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‘Clothes’ for specialty oranges

HA TINH – People in Huong Do commune, Huong Khe district, buy curtains to surround thousands of Khe May orange trees planted in gardens or farms to fight insects.

Huong Do commune is the capital of Khe May oranges with 360 ha and 264 producing households. On average, each household owns from 2 Sao to 20 ha of land and grows 100 to thousands of trees. Hot summer days and cold nights make it easier for plants to grow, creating a specialty of Khe May oranges with a sweet, aromatic, and crunchy taste.

At the beginning of December, Khe May oranges are in the harvest season, the fruits are ripe and yellow. In the gardens in residential areas and on hill farms, orange trees are surrounded by many screens from top to bottom to protect the fruit.

Khe May orange trees are about 2 m high, 2.5 m wide, planted about 3 m apart in rows.

The screen covers the orange tree in the form of a square grid, about 3-4 m on each side, 2.5-3 m high, priced at 110,000-140,000 VND/piece.

Ms. Dinh Thi Huong, the resident of Huong Do commune, said that in early August when oranges start to taste sweet and attract many insects, people will buy nets and hang them on trees. By mid-January, when the harvest is done, they will remove the curtains.

Every August, Ms. Huong and many gardeners hire dozens of workers to work for about 3 weeks, with a salary of 200,000 VND a day. When “dressing” for oranges, one person holding a bamboo pole lifts the curtain over the tree, the opposite person will gather the curtain to cover, then press down with a rock to prevent it from falling off. One day, four people can cover 150 orange trees.

With net screens, insects such as snails, yellow flies, butterflies, and bugs cannot “attack” the fruit.

One hectare of oranges will require 500 nets for 500 trees. Every year, Ms. Huong spends about 60 million VND to buy nets for 2 hectares. Years ago, a family orange crop collected nearly 600 million VND.

A few years ago, when the net method was not used, many people used bricks to build cages and raised about 20 ducks in the orangery to catch insects. Currently, Huong Do commune has a few households applying it.

Mesh screens are usually used for 1-2 years, depending on durability. At the end of the season, the ones that are rotten and torn, people will replace them with new ones.

This year, due to Covid-19, it was difficult to buy nets and the supply was scarce. Many garden owners cannot buy nets on time, so they order plastic bags to wrap the fruit, costing 500 VND a bag.

According to people, this is reluctant, because wrapping plastic bags into each fruit is very time-consuming, and not as effective as netting. Many oranges still fall under the tree due to insects entering the opening of the bag.

When the oranges are ripe, to avoid the fruit swooping to the ground, the gardener uses wooden stakes to prop up the branches around the tree.

In some orange plantations with a large area close together, each curtain is marked with the name of the owner of the garden to avoid confusion.

According to Mr. Nguyen Van Dung, when hooked up to a mosquito net, oranges can still absorb sunlight. The only downside is the weight of the curtain on the leaves, affecting the growth of the plant. The yield of a tree is 15-20 kg of fruit.

Ms. Bui Thi Ty, the resident of hamlet 1, Huong Do commune, said that in previous years, Khe May oranges sold for 35,000-40,000 VND per kilogram, this year due to Covid-19, the consumption and transportation stages were difficult, so the price dropped by nearly a quarter. half.

These days, traders gather in groups of 3-4 motorbike drivers carrying plastic baskets to the hill gardens in Huong Do commune to buy Khe May oranges to retail at the market or import for fruit shops.

Mr. Nguyen Hong Nguyen, Chairman of Huong Do Commune Farmers’ Association, assessed that insect netting is a clean production direction and ensures food safety.

“Khe May oranges are a key product of the commune’s economic development, in previous years each family collected tens of millions of dong, some households collected billions. This year, due to Covid-19, the consumption stage was poor and the price was low. The right is looking for solutions to support output for the people,” said Nguyen. Follow(vnexpress)

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