Fruit is a drupe, thinly fleshy, oval, attractive, which is 25 mm long, glossy deep red with white spots. These are edible, tart but and are relished by people. The single large seed inside contains Ximenia oil which has several uses.


Fruits have a refreshing sour taste, best eaten when slightly overripe.  These have high vitamin C content and are also is high in potassium and contains protein too. The fruits are also used for making jam, dessert and jelly. They can be added to porridge.

            The seed contains 65% oil. Oil from the seed is used to soften human skins and for softening animal hides. It is also used for lamps. The nuts are also eaten.

Medicinal uses:

            A decoction from the leaves is used as a wash to soothe inflamed eyes. Infusions of the roots are used as a remedy for dysentery and diarrhoea and together with the leaves are taken for abdominal pain and bilharziasis. Powdered roots are applied to sores to speed up healing; used in soup, and in beer as an aphrodisiac. Powdered dried leaves are taken orally for fever and infertility, and extracts of the leaves are used as a gargle for tonsillitis, and as a vermifuge. Porridge is made using a decoction of the roots, and eaten once a day for nausea in pregnancy; the root decoction is also taken for infertility.


Sour plum is not cultivated for its fruits.  It is, however, planted in gardens as a bush clump or as part of a boundary screen.

            Sour plum can easily grown from fresh seed with a mixture of river sand and compost (5:1). The seeds germinate after 14-30 days and transplanting should take place when the seedlings reach the two-leaf stage. This plant is partly parasitic, and will grow better once in the ground where it can make contact with other plant roots. The growth rate is moderate, up to 0.5 m per year, it can withstand moderate frost and it is drought resistant, but needs sun.


Joseph K. Baloyi and Yvonne Reynolds
Pretoria National Botanical Garden,
South Africa

AKAR KUBAL SUSU_Willughbeia sarawakensis

By parmarch28/12/20180

(Willughbeia sarawakensis)

Akar kubal susu fruits

Family: Apocynaceae

Akar kubal susu is believed to be a native of Borneo.  It has very tasty fruits which are also offered foor sale in local markets.  But akar_kubal_susu is known  very little outside Indonesia. Its fruits are very tasty and are very fondly eaten by local people.  These are also offered for sale 

            This is one of those fruits which have potential for development as a viable new orchard crop.


A large, vigorous climber. 


The fruits are very tasty and liked very much by local people.  The famous tropical fruit specialist, William (Bill) Whitman rated this fruit as one of the finest fruits in the world.


New plants of this wild growing fruits can be raised from seed.  Indications from trials carried out so far are that this fruit is not at all difficult to domesticate.

WILLUGHBEIA_Willughbeia elmerii

By parmarch28/12/20180

Willughbeia elmerii)

 A willubheia fruit on tree

Family: Apocynaceae

Willughbeia grows in the rainforests of Borneo.  Though it is not known much outside its native region, yet it has quite unique features.  It bears tasty edible fruits which can at times be as large as 1 kg.


A giant climber climbing trees in the forests.

            Fruits large, upto 1 kg, brown, pulp creamy white, sweet tart, taste very good.


Willughbeia fruits are very delicious and are eaten fresh.  These are very sweet and the taste can be compared to sweet tart candies.

Cut fruits of willughbeia showing rind and the edible pulp

            These are also offered for sale in small town markets of Borneo.


Willughbeia is propagated from seed.  The vines, when grown in field, will certainly require support for growth.

            Willughbeia should be promoted for domestication.

GEDRAPHOL_Willughbeia edulis

By parmarch28/12/20180

(Willughbeia edulis)

A plant of gedraphol

Family: Apocynaceae

Other names: Chittagong rubber, luti aam.

Gedraphol is found in the north eastern part of India, the region which is adjacent to Myyanmar. 


A woody climber, with long hooked tendrils.

Flowers fragrant. 

 A gedraphol fruit on tree

Fruits yellow or red, 5.0 – 7.5 cm long and 3.8-5.6 cm wide, resembling small mangoes, edible.


Gedraphol fruits taste pleasantly acid and are popularly eaten by local people.

Gedraphol fruits

            This plant yields a cautchouc which contains about25-27 per cent rubber.  The cautchouc also yields 55-85 per cent resin.


Gedraphol vines are sometimes planted around homes by local people.  New plants are raised from seed.

BORNEO RUBBER_Willughbeia coriacea

By parmarch28/12/20180

(Willughbeia coriacea)

Borneo rubber  

Family:  Apocynaceae

Synonyms: Willughbeia firma

Borneo rubber grows wild in South Thailand, Malay Peninsula, Java and Sumatra, Borneo etc.  It bears very good quality fruits which are popularly eaten by local people.


A woody climber.

            Fruits light orange.

Fruits of Borneo rubber


The fruits are edible and eaten fresh.  These are very pleasant to eat.

            The plant yields a cautchouc which is collected by local people.  This cautchouc, however, inferior to that obtained from Hevea trees and therefore does not have much demand.


Borneo rubber plants can be raised from seed.  These are very prolific bearers.  One can sometimes see a vine bearing hundreds of fruits at different stages of development.

GRAPE_Vitis vinifera

By parmarch28/12/20180

(Vitis vinifera)

A grape vineyard

Grape is one of the oldest fruits being grown by man. However, it was introduced into north India from Iran and Afghanistan in 1300 AD by the Muslim invaders; and into south India in 1832 by the Christian missionaries from France.  Grape was well known to people even in ancient India but it was not commercially cultivated until the 14th century. Wild grapes grown in the North West Indian state of Himachal Pradesh were used to prepare local wine.

            Presently grape cultivation is concentrated in the peninsular India, accounting for 90% of the total area. Major grape-growing states are Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and the north-western region covering Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, western Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.


            Temperature, humidity and light are important for grapes. Hot and dry climate is ideal. Areas with high rainfall are not suitable. The climate requirements of vinifera are different from those of labrusca grapes.

            Mild temperature, not exceeding 35 C in summers, impairs the fruiting of vinifera grapes, particularly, in Thompson Seedless. Higher night temperatures (above 25 C) during ripening hamper the colour development in coloured grapes. Cool nights and hot days even though congenial for coloured grapes, pink pigmentation development in green grapes if the diurnal differences are more than 20 C during ripening.

            Under high humid conditions, the vines put forth excessive vegetative growth at the expense of fruiting. Berries do not ripen properly. Disease incidence is high. The total amount of rainfall is not the criterion, but the timing frequency and duration of rainfall are important considerations for grape cultivation. Rains associated with cloudy weather and poor sunlight during 45-60 days after back pruning in the tropical India reduce the fruitful buds in a vine. Rainfall during flowering and berry ripening cause enormous damage to gapes. If rains coincide with flowering, the panicles are destroyed by downy mildew. Rains during ripening cause berry cracking and rotting.

            Grapes are grown on a variety of soils in India, alluvial in north, heavy black clay in Maharashtra and north Karnataka, red loam in southern Karnataka and Tamil Nadu and very light sandy locally called ‘Chalka’ soils in Andhra Pradesh. Soil with good drainage and water-holding capacity in a pH range of 6.5-7.5 is ideally-suited for grapes. Presence of excess salts, particularly sodium and free calcium is detrimental for grapes. Vines become weak and their productive life span is reduced. The electrical conductivity of the saturated extract of soil should be less than 4mimos/cm; its exchangeable sodium content should be less than 15%. When the soil contains more free calcium than 12%, vines suffer from iron deficiency and the soil gradually becomes sodic. High content of sodium in soil poses drainage problems and the root growth is impaired. Soil of Maharashtra, Haryana and Punjab are saline-alkali. Free calcium content is also high in soils of Maharashtra.


            More than 20 varieties are under cultivation. However, only a dozen are commercially grown. They can be grouped under 4 categories based on colour and seeds.

They are:

Coloured – seededBangalore Blue (Muscat) 
Coloured – seedless Beauty Seedless and Sharad Seedless
White – seeded Anab-e Shahi, Dilkhush (clone of Anab-e Shahi
White – seedlessPerlette, Pusa Seedless, Thompson Seedless, andIts clones Tas-A-Ganesh, Sonaka andManik Chaman

            Currently, Thompson Seedless is the ruling grape, occupying 55% of the area with its clones. Bangalore Blue occupies approximately 15% of the total area while Anab-e-Shahi and Dilkhush (15%), Sharad Seedless (5%), Perlette (5%) and Gulabi and Bhokri together (5%).


Grape is mostly propagated by hardwood stem cuttings. Four-noded cuttings fromWell mature canes on proven vines are made. The diameter of cuttings should be 8-10mm. Cutting are mostly obtained from October pruning in the peninsula. Rooting of cuttings is not a problem. However, Thompson Seedless roots are poorer than Anab-e-Shahi or Bangalore Blue. To increase the rooting of stem cuttings, they should either be soaked or dipped to cover the basal buds in IBA solution. For overnight soaking, 500 ppm IBA solution is used, while 2000 ppm solution is used for quick dipping for 10sec. before planting the cuttings. Quick dip method is preferred. Cutting after treating with IBA should be planted in the nursery or directly in the field.

            Cuttings are planted in nursery either in beds or polybags for rooting. The beds or polybags should be under partial shade. The rooting media should have 30-405 well-decomposed cattle manure to retain moisture and similar proportion of sand to provide drainage. The beds or rooting medium should be treated with Chloropyriphos or Furadan granules to prevent termite damage. Light frequent watering is to be given to the cuttings.

A bunch of grapes ready for harvesting

            For planting in field, 3-4 cutting should be plated at each spot. Cuttings are covered with green twigs to provide shade. After rooting, one good cutting is retained at each spot. Gap filling should also be done at this stage.

            Rootstocks are employed for grapes to overcome salinity, nematode damage and to impart vigour to vines. In normal soils with good and adequate water for irrigation, rootstock is not necessary. In nematode-prone soils, the rootstock 1613 can be used for Anab-e-Shahi or Thompson Seedless. In saline soils, Dog ridge is better. Use of Dog ridge in non-saline, nematode-free soils, particularly under mild climatic conditions makes the vines barren by imparting excess vigour.



            Before plating the rooted/UN rooted cuttings in the main field, the land is cleared of all bushes and leveled. Trenches or pit 1m wide and 75 cm deep are opened. When plant spacing within a row is less than 2m, continuous trenches are made. The pits/trenches are filled with farmyard manure, green manure/leaf-mould, bone-meal (1kg), super phosphate (1kg) and allowed to settle by watering. Cuttings are planted in their position by opening a small pit. A mixture of sand, well-rotten manure and super phosphate (0.5kg) is packed around the cutting in the pit. The soil around the planted cuttings is drenched with a solution of Chlorpyriphos.

            October is ideal time for planting the unrooted cuttings directly in the field. Rooted cuttings are planted in January-February. When rootstock plants are planted, budding or grafting is done in July-August. Either chip budding or wedge grafting is employed. Wedge grafting is better.

            Spacing of vines depends on the variety, vigour of vines and system of training Generally Anab-e-Shahi and Dilkhush vines are spaced at 3.3, x 6.6m or 5.0m x 5.0m. The spacing of vines of seedlings varieties varies from 1.2m to 2.0m within a row and 2.7 to 3.6m between rows when trained to ‘T’ or ‘Y’ trellis. For Thompson Seedless, the spacing of 1.8m x 3.0m is ideal for bower and ‘Y’ trellies trained vines respectively.

Training and pruning

            Different systems of training-head, kniffin, telephone, V, expanded Y and gable-are in vogue in India. Productive potential of vines is better exploited on bower than on any other system of training. But this system is expensive, encourages diseases, and is not suitable for mechanization of cultural operations. On head, Kniffin and telephone systems of training not only the yields are low but the fruits are exposed to sun resulting in sun-burn, but the yield is the same. The expanded Y with long arms and gable system connecting the side arms of adjacent rows are best-suited for training seedless grapes,since these systems posses the advantages of bower and at the same time do not have disadvantages associated with it.

            In north India, vines are pruned in winter (December-January). Half of the canes are pruned to renew spurs and the rest for fruiting canes. One or two buds from the cordon (arm) are retained in renewed at spurs and 12 buds are retained on fruiting canes. The numbers of buds left on fruiting canes depend on variety and thickness of cane. Thick canes are pruned longer and the thin shorter. The fruited canes are pruned to renewal spurs and the canes developed from renewal spurs are pruned to fruiting canes in the next winter.

            In Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and north Karnataka, vines are pruned twice (April and October). The April pruning is generally termed as back pruning or foundation pruning. While October pruning is called fruit pruning or forward pruning. All the canes are pruned to spurs at back pruning, irrespective of the variety or cane thickness. The number of buds retained on a cane at forward pruning depends on variety and cane thickness.

Manuring and fertilization

The nutrient status of vines is far in excess than required leading to certain nutrient imbalances, particularly Mg deficiency as a result of heavy doses of K.

            Grape requires more K than N which in turn is required more than P. However, P is required at the time of fruit-bud formation when N requirements are less. The N is required more for shoot growth during the fruiting season. Whereas K is required after bud differentiation for shoot maturity and increasing the size of fruit-bud. It is also required after berry set until ripening. The annual schedule for manuring grape plants is given in Table 1.

            More P and less K are required in Maharashtra and north Karnataka for Thompson Seedless grape, as the soils of this region are rich in k and fix more P. the doses are adjusted by regularly monitoring the petiole nutrient contents.

            Petioles of leaves at fifth node from base are sample on 45th day after black pruning, while those of leaves opposite to flower clusters at full bloom are sampled after October pruning in south India. It is better to sample on 45th day after back pruning. However in north India, sampling is done only at full bloom. The optimum petiole nutrient contents on percentage dry weight basis are given in Table2.

Table1. Manurial schedule for grape

VarietyDoses of nutrients (kg/ha)
Anab-e-Shahi and other seeded grapesAprilMayJuneOctoberNovemberDecemberJanuary
ThompsonSeedless and other seedless grapesAprilMayJuneOctoberNovemberDecemberJanuary
Perlette and other seedless grapes in north IndiaFebruaryMarchAprilMay   

Table2. Petiole nutrient content (dry weight basis)

Thompson seedless1.0-1.50.4-0.61.5-2.50.4-0.6

Nutrient application in the subsequent years should be based on these petiole nutrient standards.

            Heavy dose of cattle manure is applied to improve soil structure and to increase its moisture-holding capacity. About 25-50 tonnes of well-decomposed cattle manure, 5 tonnes of oil cake (deoiled) and 1,200 kg of organic mixture should be applied every in a hectare crop. When such organic nutrients are applied, the inorganic doses are proportionately reduced.

            Among the nutrient deficiencies, Mg deficiency is universal. About 100-200 kg of magnesium sulphate/ha/year should be applied depending upon the severity of its deficiency. While 50 kg is applied after 30 days of April pruning, the rest is applied in 2 splits during the fruiting season once at berry set and again after a month. Magnesium is t b applied to soil at least one week prior to potash application to increase its uptake.

            Iron deficiency is very common in black soils. Foliar application of 0.2% ferrous sulphate solution or chlelated iron compound is recommended. Although all soils in India are deficient in Zn, its deficiency in the plant is not observed.


Grape is a shallow feeder. Light and frequent watering is better for grapes. Water requirement of grape are very high during berry growth. This period coinciding with hot and dry weather, more water is required at this stage. Least water is required during fruit-bud formation. This period if coincides with cloudy weather and rains, watering are totally to be stopped. Reduced irrigation during ripening, i.e. (one month prior to harvesting) improve the quality of grapes and hastens ripening. Too much stress during ripening can also increase the berry drop at and after harvesting.

            Currently due to the shortage of water, grapes are irrigated through drips. The number of drippers/vine and their placement are very crucial in drip irrigation. The active feeder root zone is to be wetted by the water discharged through the emitters. Since the wetted pattern is more horizontal than vertical in clay soils but more vertical than horizontal in sandy soils, more emitters with low discharge rate for longer duration are advisable to get good results with drip irrigation in sandy soils. Inadequate wetting of root zone reduces shoot vigour and weakens the vines. Gradually they develop deadwood and go barren 7-8 years after planting.

            The quantity of water to let through drip irrigation daily depends not only on the stage of growth of the vine but also the evapotranspiration in a vineyard. Putting these two factors together the water requirement of grapes through drips is given in Table3.

Table3. Water requirement of grape through drip irrigation

Stage of growthWater required/ha (litres/day)
1-40 days after summer pruning 48,000-60,000
41-100 days after summer pruning 24,000-32,000
101 days after summer pruning to winter pruning15,000-20,000
1-45 days after winter pruning 20,000-24,000
46-75 days after winter pruning 16,000-20,000
76-100 days after winter pruning 48,000-60,000
111 days after winter pruning until harvesting36,000-48,000
After harvesting untill summer pruning 20,000-24,000

            Grape is sensitive to chlorides and total salts content in irrigation water. Water with electrical conductivity of less than 1mmhos/cm, chlorides less than 4m.e/litre, sodium adsorption ratio less than 8.0, residual sodium carbonate less than 1.25 m.e/litre and boron less than 1.0 mg/kg is considered safe for irrigation grapes.

            Raising a bund of loose soil to a height of 1’ along the vine rows and mulching the soil around the drip zone by sugarcane trash or paddy straw can conserve the soil moisture and save irrigation water.

Weed control

Farmyard manure and compost are the major sources of weed seeds from outside. The problematic weeds in vineyards are Bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon) and nut grass (Cyperus rotundus). The weed intensity is less in bower trained vineyards.

            Mechanical control is most common means of weed control in India. Dhaincha and sun hemp are grown as intercrops to check the weeds in vineyards trained to T, V or Y trellises. Post-emergent weedicides-Paraquat (7.5 kg/ha) or Glyphosate (2.0 kg/ha), is also recommended. Glyphosate offers a long time control of weeds as compared to Paraquat.

Use of growth regulations

Growth regulators- CCC, GA and hydrogen cyanamide-are being used commercially in grapes. The CCC is used t suppress the vigour of vines and increase the fruitfulness of buds. It is sprayed at 500 ppm concentration at 5-leaf stage after back pruning. If weather is cloudy, cool and rainy, it is sprayed on the foliage once again at 10-leaf stage. Gibberallic acid (GA) is used invariably in all seedless varieties. It is sprayed at 10 ppm to elongate the clusters, 22-25 days after forward pruning (4-5_leaf stag). It is also sprayed on clusters @ 40 ppm at 50% bloom stage for thinning the berries. For increasing the berry size, the clusters are dipped in 60ppm GA alone or in a mixture of GA  (30 ppm) it 10 ppm BA  2 ppm CPPU at pearl millet or bajra grain-size berries and again at red gram sexed berries.  Care must be taken not to treat the Custers with GA before bajra grain-sized berries. Otherwise, berries of uneven size form a cluster. For increasing berry size, vines are girdled. Girdling is a process of removing 2-3 mm wide strip of bark around the stem without injuring the wood. This is also to be dot at the bajra grain-sized berries.

            Hydrogen cyanamide is used to hasten and increase the bud-break at winter pruning. Buds are swabbed with cotton soaked in 1.5% solution of hydrogen an amide 48 hr after pruning/ Hastening the bud-break with hydrogen cyamide also hastens the ripening of grapes in the north. Thiourea (4.0%) mixed with 1% Bordeaux mixture is also used to increase bud-break in south.


Grapes are harvested when fully ripe, since they do not ripen after harvesting. In seeded grapes, the seeds become dark brown when they are fully ripe, while in seedless varieties, their characteristic berry colour develops fully.

      The yield potential of grape in India is highest in the world. Grape variety Anab-e-Shahi has recorded yield as high as 92 tonnes/ha, whereas Thompson Seedless has 48 tonnes/ha. The average yield o Anab-e-Shahi and Bangalore Blue is 40-50 tonnes/ha, while that of seedless varieties is 20 tonnes/ha.

      Grapes should be harvested during cool time of the day. Harvested grapes are trimmed, graded and packed. For local market, grapes are packed in bamboo strip baskets using newspaper and grape leaves as cushioning material. One basket contains 6kg of grapes. For distant markets (within the country), wood or corrugated cardboard boxes are used for packing. Old newspapers, hay and paper shreds are used as cushioning material. The size if packing is 6 or 8kg in wood boxes, and 2 or 4kg in cardboard boxes. Transport of grapes is mainly by trucks. Grapes are exported to middle-east, Europe and south Asian countries. Grapes are packed in ventilated cardboard boxes using dual release sulphur dioxide releasing pads (grape guard) as an in packing material to check the postharvest diseases during transit and storage. Strict cold chain is maintained right from harvesting by precooling and cold storage. Boxes are stored at o -1 C temperature and 90%-95% relative humidity in cold storage. They are transported by sea in refrigerated containers.

      Most of the grapes produced in India, irrespective by variety, are consumed fresh. Negligible quantities of Bangalore Blue are crushed to make juice and wine for household consumption. Wine is also produced in India with French collaboration by some private industries growing certain French varieties.

      Raisins are the only processed products in India. Approximately 30% of seedless grapes are dried to produce 15,000 tonnes of raisin. Golden bleached raisins are produced by shade drying the clusters after dipping in either boiling solution of sodium hydroxide (0.2-0.3%) and exposing to sulphur fumes. Dipping in soda oil (dipping oil) containing ethyl oleate and potassium carbonate and shade drying is the most common method of preparing raisins in India.

      Seeded grapes of Anab-e-Shahi are also dried in very small quantities to make raisins.


Of physiological disorders, uneven ripening, post-harvest berry drop, flower-bud and flower drop and pink berry formation are major ones.

Uneven ripening

Presence of green berries in a ripe bunch of coloured grapes is called uneven ripening. It is varietal character and a problem in Bangalore Blue, Bangalore Purple, Beauty Seedless and Gulabi grapes. Within a variety this problem varies from bunch-to-bunch. Generally inadequate leaf area and non-availability of reserves to a developing bunch is the reason. Cultural practices like cluster thinning, girdling and use of growth regulators can reduce uneven ripening. Application of Ethephon (250 ppm) at colourbreak stage is recommended to reduce the problem.

Postharvest berry drop

This is due to weak pedicel attachment to the berries. This is common in Anab-e-Shahi, Cheema Sahebi and Beauty Seedless. Spraying of NAA (50 ppm), a week prior to harvesting can minimize the post-harvest berry drop.  

Flower-bud and flower drop

When panicles are fully expanded, the flower-buds drop before the fruit set. This is common in north India but not in the south. The reasons for this disorder are not known. Stem girdling about 10 days prior to full bloom can reduce and problem.

Pink berry formation

It is a common disorder in Thompson Seedless and its clone Tas-A-Ganesh in Maharashtra. Pink blush develops on a few ripe berries close to harvesting. The pink colour turns to dull red colour and the berries become soft and watery. They do not stand for long after harvesting. Although the definite cause of the disorder is not known, it is recommended to spray a mixture of 0.2% ascorbic acid and 0.25% sodium diethyl dithiocarbamate at fortnightly intervals commencing berry softening.


Dr. S.D. Shikhamany
National Research Centre for Grapes
Solapur Road, Pune 412307 

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