Loquat trees make excellent additions to Florida Landscapes.

Loquat trees make excellent additions to Florida Landscapes.  The trees are well-shaped evergreens that are easy to care for.  During winter, when many trees are in a semi dormant state, loquat trees begin to bear edible fruit.

If your home site would benefit from one or more flowering fruit trees, that retain an attractive appearance year-round plant some loquats.

Loquat trees are relatively small, reaching a height of only 25 feet when full grown.  Their leaves grow up to a foot long, and have a fuzzy texture when young, becoming smooth and waxy as they mature.  Loquat fruit are oval-shaped, about one or two inches long and dull yellow in color.  Most loquats bear fruit regularly, and often quite heavily.

Loquats may be grown in three ways, from seeds, rooted cutting, and as budded trees.  They are easy to grow from seeds, but seeds grown trees wonít produce superior fruit varieties, and may take years to bear at all.  The best fruit comes from loquats that are vegetatively propagated.  Two ways this is done in Florida are shield budding, and grafting.

Loquat does best in subtropical climates.  But, mature trees can withstand temperatures are low as 10 degrees Fahrenheit without freeze damage.  However, the blooms are easily killed by frosts, which may reduce the quantity of fruit produced by trees in our area.

Loquats can be grown on any type of Florida soil, as long as itís well drained and free of salt.  Loquats need a good water supply to produce good quality fruit.  But, this must be carefully monitored.  Never flood a loquat with water.  This will quickly kill a tree.

Loquats need some fertilizer for best fruit production.  When the soil is shallow, itís a good idea to make three or four applications of fertilizer a year.  In deeper soil, one or two annual applications are adequate.  Any common 8-8-8 or 10-10-10 analysis with micronutrients added should be adequate.  For specific amounts and application dates, check with your local County Extension Office.

Regular pruning of loquat trees is not necessary, because they have naturally well-shaped, symmetrical crown.  However, occasional pruning may be needed to remove dead wood.  Also, if you notice that your loquat is producing very small fruit, pruning a few branches may help increase fruit size, by reducing the total number of fruit clusters on the tree.

For more information on growing loquat contact the Gulf County Extension Service at 639-3200 or visit our website:  http://gulf.ifas.ufl.edu or www.http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu and see Publication  H55 & ENH394.