Indian Pineapple-‘The King of
one of the commercially important fruit
crops of India. It is one of the choicest
fruit all over the world because of
its pleasant taste and flavor. Pineapple
is a good source of vitamin A and B
and fairly rich in vitamin C and minerals
like calcium, magnesium, potassium
and iron. It is also a source of Bromelain,
a digestive enzyme. In addition to
being eaten fresh, the fruit can also
be canned and processed in different
Area of Cultivation
Commercial cultivation of
pineapple in India started only about
four decades back. So although the
conditions prevailing in large parts
of india are ideal for pineapple
cultivation, it does not hold any
position of importance among the
major fruits cultivated in our country.
It is being cultivated in high rainfall
and humid coastal regions of peninsular India and hilly
areas of North-Eastern region.Of late, it has been shown
that pineapple can also be grown commercially in the interior
plains with medium rainfall and supplementary protective
irrigation. It is grown in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, Mizoram,
West Bengal, Kerala, Karnataka and Goa on a large scale,
whereas in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh,
Orissa, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh
on a small scale.
The congenial humid climate has favored the cultivation of pineapple and the
finest quality ‘Mauritius Pineapple’ comes from Kerala. The produce
of Kerala is very much in demand as a fresh fruit throughout India and also in
foreign countries because it is considered the best in quality, sweetness and
has good flavor.
Pineapple is a humid tropical plant. It grows well, both in the plains
and also at elevations not exceeding 900 metres. It tolerates neither very high
temperature nor frost. Pineapple usually flowers from February to April and the
fruits are ready from July to September. Sometimes, off-season flowers appear
and they produce fruits in September-December.
Pineapple grows in almost any type of soil, provided
it is free-draining. Slightly acidic soil with pH range
of 5.5 to 6.0 is considered optimum for pineapple cultivation.
The soil should be well drained and light in texture. Heavy
clay soil is not suitable. It can grow in sandy, alluvial
or laterite soil.
Areas with a heavy rainfall are best for pineapple growth. Optimum rainfall is
1500mm per year although it can grow in areas having 500mm to 5550mm of rainfall.
The fruit grows well near the seacoast as well as in inland, so long as temperature
ranges from 15.5 to 32.50 C. Low temperature, bright sunshine and total shade
are harmfull. It can grow successfully upto 1525m above sea level.
The most popular commercial pineapple variety in India is Giant Kew. Other important
verities are Queen, Kew, Mauritius, Charlotte, Rothchild, Jaldhup, Desi, Lakhat,
Qualitatively, Queen is the outstanding table variety used mostly for preparing
Juices, concentrates, squashes and pulps.
The ‘Kew’ variety belonging to the Cayenne group is the leading commercial
variety. Its properties are considered suitable for canning purposes. ‘Charlotte
Rothchild’ is a variety that is partly under cultivation in Kerala and
Goa. Fruit characteristics and taste are similar to Kew and Queen.
Propagation and Planting
The choice of planting material is crucial as the performance of the plants developed
depends on the materials planted. It is always advisable to use uniform size
material of monotype for getting uniform growth of the plants, enabling uniform
cultural operations and getting harvest at 1 time from such a field. Hence selection
of right type and size of planting material is essential for commercial planting.
Pineapple is commonly propagated from suckers or slips. Suckers arising from
the underground parts of the plant are commonly used. Slips arise from the fruiting
stem and from the crown on top of the fruit. After the fruit is harvested, stalks
are cut into discs and used for propagation. Plants grown from suckers produce
fruits in about 18 months, whereas those from slips and suckers propagated from
disc cuttings take over two years.
Among the types and sizes of propagules tried, slips and suckers weighing around
350 and 450 g respectively were found best for yield and quality for Kew pineapple.
Mass multiplication of propagation material is vital to bring fresh area under
cultivation. This is possible only when a number of plantlets can be obtained
from a single mother plant, unlike a few suckers or slips. It has been found
possible to use leaf cuttings from the crowns of Kew pineapple for multiplication
of planting material. Total 10-15 leaf cutting are made from each crown. However,
these cuttings will take even more time than crowns for flowering and thus are
only recommended where planting material is not available.
Suckers or slips are first cured by stripping off the lower leaves, followed
by drying in the sun, or in partial shade for three to four days before planting.
They are planted either in flat beds, where there is no danger of water stagnating,
or in shallow trenches, which are filled as the suckers grow and develop. Care
should be taken to see that they grow and develop. Care should be taken to see
that the bud or `heart’ of the suckers does not get buried. A planting
density of 43,500 plants per hectare can be followed, keeping a distance of 30
cm between plant and plant, 60 cm between rows and 90 cm between beds. The rainy
season is the best time for planting. The system of planting will vary depending
on the topography of land and rainfall. There are 4 planting systems in vogue,
viz. flat-bed planting, furrow planting, contour planting and trench planting.
The field is prepared by ploughing, harrowing, etc., before planting. In the
hills, proper terracing is a necessity. According to the Department of Agricultural
Research and Education, ICAR, Government of India, the population density of
44,444 plants/ha with a spacing of 30cm x 60cm x 90cm is best for getting more
yield under rainfed conditions.
Although pineapple is grown mostly under rainfed conditions, supplementary irrigation
can help in production of good sized fruits in areas having optimum rainfall.
Irrigation can also be helpful in establishment of off-season planting to maintain
year-round production of fruits for feeding canning factories. Therefore in scanty
rainfall areas and years and during hot weather, irrigation (wherever the facilities
are existing) ensures a good crop of pineapple.
Fertilizer and Nutrient Management
Pineapple is a shallow feeder with high nitrogen and potassium requirement. Since
these nutrients are prone to heavy losses in the soil, practices relating to
time of application and the form of fertilizer determine their efficient usage.
Experts based on research trials conducted at a number of locations advise to
give N and K2O at 12 g each per plant. There is no need for P application. However,
if the soils are poor in P, 4 g of P2O5/plant can be applied. Nitrogen should
be applied in 6 split doses. The first dose of N can be given 2 months after
planting and the last dose 12 months after planting. Potash should be given in
2 split doses. Entire P and half the dose of K can be given at the time of planting
and the remaining K, 6 months after planting. Application of fertilizer under
rainfed conditions has to be done when moisture is available.
Earthing up is an essential operation in pineapple cultivation aimed at good
anchorage to plants. It involves pushing the soil into the trench from the ridge
where trench planting is a common practice. As the pineapple roots are very shallow,
the plants are eventually lodged especially under conditions of flat-bed planting
in heavy rainfall areas. Lodging of plants when the fruits are developing would
result in lopsided growth, uneven development and ripening of fruits. This operation
becomes more important in ratoon crops, as the base of the plant shifts-up, crop
after crop. High-density planting would minimize the necessity of this operation,
as the plants prop each other preventing lodging.
No serious pest or disease of pineapple is prevalent in India. However, Mealy
bug and Heart rot are important pest and disease respectively. Mealy bug : They
can be controlled by dipping the basal portion of the planting material in 0.02
to 0.05 % methyl parathion as a prophylactic measure. Application of carbofuran
@ 15 to 17kg per ha in affected plantation can effectively control the pest.
Heart rot : Application of Bordeaux mixture (4:4:50) or copper oxychloride @2g
per litre. Sucker should be dipped in fungicide before planting.
Besides pests and diseases, some fruit abnormalities make fruits useless. Multiple
crowns: Generally fruit bears a single crown but in some cases a fruit bears
more than 1 or even up to 25 crowns. Consequently, the top of the fruit will
be flat and broad and the fruit will be unfit for canning. Such fruits also taste
insipid and are more corcky. It is supposed to be heritable character, found
mostly in Cayenne group to which Kew belongs. Fruit and crown fasciation: Fasciated
fruits are deformed to such an extent, that they are totally useless. In certain
cases, the proliferation is so extreme that fruit is highly flattened and twisted
with innumerable crowns. Fruit and crown fascination is associated with high
vigour of the plants. Such plants took longer time to flower than the normal
ones. High fertility of the soil and the warm weather, the conditions highly
congenial for vigorous vegetative growth, may favour fasciation. The incidence
of fasciation was found increased wit the advancing ratoons. Collar of slips:
The collar of slips is typified by the presence of a large number of slips arising
the stem close to the base of the fruit, or even directly from the fruit itself.
The excessive slip growth is at the expense of the fruit, resulting in small,
tapered fruits, often with knobs at the base. High nitrogen fertilization and
high rainfall along with relatively low temperature are supposed to be congenial
for such an abnormality.
Harvesting and Handling of Pineapple
The period between planting and harvesting of pineapple is usually two to two
and half years. The stage of maturity at harvest is dependent on the required
storage or shelf-life and the method of transportation to the export markets.
The level of yellow coloration of the "eyes" of the fruit judges maturity.
Color stages are categorized as follows:
i. CS1: all eyes green, no traces of yellow;
ii. CS2: 5 to 20% of the eyes yellow;
iii. CS3: 20 to 40% of the eyes yellow;
iv. CS4: 40 to 80% of the eyes yellow;
v. CS5: 90% of eyes yellow, 5 to 20% reddish brown;
vi. CS6: 20 to 100% of eyes reddish brown
Fruits are mainly harvested during July-August. However, a small crop is harvested
during December to March also. By regulating the crop, harvesting is possible
almost 8 month a year.
Sugar content should be assessed in the field prior to harvesting to ensure adequate
sugar development. A minimum of 10% is generally required although this may vary
with the market. Sugar content is not always related to the colour stage as agronomic
and production factors will affect sugar development. For the export market where
sea-shipment for seven to fourteen days is used, fruits should be harvested at
CS1, where the fruits show no yellow colour development on the eyes (ensuring
that checks have been made on the sugar content). For air-freighted shipments,
although generally cost prohibitive, harvesting can be carried out at CS2 to
3. Those harvested at more advanced stages are more susceptible to mechanical
damage and over-ripeness. Fruit maturity can also be assessed on random samples
by determination of the flesh condition. This is carried out by slicing the fruit
horizontally at the point of largest diameter; in fruit for sea-shipment export;
the fruit should show limited development of translucent areas. Where more than
half of the area is translucent, the fruit is considered beyond optimum maturity.
Pineapples harvested by hand are snapped from the stalk using a downward motion.
The fruit should be placed in field crates and while in the field, left in shaded
conditions. Collection in the field and field to pack house transport using sacks
or bags will cause mechanical damage and increase the level of rejection. On
arrival at the packing facility, the stems and the crowns should be trimmed to
2 cm (0.5") and 10 cm (4") respectively. Out grading should be made
of all fruits which are undersize, oversize, over-ripe, under-ripe (depending
on the market requirements), damaged, bruised or show fungal or insect damage.
Economic life of a pineapple plantation is expected to be around 4 years. After
this the plot should be uprooted and replanted.
Marketing and export
There is always a very good demand of Indian pineapples in the internal markets.
in high demand from the processing industry as well. Indian pineapple is exported
to Nepal, U.K., Spain and U.A.E. The main products of export are canned slices,
titbits, juice etc.