Variegated chico is prolific and sweet

It bears a lot of fruits year-round. Its medium-size fruits are fine-textured and very sweet. It is also very decorative because of its green and yellow leaves. That’s the variegated chico which is both an economic and decorative plant.
The variegated chico was introduced in the Philippines way back in the early 1980s. The fellow responsible for that was the late John Mesina, a commercial pilot who also had a sideline in orchids, ornamentals and fruit trees. For many years, the variegated chico remained in the hands of just a few fruit fanciers because there were just a few propagations available. Mesina’s son, Bobby, just multiplied it by marcotting which is a very slow process. Moreover, marcotted variegated chico does not grow very well because it does not have a tap root.
It was only when grafting was resorted to just about five years ago that the fruit tree has become available in big numbers. Today, it is being mass propagated
at the Teresa Orchard & Nursery in Teresa, Rizal. Dondon de Leon, a master propagator, multiplies it through the so-called crown grafting method, using green chico seedlings as rootstock. Crown grafting is a technique whereby the leaves of the scion are not removed. The newly grafted seedlings are then placed in an enclosed chamber. In a matter of just a few weeks, the graft will be well established. The seedlings produced through crown grafting are ready for planting within a shorter period than when the traditional grafting method is used.
As both an economic and decorative plant, it could be grown in the yard wherever it is possible. It could be grown direct in the ground or in a rubberized container as is being done at the Teresa Orchard & Nursery. Grafted trees grown in containers can be maintained lowgrowing yet very fruitful. The main trunk is detopped so that many branches develop. For as long as the tree in container is adequately fertilized, it will produce plenty of fullsized fruits.
The rubberized container is provided with drainage holes. Then a growing medium that is rich in organic matter is used. This could be a mixture of old rice hull, garden soil and old animal manure (chicken, carabao, horse and the like). Also, the plant should be regularly fertilized with chemical fertilizer, both foliar and the kind that is placed in the soil. Complete fertilizer may be applied every month in the containerized chico, the rate depending on the size of the tree. When the fruits are still very small, ammonium sulfate may be added (half-half) to the complete fertilizer. When the fruits are already big, the complete fertilizer may be reinforced with equal amount of 0-060 (muriate of potash) to make the fruits sweeter. Micronutrients or trace elements may also be added in small amounts to make the fruits more juicy.
When grown in the ground, it should be provided with good drainage. If the soil is hard clay, a cubic meter hole may be dug and filled with a mixture of well decomposed animal manure, rice hull and topsoil. Addition of old manure twice a year may be done. Also, chemical fertilizer (both applied in the soil and through the leaves) will keep the tree in good shape.


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