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Pineapple in India

Indian Pineapple-‘The King of Fruits’ is 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 forms.

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.

Pineapple Farming in India
 
 
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.

Season

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.

Soil

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.

Climate

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.

Varieties

The most popular commercial pineapple variety in India is Giant Kew. Other important verities are Queen, Kew, Mauritius, Charlotte, Rothchild, Jaldhup, Desi, Lakhat, etc.

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.

Cultivation

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.

Water Management

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.

Interculture

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.

Plant protection

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.

Fruit abnormalities

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

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. It is 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.
 
     

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