Tien Giang revives durian orchards hit by saltwater intrusion hinh anh 1A durian orchard in Tien Giang province’s Cai Lay district affected by saltwater intrusion and drought in the 2019 – 2020 dry season (Source: VNA)

Tien Giang (VNA) – The Mekong Delta province of Tien Giang has stepped up measures to recover durian orchards damaged by severe saltwater intrusion and drought in the 2019 – 2020 dry season.

The province, which is the country’s largest fruit producer, has more than 13,500ha of durian, accounting for 14.7 percent of the province’s total fruit areas, according to the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Nguyen Van Man, director of the department, said severe saltwater intrusion and drought in the 2019 – 2020 dry season damaged 5,343ha of fruits, including 4,500ha of durian orchards in the province’s western area.

Many orchards were damaged up to 70 percent, the rate at which the orchards are considered lost, according to farmers.

In Cai Lay district’s Tam Binh commune, the province’s largest durian growing area, many farmers are cutting down dead durian trees.

Saltwater intrusion occurred at the end of last year and lasted for more than six months, damaging durian orchards in the commune.  

The highest salinity rate during the period was nearly 10 grammes per litre, 10 times higher than the rate tolerated by durian trees.

Nguyen Tan Nhu, Secretary of the Tam Bình Commune Party Committee, said nearly 1,000ha of durian in Tam Binh, or 70 percent of the commune’s total durian area, has died, causing severe losses for farmers.

Durian is a perennial tree with high economic value, but cannot tolerate high salinity and inclement weather which occurred in the 2019 – 2020 dry season, he said.

Huynh Thi Kim Trinh in Tam Binh’s Binh Hoa A hamlet said one of her two durian orchards is damaged and the other is being rehabilitated.

The province is entering the rainy season, but the aftermath of severe saltwater intrusion and drought in the last dry season saturated the soil, injuring or killing durian trees.

To save injured trees, the provincial People’s Committee has ordered the department in co-operation with research institutes and relevant agencies to evaluate the causes and show farmers how to recover their orchards.

Durian orchards are applying advanced techniques to rehabilitate affected trees after the end of saltwater intrusion and drought, and to adapt to saltwater intrusion in Tam Binh and Ngu Hiep communes.  

Dr. Le Quoc Dien of the Southern Horticultural Research Institute said under the models, farmers follow five steps to rehabilitate soil.

The steps are to wash out salt, rehabilitate the root and leaf systems of durian trees, support leaf and roof development, and increase nutrient absorption and photosynthesis capacity of trees.

Le Van Tieu, who is rehabilitating his durian orchard in Ngu Hiep, said leaf development has improved considerably.

In the 2019 - 2020 dry season, saltwater intrusion and drought occurred in all of the province’s districts and towns, damaging agricultural production./.