At the time of chiku planting in the hole, just enough to combine the root ball of the grafted plant should be dug in the center of the pit. The chiku tree grafts are planted in the hole in such a way that the graft union remains just above the soil surface. The chiku tree grafting is staked immediately after planting to protect from strong winds. The young graft is protected from heat by erecting temporary shade covered with plastic sheets or grass.
The polythene strip used for securing the graft joint should be removed a month after planting Sapota so as to reduce mortality of the graft. The new sapota sprouts emerging on the rootstock below the graft joint should also be removed immediately.
Irrigation for Sapota plants:
Irrigation is provided at an interval of 30 days in winter and 15 days in summer season. This system has been found to be beneficial in saving 40 percent of water with 70-75 % higher income. This system is laid out with 2 drippers spaced 50 centimeters from the tree at an initial stage during the first two years and then 4 drippers about 1 meter away from the tree until it attains five years of age.
Inter-cultivation in Sapota Plant:
Intercropping with banana, pineapple and cocoa; french beans, papaya, peas, tomato, brinjal, cabbage, cauliflower, cucurbits is recommended depending upon the climate and irrigation facilities available.
Insect pests and diseases of Sapota plants:
Most common pests in Sapota Cultivation are Leaf Webber, hairy caterpillars and budworm Spraying with phosalone 35 EC (2 ml/l), chlorpyrifos 20 EC or endosulfan 35 EC have been found to be effective in controlling the pests. The main diseases reported are leaf spot (Phaeophleospora indica), heart rot (Phytophthora parasitica), base rot (Ceratocystis paradoxa) and anthracnose (Colletotrichum gloeosporioides). Application of Dithane M-45, copper oxychloride (3 g/l), have been found to be effective.
Manuring and Fertilization for Spota plants
The nutrient requirement of the Sapota plant is very high, as it is an evergreen tree in a continuous state of growth and fruiting. The fertilizer requirement of sapota varies from the age of the sapota tree and soil nutrient status. The recommended fertilizer schedule is as follows:
Under rainfed conditions, the nutrient application should be done on the onset of monsoon. However, under irrigated conditions, it should be applied in two splits.
The total quantity of organic manure fertilizer and half the dose of chemical fertilizers should be applied at the beginning of monsoon and the remaining half in the post-monsoon period (September-October). Since most of the active sapota roots are distributed within the depth of 30cm, nutrients should be applied under the tree canopy and mixed thoroughly in the soil.
Harvesting and the yield of Sapota crop:
Sapota starts bearing from the third year of planting but economic yields can be obtained from fifth year onwards. The two main seasons of flowering are February-March and October-November, and the two corresponding harvesting seasons are January-February and May-June. Sapota tree takes four months from flowering to maturity of fruits. The fruits are hand picked or harvested with a special harvester which has a round ring with a net bag fixed onto a long bamboo.
The sapota crop bearing commences from the fifth year. As such intercropping like vegetables may be taken up in the first four years of the project make it viable. In high-density sapota plantations, the production increases from 4 tonnes/acre in the fifth year to 6 tonnes/acre in the 7th year. Thereafter, the yield stabilizes at 8 tonnes/acre from 8th to 15th year.