Spe­cial durian must be pro­tected, mul­ti­plied

Agriculture - - Contents - BY ZAC B. SAR­IAN

ON DE­CEM­BER 7, 2015 we came face to face—so to speak—with a ma­jes­tic 30-year-old durian tree in a 36hectare farm owned by the Dima­poro fam­ily in Matun­gao, Lanao del Norte. The tree is con­sid­ered very spe­cial for very good rea­sons. To reach the farm means two hours of ne­go­ti­at­ing well-paved as well as bumpy dirt roads, and then we had to con­tend with a thick growth of shoul­der-high weeds to get near the tree. But all the ef­forts were worth it.

Raul Maghilom, an agri­cul­tur­ist work­ing for the Dima­poro fam­ily, re­lated to us how spe­cial the durian tree is, and they have named it Durian Dima­poro Spe­cial or sim­ply DDS. They called it Spe­cial be­cause of its fruits’ su­pe­rior eat­ing qual­ity. They com­pared its taste with such fa­vorites as Puyat, Cha­nee, Mon­thong, or Golden Pil­low of Thai­land and other in­tro­duced va­ri­eties. DDS sim­ply stands out in terms of its taste, ac­cord­ing to Maghilom. Its golden yel­low flesh is very at­trac­tive, too.

The fruit is dif­fer­ent from most va­ri­eties not only in taste but

also in size and shape. It is very round like a bas­ket­ball and is big; it weighs five to seven ki­los each.

VERY HEALTHY – To us, DDS is very spe­cial in one more as­pect. Com­pared to the other va­ri­eties in the farm, the DDS tree stands out as very healthy, as if un­af­fected by dis­eases such as an­thrac­nose and die-back. In con­trast, many of the other va­ri­eties in the farm are suf­fer­ing from die-back dis­ease. Many of their top branches have died. SPE­CIAL PRO­JECT – If I were the owner of the tree, I will un­der­take a spe­cial pro­ject to per­pet­u­ate the spe­cial qual­i­ties of DDS. It should be a prof­itable, sus­tain­able pro­ject that will ben­e­fit other farm­ers and all durian-lov­ing con­sumers in the long term.

This is what I would do. I will make the tree re­ally spe­cial. I will elim­i­nate the weeds and bushes all around the DDS tree, say at a perime­ter of 10 me­ters be­yond the spread of the canopy. I will even put a sturdy fence all around so no stray an­i­mals will in­trude that could dam­age the tree. I will put up a spe­cial marker pro­claim­ing that this par­tic­u­lar durian tree is a very spe­cial trea­sure.

NOUR­ISH THE TREE – I will see to it that the tree gets ad­e­quate nu­tri­ents to main­tain its good health and en­able it to pro­duce a rea­son­able amount of fruits. To do this, I will spread at least 8 sacks of pro­cessed or­ganic fer­til­izer all un­der its canopy. I will even re­in­force that with com­plete chem­i­cal fer­til­izer con­tain­ing mi­cronu­tri­ents. No, I will not skimp on fer­til­iz­ers. I will see to it that there is no wa­ter­log­ging. And I will also make sure that when there is a dry spell, the tree should be wa­tered ad­e­quately.

DDS HAS TO BE MUL­TI­PLIED – There is only one DDS tree among 300 or so durian trees in the farm. It is there­fore very ur­gent that be­fore any­thing un­to­ward hap­pens to the tree—like be­ing struck by light­ning or blown down by strong winds—DDS be mul­ti­plied by graft­ing.

For­tu­nately, there are low-ly­ing branches of the tree that are very healthy, which could be the source of scions for graft­ing. In our own es­ti­mate, a good prop­a­ga­tor could graft no less than 500 seedlings in one year.

WHAT TO DO NEXT – The grafted seedlings should be given spe­cial care. They should be placed in a net­ted nurs­ery where they will re­ceive the right amount of sun­light and also given the right pot­ting medium and the right at­ten­tion. The next agenda would be to cre­ate a scion grove to en­sure that DDS will never per­ish and be­come ex­tinct. It can be around for­ever. I will plant at least 100 grafted trees that will serve as the source of prop­a­gat­ing ma­te­ri­als. In Lanao, we saw a lot of co­conut plan­ta­tions with old co­conut trees that are planted about 10 to 12 me­ters apart. One hectare could be planted to 100 trees for the pro­duc­tion of fruits and scions.

With ad­e­quate fer­til­iza­tion and wa­ter­ing, the grafted trees could start bear­ing fruit in five to six years. The other grafted trees can be sold to in­ter­ested grow­ers. Or they could be planted in other Dima­poro farms.

PROP­A­GA­TION EV­ERY YEAR – Graft­ing should be con­tin­ued year af­ter year, get­ting the scion from the mother tree. The idea is not to make the DDS ex­clu­sive to the Dima­poro fam­ily. More peo­ple from Lanao del Norte and be­yond should be en­cour­aged to plant DDS in com­mer­cial farms and in home lots. The idea is to share the good things with other peo­ple. And that will en­dear the Dima­poro name to durian-lov­ing peo­ple.

The tar­get could be to pro­duce big vol­umes of fruits later on for sale to other places in the Philip­pines and for over­seas mar­kets such as Hong Kong, Sin­ga­pore and Tai­wan. Fresh fruits as well as pro­cessed, vac­uum-packed, and frozen ones can be ex­ported.

THE END RE­SULT – The DDS could be­come a by­word and the Dima­poro name well-loved by the durian-lov­ing com­mu­nity. The orig­i­nal tree could be­come an agri­tourism desti­na­tion. It could be­come a na­tional trea­sure that will be con­served and main­tained.

Dur­ing the durian sea­son, spe­cial guests from Manila and else­where could be in­vited to ex­pe­ri­ence tast­ing the spe­cial durian. This could be a well-pub­li­cized event to fur­ther spread the good news about DDS. It could be fea­tured in so­cial me­dia, print, ra­dio, and tele­vi­sion. I will be the first to pub­li­cize it in my blog and in my writ­ings in the daily news­pa­per and the ver­nac­u­lar mag­a­zines. THE FARM’S FOUNDER – The 36-hectare farm was de­vel­oped by the late Con­gress­man Ali Dima­poro, the grand old man of the reign­ing Dima­poro political clan in Lanao del Norte. Raul Maghilom re­lates that the late political king­pin Ali loved to col­lect durian va­ri­eties dur­ing his trav­els abroad. And one of them was the DDS, which is do­ing very well de­spite the ap­par­ent lack of at­ten­tion and care. Many of the other durian trees in the farm are suf­fer­ing from die-back dis­ease. But not DDS.

There is still time to make DDS a com­mer­cially vi­able va­ri­ety and a tourist at­trac­tion in Lanao del Norte. This can be pos­si­ble by plant­ing more DDS prop­a­ga­tions and giv­ing them the spe­cial care they de­serve.

Healthy low-ly­ing branches of DDS can be the source of scions for graft­ing.

Mighty Di­makuta close to the low-ly­ing branches of DDS.

Close up of the healthy low-ly­ing branches of DDS.

The other durian va­ri­eties at the Dima­poro Farm are suf­fer­ing from die-back dis­ease. Note the dried top branches of the tree.

The Durian Dima­poro Spe­cial stands ma­jes­tic, sur­rounded by tall weeds.

Mam­intal “Mighty” Di­makuta and Zac B. Sar­ian look­ing at the DDS tree up close.

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