Pineapple is the second most important fruit crop of the north-eastern region of India both regarding area under plantation and production. Its area of cultivation is estimated to be about 20,126 hectares with an annual production of 1, 67,518 tons. Manipur stands first in production while Meghalaya has the largest area under pineapple cultivation and is second in production. It is followed by Assam, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, and Nagaland. The other important pineapple growing areas in India are West Bengal, West coastal belt of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala, East coastal belt of Tamil Nadu and on a limited scale in the coastal areas of Andhra Pradesh and Orissa.
Climate required for Pineapple cultivation
It is tropical fruit crop. It thrives well in a mild tropical climate and grows well near the coast as well in the interior so long as the temperatures are not extreme. The optimum temperature ranges from 21O – 23O C. It can be grown up to an elevation of 1100m above the sea level, provided they be free from frost. It requires an optimum of 150 cm which should be well distributed. Where the rainfall is less, supplementary irrigation must be provided.
Pineapple can be grown on any soil (except heavy clay). However, sandy loam with a pH range of 5.5 to 6.0 is the best. The soil should have a depth of at least 60 cm without hard pan beneath or water logging. Low lying areas with high water table are not suitable.
Varieties of Pineapple
It is a leading commercial variety of India and the most suitable variety for canning. It is a prolific yielder. Fruits are large, and each fruit weighs 1.5 to 2.5 kg. The eyes on the fruits are broad and shallow. The external color of the ripe fruit is yellow. The flesh is firm, juicy and pale yellow in color. It has almost spineless leaves. The variety is of shy suckering habit. This variety is grown in Tamil Nadu. It is a late maturing variety, ripening in August and September.
This is an early variety, earliest of all the varieties in IIndi ripens in June-July with a very uniform ripening habit. The fruit cylindrical and of the medium in size and weighs 0.5 to 1.0 kg. Eyes are prominent and deep, hence not suitable for canning. Queen is the best desert pineapple. The external colour of the ripe fruit is a deep yellow. The flesh is firm, crisp, sweet and golden yellow in colour. As compared to Kew, Queen plants are smaller with a dwarf and compact habit of growth. They have spiny serrated leaf margins. It produces suckers freely.
This is a mid-season variety ripening in July-August. Fruits are of medium size, weighing about 2-3 kg on an average. The fruit may be oblong or round. External color of the ripe fruit is reddish yellow. The flesh is light yellow in color and slightly fibrous. The plants of this variety resemble Queen plants in most of the vegetative and fruit characters. The leaves are serrated and spiny.
This is a local variety, largely grown in Visakhapatnam area. Fruits are small, and flesh is light yellow with fiber.
Pineapple is propagated vegetatively through suckers, slips and crowns. Suckers are shoots arising from the axils of the leaves of from the base of plant near the ground. Slips are produced on the fruiting stem while crowns are borne on the top of the fruit. Suckers and slips are used because suckers give the first crop in 14 to 18 months. Slips take 20-22 months for the first crop, while crowns take more than 24 months for the first crop. Because of shy suckering habit or Kew variety, crowns are used as propagating material in Kew variety.
Planting of Pineapple
Suckers of uniform size (400-450g) should be selected for planting, as they give best yields compared to higher or lower size categories of suckers. Planting materials should be collected from high yielding well maintained gardens, which are free from pests and diseases.
At the time of planting, few basal scale leaves of the suckers should be stripped off to encourage the formation and entry of roots into the soil. Before planting, the sucker should be dried for one of two days, by spreading them upside down. Fresh suckers should not be planted in moist soil. Otherwise, they decay. The suckers should be dipped in Bordeaux mixture (1%) or Dithane Z-78 (0.3%) and Difolatan (0.2%) to avoid mealy bugs and heart rot.
Planting may normally be done during the rainy season, avoiding periods of heavy rainfall. July and August are the best months, however, where irrigation facilities are available, planting can be taken up around the year to ensure supply of fruits throughout the year.
The popular method of planting pineapple is the double row system. The two rows are spaced 60cm apart, and in each row, the plants are planted 45cm apart in such a way that no two plants are exactly opposite each other. The double rows are spaced at 1.5 to 2.0m. In this method, 15,000-20,000 suckers can be accommodated per ha. When it is desired to have more than two ratoon crops, the above method can be adopted. Otherwise, the close spacing may be chosen. In this method, early and higher yields are obtained from an unit area. In this method a spacing of 25 x 60 x 105 cm or 25 x 60 x 90 cm is adopted. This accommodates 49,000 to 53,000 suckers per hectare.
Preparation of Land for growing Pineapple
The selected site of land should be prepared very thoroughly by ploughing and cross ploughing or by forking or hand hoeing. If the land is undulating terracing should be practiced. The land should be dug up to a depth of 40-50cm till a fine tilth is obtained. At the last round of ploughing or digging FYM or compost is applied. After leveling, the land is laid out into trenches alternating with mounds for planting the suckers. For double row system of planting, two shallow furrows about 10-15 cm depth are to be opened.
Manures and Fertilizers for Pineapple
After plants have been established apply 16 g Nitrogen, 2g Phosphorus and 3g Potash per plant, two to three times. Application of 20-25 tonnes of FYM, 350kg Nitrogen, 130kg Phosphorus and 40kg Potash per hectare is recommended. FYM and P2O5 may be applied as the basal dressing at the time of the last ploughing or digging. Nitrogen and Potash are to be applied in three split doses i.e. 60th, 150th and 240th days after planting. Nitrogen may be supplied in the form of ammonium sulphate. Immediately after manuring, the crop should be irrigated and then earthedup to provide better anchorage to the plant.
After planting, whenever weeds appear interculture should be done without digging of the soil deep. Mulching with dry grasses, straw, sawdust, coirdust, rice husk etc. will also help to suppress weed growth, conserve moisture, maintain the humus status of soil.
Irrigation of Pineapple
Though pineapple is a drought resistant crop, for getting high yields, it should be irrigated, at least during the dry periods. Irrigations improve fruit size. Therefore, 4-6 irrigations in hot months at an interval of 15-20 days will ensure a good crop.
Flowering and Harvesting of Pineapple
To achieve uniform flowering in pineapple NAA in the form of Panofix at 10-20 ppm (1ml planofix in 9 lit of water) or a mixture of 10 ppm of Ethephon (ethrel) + 2% urea + 0.04% Sodium carbonate may be poured (50 ml) in the heart of the plants 15 to 16 month after planting on a clear sunny day. The Ethephon solution should be used immediately after preparation.
The plant flowers 12 months after planting from February of April. The fruits take about 135 to 165 days to mature and ripen. The fruits ripen from June to September depending on the variety. In our state fruits come to harvest from June to August.
To achieve good fruit size and uniform cylindrical shape the crowns of fruits may be removed with a sharp knife when they are 5 to 10cm long. In hot weather, the fruits may be covered by wrapping the fruits with the outer leaves or dry grass or straw or banana leaves or paper covers for protection from sun scorch.
When atleast 2 or 3 rows or eyes at the base have turned yellow, the fruit is ready for harvest. However, for distant markets less matured fruits are to be harvested. Harvesting may be done with a long, sharp knife, cutting the fruit stalk few centimeters below the base of the fruit. The fruit with the crown can be kept without damage of 3-4 days after harvest.
The yield per hectare varies from 40-60 tonnes depending on the variety.
Ratoon cropping is common in pineapple. After the harvest of the first crop, all the suckers borne on the plant should be removed leaving only one sucker on the monter plant. Similarly all slips should be removed. Then the plants are fertilized, irrigated, and earthed up so that the plants have good anchorage for ratoon crop. The crop is retained like this for four or five years and then removed.
It is one of the most delicious of the tropical fruits. The fruit is a good source of vitamins A and B. it is very rich in Vitamin ‘C’. Also, it constitutes an important raw material for the fruit processing and preservation industry. Pineapple is utilized in the fruit preservation and processing industries for the preparationThe most of the canned pineapple in the form of slices, rings etc. The fruit juice is also canned, fruit is also used in the preparation of jam.
The dried waste after extraction of juice, known as pineapple bran, is used as a stock feed. Pineapple juice the in the manufacture of alcohol, calcium citrate, citric acid, and vinegar.
Pests of Pineapple
1.Mealy Bug (Dysimicoccus brevipes)
The bug causes wilt and eventual death of plants.
The pest can be controlled dipping the suckers in 10 ml Methyl parathion or 17ml of Dimethoaiate in 10 litres of water before planting by applying 1.7 kg ai/ha of Phorate granules and by treating the soil either with 2.75 kg/ha of Chlordane or 2.25 kg/ha of Heptachlor to kill the attendants.
Diseases of Pineapple
1.Heart Rot (Phytophthora parasitica)
The disease is recognized by complete rotting of the central portion of the stem. The top leaves turn brown and basal portion of leaves shows sign of rotting with foul odour. It is more prevalent in high rainfall areas.
Proper drainage is necessary to avoid this disease. Dip the planting material in 0.4% Difoltan at the time of planting. If the disease appears on plants, spray Difoltan @ 20g in 10 litres of water.
2.Soft Rot and Black Rot (Ceratocystis paradoxa))
Most typical symptom is black rot of the butt in the field which is followed by wilting of foliage and breaking off of plants at ground level. Leaf spots are grey with dark margins later tuming olive-brown or white. Leaf tissues dry and leaves distorted. Water blisters are noticed as soft watery rot involving the flesh of fruit. Fruit sking becomes brittle and diseased portions disintegrate accompanied with a sweet smell. Infections occur through wounds and cut ends.
Field sanitation, collection of suckers from disease free fields, exposing the planting material to sun for 2 hours, better drainage and periodical spraying with Bordeaux mixture from the time of flowering will control the diseases in the filed. Dipping the cut end of the fruit stalk in a 10% solution of Benzoic acid in alcohol and spraying the packing shed and packing cases or baskets lith a 3% solution of Formalin will also help to check the diseases.
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- Dr. Y.S.R. Horticulture University, Andhra Pradesh.
- Agriculture planning and information bank.