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Tuesday, 03 January 2023 09:03

A Step-by-Step Guide to Growing Delicious Pineapples

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Pineapples are tropical fruits and can be grown in Zimbabwe. Regions with heavy rainfall are considered as the best for optimum pineapple growth. An Optimum rainfall of 1500 mm per year is sufficient enough for their best growth. However, they can be also cultivated in areas having rainfall of 500 mm to 550 mm per annum.

Cultivars

There are 5 major pineapples grown throughout the world. Two of these, Cayenne and Queen, are widely cultivated in Zimbabwe. The Smooth Cayenne cultivar is used for both canning (75 % of which is exported) and as fresh fruit. The Queen, because of its high sugar content and unsuitable canning qualities, is cultivated only for fresh consumption. However, because production of the Queen pineapple is more costly, fresh consumption is shifting towards the Cayenne.

Cayenne plants and the fruit are normally larger than that of the Queen, with succulent yellow fruit. Queen fruit has a golden yellow colour and is less juicy.

Planting Requirements

Pineapples can be grown in a variety of soil types but prefer mildly acid soils (pH 5,5_6,5). However, there are certain requirements for successful pineapple production, which include:

👉Subsoil (rip) to a depth of 800 to 900 mm under dry conditions

👉Disc, plough and till the soil a number of times, to achieve a fine tilth, for effective plant rooting

👉Ridge the soil for better drainage, temperature and to improve aeration

👉Have soil samples analysed at least 6 months before planting to determine fertilisation and fumigation requirements .

👉Plant population from 20 000- 60 0000 per hectare

Unlike many other crops grown from seed, pineapples are grown by planting various parts of the plant according to the cultivar, where it is going to be produced, and the cultivation methods practised in the area.

Although crowns are mostly used as planting material for the Cayenne cultivar, they are considered uneconomical for the Queen cultivar because of the length of time they take to bear.

Suckers are planted in the case of Queen pineapple production. Slips bear sooner than crowns but they require a great deal of labour (to break them out and to remove the small fruit attached to their bases). Stumps are generally used when no other planting material is available.

Planting is done by hand, with or without the aid of a planting machine. Use of the latter results in uniform, neat plantations.     

👉Spacing from ridge centre to ridge centre: 1,5 m.

👉Each ridge must carry a double row of plants.

👉Spacing between rows should be 600 mm.

👉Spacing between the plants in the row: 300 mm.

Weed control

For the control of most broad-leaved weeds and annual grasses, contact herbicides can be used. Apply pre-emergence herbicides immediately after planting the pineapples, before root development and weed emergence

Pest and disease control

Effective control measures are available for the most important pests and diseases. Pesticides used to control soil pests and diseases should be incorporated into the soil before ridging, with booster applications if required. Pests above the soil level are usually controlled by spraying with a foliar pesticide during the period when the pests are most active.

Fertilization

Pineapples crops require a minimum of 15gm of Nitrogen and Potassium per each plant. This crop does not require phosphorous for its healthy growth. However, if your soil is less fertile, then application of 4 gm of P2O5 is also beneficial for getting a higher yield. Apply Nitrogen in six equal split doses. The first dose should be applied after two months of plantation whereas the last one is to be applied at about one year of planting pineapples on the main field. Follow the same for application of Potash.

Irrigation

The pineapple plant is able to utilise rainwater and even dew very effectively. Therefore, the heavy dew that occurs in some parts of the country is so valuable to pineapples that irrigation may not even be necessary. Supplementary irrigation could, however, sometimes be essential and of great value.

Harvesting

Usually, pineapple plant starts flowering after about 12 to 15 months of the plantation. Generally, in about two years after planting on the main field, the pineapple crop becomes ready for harvesting

Harvesting should be done 7 to 14 days after yellowing. It is labour intensive because workers walk in the space between ridges to pick the fruit by hand, loading it into baskets, or onto a boom harvester.

After harvesting the crowns are broken off (not twisted) and left on top of the plants in the field or are placed in bags to be collected at a later date for planting. Make sure that the fruit is not too green or too ripe when harvested, not bruised or damaged and that it is not affected to a large extent by any physiological problems.

Yield

With the help of advance pineapple farming techniques and good farm management skills, it is available to produce more than 80 tonnes of pineapple fruits per unit hectare depending on the spacing and intercultural activities. The economic life of the pineapple farming is about 5 years after which the main field should be uprooted and should be used for replantation of pineapple farming or can be utilized for farming another commercial crop.

Important Things You Need To Consider In Pineapple Farming

👉Forcing agents- With the use of forcing agents, the pineapples can be made to bear fruit at virtually any time of the year. This is because it initiates flowering, shortens crop cycle and increases yield and It ensures uniform, complete and concentrated cropping.

 

👉Fruit colouring or yellowing- Fruiting agents can also be applied to colour fruit, by spraying or brushing onto fruit. This ensures uniform colouring of the fruit in a plantation.

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