Krasang oranges or feroniella orange, known for their abundant juice and a delightful blend of sweet and sour tastes, are gradually making their presence felt in Cambodia’s fruit cultivation. Despite not being as widely grown as the local Pursat variety, they are gaining attention for their yield and versatility.

Eam Ly, a 60-year-old farmer in the Prek Reang village of Kandal province’s Sa’ang district, has been at the forefront of this citrus revolution.

Over the past seven years, Ly has cultivated nearly 300 of the trees from Thailand on half a hectare of land. He began this agricultural journey by growing the trees from seeds.

“The trees started bearing after a year and a half,” he said.

The clusters grow so densely that they can often be concealed by the lush dark blue foliage. Each bunch weighs between two to five kilogrammes, and the fruit sizes range from the dimensions of an ankle to as large as an adult’s thigh.

“What sets Krasang oranges apart is their exceptional bounty when compared to Pursat oranges,” Ly stated.

The impressive harvest capacity of each tree ranges from 100 to 200 kilogrammes, and it only increases as the tree matures.

Cultivating these oranges is relatively straightforward, requiring consistent but not overly intricate care.

“The key to a healthy tree involves regular fertilisation and watering,” Ly said.

His own experience indicates that using only compost as fertiliser enhances the sweetness of the juice, a key differentiator for the fruit.

“Proper pruning to ensure adequate airflow can also enhance the size and flavour. Once the tree starts bearing, it continues to do so for several years,” Ly added, providing insights into advanced stages of cultivation.

Before the onslaught of the Covid-19 pandemic, the oranges enjoyed robust market demand, with prices fetching between 8,000 to 10,000 riel per kilogramme. The pandemic has seen a price drop to around 5,000 riel per kilogramme, yet Ly still receives orders from customers, some from as far as Phnom Penh, Preah Sihanouk, and Koh Kong provinces.

For those interested in starting their own orchards, Ly also offers grafted branches for 30,000 riel each.

“Planting from these cuttings results in faster maturation compared to seeds,” he said, underscoring an alternative approach to cultivation.

Li Ya, a tree seller in Kak Sekam village, Battambang province, said that the fruit comes in Chinese, Thai, and Vietnamese varieties.

“Most customers are families looking to grow them in their own households rather than for large-scale farming,” she said.

Khem Rin, director of the Agronomic Office at the Kandal Provincial Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, acknowledged the existence of Krasang orange cultivation within the province but noted its limited scale.

“The demand is currently lower compared to the Pursat kind,” Rin stated, adding that further research would be needed to explore their specific benefits.

Regardless, between their vibrant blue leaves and their year-round yield of sweet, abundant fruits, Krasang orange trees are carving out a unique space in Cambodia’s agricultural landscape. Whether or not their oranges will rise to rival the popularity of the Pursat variety remains to be seen, but their growing footprint – led by farmers like Ly – is surely worth noting.