By Joan Tous and Louise Ferguson
The loquat (Eriobotrya
is a small, evergreen tree native to central-eastern China, introduced
into Japan in very early times. In Europe it was planted in the 18th
century (Morton 1987). It is grown both as an ornamental and for its
fruit. The total world crop was estimated as 150,000 t. It has been
cultivated extensively in the Mediterranean basin (Spain, Algeria,
Turkey, Israel, and Italy), Japan and China, to some extent in India
and Brazil, and in a more limited fashion in Chile and the United
States. Spain is the world's largest producer (40,000 t) and exporter
of loquats, follow by Algeria (22,000 t), Japan (18,000 t), China, and
Brazil (Lupescu et al. 1980; Morton 1987; Llacer et al. 1994). The tree
grows best in a subtropical to warm-temperate climate. It does well on
a variety of soils but does best on clay loams with good drainage.
fruits, which are borne in large loose clusters, are commonly round,
oval, or pyriform and in the best cultivars may reach a length of 7 cm.
They vary in color from pale yellow to deep orange and have a tough
plumlike skin. The flesh is white to orange, firm or soft, juicy, and
flavorful. From 1 to 4 smooth, brown seeds are commonly found in each
fruit. The seeds comprise about 20% to 30% of the weight of the whole
fruit (Insero et al. 1990). Loquats are consumed largely as fresh
fruit, although small amounts are used in jams, jellies, syrups, and
pies (Shaw 1980). Loquats are high in vitamin A and minerals (Table 2).
For the fresh market they should not be picked before full maturity;
otherwise they are too acid. If properly handled they can be shipped to
Generally, the loquat tree blooms in the autumn
with fruits ripening in early spring (Apr.-May). They are normally
pollinated by bees, but some cultivars such as 'Akko 13' from Israel
and 'Golden Yellow' from India are not self-fertile, and others such as
'Advance' and 'Tanaka' are partially self-fertile. It has been observed
that cross-pollination generally results in 10% to 17% increased
production over self-pollination (Morton 1987). A list of important
cultivars are: 'Advance', 'Algerie', 'Akko 13', 'Champagne', 'Magdall',
'Premier', 'Saint Michel', 'Tanaka', 'Thales' (syn. 'Gold Nugget'),
etc. (Knight 1980; Morton 1987; Pathak and Gautam 1990).
tree requires a minimal pruning, but some thinning of fruits may be
required for optimum size. It is propagated mainly by budding or
grafting onto seedling rootstocks; quince root can be used if a dwarf
tree is desired. The tree comes into bearing in three to four years and
the yield in the new orchards is very high (25 t/ha, Blumenfeld 1994).
They are hand-harvested by clipping bunches of fruit and are sorted and
graded by hand. The most important problems cause damage to the fruit
rind, which downgrades fruit quality. In Europe two disorders damage
the fruit rinds (Caballero 1993): sunburn ('purple spot'), a
physiological disorder directly related to the calcium content in the
fruit tissues, and the fungal black spot (Fusicladium eriobotryae).
In California two diseases that sometimes create problems are
amylovora) and loquat scab (Spilocea pyracanthae)
(Ogawa and English 1991).
overall production is steadily increasing. Several countries, such as
Spain, Brazil, and India, are expected to increase commercial plantings
of this crop. An interesting commercial aspect of loquat is that it
ripens in early spring before other fruits (cherries, apricots,
peaches, and plums) appear in the market. The most important problems
(physiological and disease) result in a damaged fruit rind, which
downgrades the fruit quality. Also, there is a need to reduce the labor
costs of hand thinning and manual harvesting.
recent years, perhaps because of the crises that many agricultural
sectors have experienced, and because of the need for new crop
alternatives, and also for health reasons, interest has developed in
traditional Mediterranean fruits. At present, olives, mandarins, figs,
persimmons, and pistachios are receiving more research interest than
other Mediterranean crops because these crops are sufficiently
extensive and profitable enough to support university based research.
As long as these crops continue to be profitable money for research
support and market development will be available. However, the minor
crops such as pomegranates, cactus pear, carob, and loquat do not have
organized industries to support their research and market development.
It now falls to nascent industry organizations, rare fruit grower
associations, national agricultural services and individuals to develop
these crops until they become more popular. Information about these
less popular "new" crops is available online through such World Wide
Web (WWW) home pages as the University of California Fruit and Nut Crop
Research and Information Center and NewCROP (New Crop Resource Online
Program) developed by Purdue University in Indiana.
||Ascorbic acid (mg)
|Olive (ripe pulp)
|Cactus pear (fruit pulp)
Table 2. Nutritional composition of Mediterranean crops (per 100 g of edible
portion). Source: Goulart (1980); Sawaya et al. (1983); Fernandez Diez
(1983); IBPGR (1986); Morton (1987); Cantwell (1994).
Mediterranean Diet Pyramid was co-developed and jointly released in
1994 by Oldways Preservation & Exchange Trust, the World Health
Organization (WHO) European Regional Office, and the WHO/FAO
Collaboration Center in Nutritional Epidemiology at Harvard School of
Last update August 22, 1997 aw
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