Origin and distribution
Pineapple guava is commonly known as Guavasteen, New Zealand banana, Feijoa and belongs to the family Myrtaceae. It is a native of extreme southern Brazil, northern Argentina, western Paraguay and Uruguay, where it is found common wild in the mountains and it is believed that the pineapple guava first was grown in Europe during 1887 and subsequently spread to the USA, highlands of Chile and other South American and Caribbean countries. It was New Zealand where pineapple guava was valued for its fruits and named it as ‘New Zealand banana’ for its commerce. In India, it was introduced as a home garden plant in southern hills viz. Coonoor, Nilgiris and Kodaikanal in the 1950s while NBPGR introduced pineapple guava in 1963 from Russia and promoted it as fruit plant in the mid-Himalayan region.
Pineapple guava is a bushy shrub 2-6 m tall with spreading branches. It is a cross pollinated crop however, some varieties may be self-fertile. The plants are evergreen, leaves opposite, short petiolated, bluntly elliptical, thick, leathery, 2.8-6.25 cm long and 1.6-2.8 cm wide, glossy on upper surface. It has conspicuous bisexual flowers of about 3-4 cm wide, erect purple stamens and golden-yellow anthers. The fruits are green or yellowish green, oblong or ovoid 4-6 cm long and 2-5 cm wide, coated with white tiny hairs until maturity. The thick white granular, watery flesh enclosed numerous small seeds, which are sweet or sub-acidic with aromatic flavour.
Nutritional value and uses
Pineapple guava is a rich source of vitamins and minerals. The fruits are eaten dessert and also processed to make wine or cider and pineapple guava infused vodka, jam and ice-cream Cultural practices: Pineapple guava grows well in a sub-tropical climate, which has low humidity and average rainfall of around 800 mm, however, it can withstand temperature 59 as low as -9.00C. It can be grown on a wide range of soils, but thrives well on porous loam soils rich in humus and have pH 6-6.5.
Although, it can tolerate drought but need irrigation when grown for commercial fruit production. It is propagated through seeds, rooted cuttings, rooted suckers and mound layering but the most common propagation method is through seeds. Seeds are separated out from fully mature fruits, strained out, dried in shades and stored in a cool place before sowing. If stored appropriately, they remain viable for a year.
Seeds are sown in the month of February-March in the nursery which has 1:1 ratio of soil and pure sand with enough quantity FYM. The seeds germinate within 2-3 weeks and transferred to the field in the rainy season when they attain a height of around 6-8″. Planting is done at 4×4 m distance between and plants and rows. Fertilizer doses @ of 20 kg FYM and 80-100 g mixture of NPK in the ratio of 1:1:1 may be applied / plant, before planting and repeated every year with a slight increase in dose as the plant, grows in age.
Pine apple guava is a slow growing plant and reaches to bearing stage in 4-5 years, however, plants raised from suckers may bear fruits little faster. It flowers in the month of April and continues till August while fruits start maturing in the month of September-October. Fruits fall upon maturity is a common phenomenon in pineapple guava, however bruising of fruits can be avoided with straw mulch beneath. Fruits can be stored in cool conditions and remain fresh for about two weeks.
The two accessions viz. EC24526 and EC137927 are being maintained in the Field Genebank at Phagli, Shimla. These have been characterized for various agronomic traits having average fruit length 4.5 cm, fruit width 3.5 cm and fruit weight 35 g with total soluble solids 10.0%. We have propagated more than 5000 rooted plants through seeds and suckers and distributed among farmers and researchers in the Western Himalayan region. It is also being tested and rootstock for Guava and it has shown resistance to Guava wilt and other soil borne disease. There are some other commercial varieties grown worldwide include Anatoki, Gemini, Kakapo Std, Mammoth, Pounamu, Tulls Supreme, Unique, and Wiki-Tu.
- National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resource Regional Station Phagli, Shimla