AGRICULTURE AND IRRIGATION
The common fruits grown in the district are banana, grape, sweet orange, mango, sour-lime, pomegranate, guava, etc. They occupied an area of 3,002 acres in 1967-68 in the district. Table No. 18 gives the
area under fruits in the district during the period 1961-62, 1964-65 and 1967-68.
Banana: Banana (kele) is a popular fruit and is grown throughout the district. It occupied an area of 1,033 acres in 1967-68, accounting for 34.4 per cent of the area under fruits in the district It is grown in good garden medium black soil. The field is required to be thoroughly ploughed, pulverised and harrowed. It is then manured. Bold seedlings (suckers) are planted in June-July. Spacing of the crop depends on the different varieties. After planting two harrowings are given to remove weeds. Irrigation beds are repaired three times during the life of the crop. The crop requires frequent irrigation, viz-, twice a week in the dry season. Top dressing of oil-cake and ammonium sulphate is given in two doses in the fourth and seventh months respectively alongwith which earthing up is also done. The plants mature after about twelve months. Banana is harvested when the fruits get rounded and the dry petals drop off the fruit. By artificial heating uniform colour could be obtained. There are many varieties of banana grown in this district and they are named according to the size, shape and colour of the fruit. The varieties grown are Basrai, Harichal, Mutheli, etc.
Grape : Grape (draksha) is grown in the district excepting Mangalwedha and Akkalkot talukas. It occupied an area of 401 acres in 1967-68. North Sholapur and Malshiras talukas together accounted for 272 acres of the total area under the grape crop in 1967-68. The vine is propagated by cuttings which are planted in the month of October and are transplanted in the month of January. The distance between two vines varies from eight to ten feet. The vines are trained on wire trellis. They begin to bear fruits two years after planting. The grape-vines are pruned twice during the year, i.e., in April and October. The vines growing after the October pruning bear sweet fruits in the months of February and March. The vines are manured with cow-dung manure and groundnut-cake after the April pruning. They yield another crop during the months of July and August, but the berries remain sour, and as such they are of no commercial value. Irrigation is given regularly except during the rains. Repeated sprayings with Bordeaux mixture and dusting with sulphur powder are undertaken to control the mildew disease.
Guava: Guava (peru), grown in the district, occupied an area of 349 acres in 1967-68. It requires black fertile soil. Though guava seeds can be sown by propagation, for quality fruit, grafts of selected trees are planted. Planting is done in pits which are 4.572 metres to 6096 metres (15 feet to 20 feet) apart from each other. Before planting the soil is well prepared and pits are filled with farm-yard manure. Frequent irrigation is essential in the dry season. Inter-crops such as vegetables are usually allowed for a couple of years between the
rows of guava trees. Guava starts blossoming after about three years. It begins to bear fruits when about four years old. Fruit-bearing trees are given heavy doses of manure. In February-March, the soil is dug up and the roots laid bare for a fortnight. Before the trees shed leaves the beds are manured and irrigated. The beds are frequently pulverised. Fruits are plucked when they turn yellowish. There are two seasons of this fruit, viz., one in August-September and the other in November-December.
Pomegranate: Pomegranate (dalimb), grown in the district, occupied an area of 182 acres in 1967-68. It is grown in dry soils with light rain-fall. It thrives well in short winters and long summers. It flourishes quite well on medium to lighter types of soils. Seedlings of pomegranates are grown from seeds of selected fruits and get ready for transplantation after one year. They are planted about 3.048 metres (ten feet) apart in pits which are filled with soil and farm-yard manure. The plants usually bear fruit three years after transplantation. Fruit-borer and insects ruin the crop. The pest can be controlled by spraying wettable D.D.T. The fruits are nourishing and used as table-dish.
Citrus fruits: Citrus fruits claimed 31.75 per cent of the total area under fruits in the district in 1967-68. The principal types of citrus fruits grown in the district are mosambis (sweet oranges), santras (Mandarin oranges), and sour-limes (kagdi-limbus). Sweet oranges and Mandarin oranges together occupied 397 acres in 1967-68, while sour-lime occupied 531 acres in the district. The important centres of citrus fruit cultivation in the district are Malshiras, Mohol, Barshi, Madha, Pandharpur, South Sholapur and North Sholapur talukas.
Citrus trees are usually grown on free working medium black or light loam soils. Deep black soils which hold moisture for a long time are usually not selected for planting citrus orchards. All alluvial types of soils are considered to be ideal for cultivation of citrus fruits. The citrus trees are very sensitive to poor drainage and are not planted in soils which are likely to become water-logged. Citrus trees are propagated by budding on Jamburi root stock. The budded plants are transplanted in the orchard during the monsoon season. The distance at which the different varieties of citrus are planted varies from 18 feet to 25 feet. The trees are irrigated regularly at an interval of about fifteen days in winter and after every ten days in summer. The plantations are treated either for Ambe or Mrug Bahar.
After fruiting of the previous season is complete, the trees are rested by cutting down the water-supply for about a month or a month and half. The land is then ploughed and each tree is manured with farm-yard manure or groundnut-cake. Regular cultivation is necessary in order to control the growth of weeds. The citrus trees begin to bear fruits after about three to four years of planting, Mosambi, santra and Kagdi limbu are the most common varieties of citrus grown in the district. The yield per acre varies with different varieties. Besides being eaten as fresh fruit the orange and kagdi limbu are used for extraction and bottling their juices. Orange is also used for preparation of marmalade.
Mango : Mango (amba) occupied a very small area of 78 acres in 1967-68. Malshiras taluka had 41 acres of this acreage. Seedlings raised from mango stones are planted in pits filled with good soil and manure. Mango grafts are also planted. The mango-tree bears fruits after 5-6 years and continues for well over fifty years. Cold weather and strong winds cause florescence to shed and reduce the yield considerably. Ripe mango is used as a delicious table fruit as also in the preparation of jam, whereas green mango is eaten raw as also used for preparing pickles, chutneys, etc.