The loquat tree is productive, and a regular bearer. Barring crop failures due to severe frosts at flowering time, the trees rarely fail to produce well every year. Their tendency is to overbear, with the result that the fruits are apt to be undersized. It has been profitable to thin the crop, since the increased size of the fruits remaining on the tree more than compensates for the loss of those removed. The practice of experienced loquatgrowers in California is to clip out the ends of the fruit-clusters with a pair of thinning-shears: this should be done as soon as the young fruits have formed. Where choice varieties are grown, and where birds and insects are troublesome, it has been profitable, in a small way, to protect the fruit by inclosing each cluster in a cloth or paper bag. The Japanese, who practice bagging in connection with the production of fancy loquats, find that it results in larger fruit and a greater degree of uniformity in ripening.
The season during which loquats are marketed in California extends from the latter part of February to June. A given variety may ripen several weeks earlier in one locality than in another. In Florida the season is considerably earlier than in California. The fruits should be left on the tree until they are fully ripe, unless it is desired to use them for jelly or for cooking. Unripe the loquat is decidedly acid, whereas the fully ripe fruit is sweet and delicious. Clippers such as are used by orange-pickers are employed in gathering the fruit. Sometimes whole clusters can be picked, and again it may be necessary to clip off two or three ripe fruits and leave the remaining ones to mature.
The fruit is sorted and graded by hand. For shipping to near-by markets it is packed in thirty-pound wooden boxes ("lug boxes") without the use of excelsior, straw, or other soft material to prevent bruising. For distant markets smaller packages and considerable care will be required, since the fruit is bruised rather easily.