Where to Start
The easiest way to keep your loquat three healthy with an organic care regimen is to prevent problems before they arise – and prevention means knowing your tree.
Know Before You Grow
Loquat trees grow in USDA plant hardiness zones 8 through 10. But they don’t bloom until fall or set fruit until late winter. And temperatures below 27°F (-2.8°C) kill their flowers or young fruit. So the chances of their producing a harvest drop considerably in zone 8, where the winter low can hit 10°F (-12.2C).
In other words, all the organic care in the world won’t get you a loquat harvest if your winter is too cold.
Where to Plant a Loquat Tree
If your loquat tree could speak, it would ask for a site with well-draining soil and six or more hours of daily sun. In places like Texas, where summer temperatures often exceed 100°F (37.8°C), it would also request afternoon shade. Prolonged high heat will slow its growth rate.
Other Soil Requirements
Loquats accept most soils. including rocky, limestone-rich ones, Only those that flood or contain lots of salt bother them. To fruit their best, however, they need organically rich, deep loam.
Runoff from loquats fertilized with chemical-based nitrogen can kill fish in nearby water. For an organic alternative, use 0-10-10 fish emulsion beginning two months after planting:
- Mix 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of the fish emulsion into 1 gallon (3.78 liters) of water. Each gallon covers 25 square feet of soil.
- Pour the solution into a spray applicator.
- Spray the leaves and pour what remains around the base of the tree.
- Water well.
- Reapply every three weeks through the growing season.
From the second year on, reduce the application to once per month.
Organic Pest and Disease Care
Whatever goes into a loquat tree goes into its fruit, including chemical pesticides and fungicides. These organic measures ensure a harvest that’s safe to enjoy.
Bug and Pest Control
Bag the developing fruit clusters to keep caterpillars and Caribbean fruit flies off them. Control sap-sucking scales and aphids with insecticidal soap spray. While the tree is still small, knock aphids off with a blast from the hose.
Fire Blight Management
Promptly prune fire blight-infected branches, cutting them back 12 inches below infected wood. Work on a dry day with no rain in the 48-hour forecast and disinfect your pruning tools in rubbing alcohol between cuts.
Follow up during winter dormancy by spraying with 2 tablespoons (60 ml) of neem oil in 1 gallon (3.78 liters) of water. Apply the oil from the soil line to the branch tips when the temperature is below 80°F (26.7°C).