Wednesday, February 21Food Security Matters

Dragon Fruit Farming: How to Plant and Grow Pitaya

Dragon fruit farming is becoming popular in the Philippines and can be found in many backyards. There are large-scale farms and there are also small-scale backyard farms.

Several exotic fruits can be observed in the markets in recent years, although they are no longer new, they continue to call attention to points of sale. The peculiar appearance of fruits such as the dragon fruit or pitaya attracts attention for their contrasting colors, different shapes, and tasty and unique flavors. A fruit that has also been attributed to digestive properties.

Dragon fruit farm

Pitaya is a crop option that allows you to generate income even for those who only have a small planting area. This fruit has a high added value, is low in calories, and is rich in fiber, with excellent digestive qualities. The color of the fruit can be purple, red, or white, depending on the species, with red and yellow tones in its peel, in addition to the varied shapes of the fruit. Even the beauty of the plant, whose colorful flowers open at night in a vertical position, allows it to be used for ornamental purposes.

Characteristics of Dragon Fruit

Although it is an easy plant to cultivate, resistant to diseases and pests, and can be carried out in various regions of the world, the crop pitaya requires special care with the soil, irrigation, fertilization, pollination, and control of pests and diseases, especially in gardens of the commercial scale. Known worldwide as dragon fruit, Pitaya is originally from the American continent and has a large number of varieties such as the seleenicereus setaceus, the red pulp red pitaya (Hylocereus undatus), the red pulp red pitaya (Hylocereus costaricensis) and the Yellow Pitaya (seleenicereus megalanthus).

Belonging to the Cactaceae family, the Pitaya plant is a perennial and climbing cactus, which needs tutoring to support the sprout and growth of the plant, whose structures are heavy. The tutoring can be built with wooden, concrete, or tree trunks, with support of the same material at the top.

How to Plant Pitaya

Seedlings rooted in genetic, physiological, and sanitary quality can be purchased from other growers, accredited producers, and nurseries.

  • Temperature: between 18 ºC to 26 ºC.
  • Propagation is performed by rooting cladodes or cuttings lighting
  • Pitaya requires high luminosity but with a partial shadow of 30%.
  • Soil: sandy and sandy-loam texture soils and a pH of between 5.5 and 6.5
  • Spacing: between 2 and 4 meters
  • Fertilizer: 10 liters of corral bird manure in each hole
  • Pollination: the pollination of flowers is necessary in a natural way or artificial.

The environment is considered adequate for tropical temperature cultivation, which ranges from 18 ºC to 26 ºC, with an average of more than 1,200 mm of rain per year. The pitaya, however, is tolerant of warm and dry climates, getting conditions to cultivate in several regions of the world.

The propagation is performed by rooting the cuttings, rather, cladodes of 25 to 60 centimeters in length. You should also keep in mind that the selected stems must be at least two years old. After the cut, you must let the cutting heal for 3 to 7 days. It can be made by seeds, but the initial development of the crop is slow, delaying up to 7 years, in addition to fruiting and plants will show unequal growth and production.

Sowing the pitaya grows well in any type of soil, provided that acidity and fertility corrections are made. The soils that present the best conditions for the development of Pitaya are rich in organic matter, not compacted, and well-drained, with a sandy pH of between 5.5 and 6.5.

Dragon fruit farming requires high luminosity but in turn a partial shadow of 30%. Does not tolerate low temperatures and temperatures above 38ºC.

The space between the lines can vary from 2 to 5 meters, a distance that depends on or not on agricultural machinery for the handling of the garden. Among the plants, it indicates between 2 and 4 meters. The depth of the holes must be 60 centimeters. Fertilization for fertilization should be carried out by soil analysis. However, in general, 20 liters of corral manure or 10 liters of corral bird manure are used in each hole; or a mixture of the two plus 500 grams of dolomitic limestone, 300 grams of superphosphate, 200 grams of potassium chloride and 50 grams of fertilizer with micronutrients.

During the phases of development and production of the crop, it must be fertilized manually or by fertilization throughout the year, using organic matter and other sources of macro and micronutrients, especially nitrogen and potassium. Pitaya can be irrigated by using drip irrigation.

Dragon Fruit Farming Questions Answered

How long does dragon fruit take to grow?

Plants can begin flowering in as little as six to eight months, although container-grown plants may take up to two years to bear fruit. The good news is that once the plant is mature, you can see four to six fruiting cycles a year from a plant that is capable of bearing fruit for 20 to 30 years.

Is dragon fruit farming profitable in the Philippines?

Dragon fruit farming is profitable. Dragon fruit is among the most nutritious and wonderful exotic fruits in the world. Dragon fruit production is a profitable enterprise and a promising means of raising the income of farmers in the Philippines.

How many times can you harvest dragon fruit in a year?

Dragon fruits become ready for harvesting after 1 month of flowering. Fruiting time continues till December. Picking up these fruits can be done up to 6 times within this period.

What is the lifespan of a dragon fruit plant?

Dragon Fruit is estimated to live about 20 years and may produce up to 220 lb (100 kg) of fruit per year 3-4 years after planting. Full sun to part shade lover, this plant is not fussy about soil conditions as long they are well-drained and supplemented with high amounts of organic material.

Which month is best for planting dragon fruit?

There is no best time to plant dragon fruit. That’s because it can take several years for the plant to produce fruit. Growing from seeds it can take between 5 and 7 years to produce the first fruits.

How many dragon fruit plants per hectare?

The biggest advantage of this crop is that once planted, it will grow for about 20 years, and one hectare could accommodate about 800 Dragon fruit plants. More importantly, it is a fast-return perennial fruit crop with production in the second year after planting and full production within five years.

How much is dragon fruit per kilo in the Philippines?

The price of dragon fruit depends on location and season but normally, it is around ₱280 per kilo in Metro Manila. Could be lower in provinces.

Who owns the largest dragon fruit farm in the Philippines?

Editha Dacuycuy is the owner and manager of the REFMAD Farm in Paayas, Burgos, Ilocos Norte. She started the farm as a way to ease the condition of her special needs daughter, Kaye, but eventually, she promoted dragon fruit farming to the whole town of Burgos as well as other areas in Ilocos Norte.

How much space does a dragon fruit need?

As your dragon fruit seedlings continue to grow, thin them to give each new plant room. If you’re growing them indoors, transplant them to larger pots. A mature dragon fruit will eventually need at least a twenty-gallon pot (that’s at least twenty inches wide) for optimal health

Is dragon fruit trees easy to grow?

It’s especially easy in warm environments, but if you have a greenhouse or sun porch, you can grow dragon fruit in colder environments. Dragon fruit is an exotic fruit, and in most of the southern US, you can grow a dragon fruit plant in pots on your patio if you’re careful to protect it from cold weather.

How many dragon fruits per plant?

The average fruit yield per trellis plant ranged from 1.97 – 2.23 kg/trellis plant, and 3.24 -3.80 kg/trellis plant.

How many dragon fruits can be harvested in 1 hectare?

A 1-hectare dragon fruit can have a yield of 3.5 tons to 3.5 tons.

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