The globalization of the economy and the increased demand for healthy and more diverse food products have opened a window of opportunity for the commercial production and marketing of nontraditional tropical/subtropical fruit crops. Rambutan is native to Malaysia and Indonesia and is a member of the Sapindaceae family (Tindall, 1994). The tree is strictly tropical and adapts to well-drained, clayey acid soils under a rainfall distribution of ≈2000 mm per year (Goenaga, 2011; Tindall, 1994). The edible portion of the fruit is a fleshy, translucent white sarcotesta that arises from an integument surrounding a single oblong seed. In freestone cultivars, the sarcostesta and integument come freely away from the seed, a desired characteristic; in “clingstone” cultivars, they are more difficult to separate (O'Hare, 2001). The existence of the West Indian fruit fly (Anastrepha obliqua) in Puerto Rico is an obstacle to the export of many fruit. However, an extensive survey of ripe fruit from the field did not recover any rambutan infested with this fruit fly, nor did any adult fruit flies develop from ripe rambutan fruit with the peel partially removed and exposed to fecund and fertile female fruit flies, demonstrating that the fruit is not a host to this fruit fly and making its exportation possible to locations where it is not present (Jenkins and Goenaga, 2008).
There is little information available on total production area of rambutan worldwide. Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia are the largest producers of rambutan, with total production areas of 90,000, 86,440, and 43,000 ha, respectively (Salakpetch, 2000; Zee, et al., 1998). Hawaii and Puerto Rico are the only production areas in the United States with ≈110 ha.
Commonly used cultivars for commercial production include R-134, R-156, R-162, R-167, Gula Batu (Malaysia), Benjai, Lebakbulus (Indonesia), Seechompoo, Rongren (Thailand), and Jitlee (Singapore) (Tindall, 1994). Production of fully matured trees of these cultivars is estimated to range from 60 to 300 kg·ha−1 (Diczbalis, 2004; Tindall, 1994). However, results from replicated field trials to evaluate these and other cultivars are very limited. The purpose of this study was to evaluate yield performance and fruit quality traits of eight rambutan cultivars grown in two agroenvironments.
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