This post is long overdue as I have always wanted to share ways of growing pineapple successfully on my family farm. I have wrote several blog posts in the past about having a pineapple plantation and doing a research on pineapple soils in my final year project. This blog post will share a step by step guide of growing pineapple successfully (with pictures), please enjoy your reading…
Pineapple is one of the most extensively researched tropical fruit crops. Many aspects of production have been mechanized, and commercial cultural practices are highly refined.
SOIL PREPARATION. Soil should be well tilled. Addition of animal manures improves tilth, increases soil potassium, and may improve micronutrient availability. If the soil is imperfectly drained, beds at least 20 cm (8 inches) high should be formed. Pineapple thrive well in well drained sandy soil.
PLANT POPULATION. Field plantings of pineapple are usually in double-row beds. A population of approximately 58,700 plants/ha will result from beds 122 cm from center to center, rows 55 to 60 cm apart within beds, and plants 28 cm apart within rows.
NOTE: fruit size decreases about 45 g for each population increase of 2470 plants/ha.
MULCHING. Black polyethylene approximately 90 cm wide is used as mulch in most commercial plantings. As the mulch is rolled out on the planting bed, its edges are covered with soil. Planting holes are punched through the plastic with a trowel.
The mulch increases soil temperature in the root zone, helps to conserve soil moisture, promotes rooting by concentrating moisture in the root zone, and controls weeds. Mulches are not used in equatorial climates with high temperatures and rainfall.
Pineapple has high requirements for fertilizer N, potassium (K), and iron (Fe), and relatively low requirements for fertilizer phosphorus (P) and calcium (Ca). K is usually applied to the soil before planting and later may be sidedressed. Other nutrients sometimes including K are applied as foliar sprays or through the drip irrigation system, or by both methods, during the plant growth cycle.
P and Ca are usually banded in the plant line during bed preparation. Less fertilizer is required during the first five months after planting; requirements increase sharply afterward and peak at two to four months before floral initiation.
PREPLANT FERTILIZER. The need for fertilizer applications to the soil is best determined by soil tests. Calcium should not be applied if soil pH is greater than 4.6, because of the low plant Ca requirement.
If soils are low in P, approximately 75 kg/ha P should be banded beneath the plant rows. Applications of animal manures may reduce the need for supplemental applications of Fe and other micronutrients.
CROP COLOR. Crop color can indicate its nutrient status. Pale yellow-green is acceptable during the first five months from planting in regions with a 12- to 13-month vegetative growth period. From month 5 to month 8, apply sufficient N to shift leaf color toward a darker yellow-green. After month 8, apply enough N to produce dark green plants.
All yellow should be eliminated by the time of floral differentiation, or by the time N applications are suspended before forcing.
Flower initiation takes place at the terminal axis of the stem. This occurs naturally on short, cool days, usually in December.
The inflorescence is not externally visible for 45 to 60 days, when it appears in the center (heart) of the plant.
NOTE: The off-shooted sucker(pictured above) flowers in 6 months when planted, conversely the crown from the head of the matured pineapple takes one year!
DEVELOPMENTAL STAGES. Stages of development after its appearance are called half-inch open heart and one-inch open heart. At these stages, the center is open approximately 1.25 and 2.5 cm, and the red inflorescence is clearly visible below the opening.
Three to four weeks after the one-inch open heart stage, blue flower petals can be seen at the bottom of the cone-shaped inflorescence. Before all flowers have opened, the earliest petals will have begun to dry. After all petals have dried, the inflorescence is said to be at the dry petal stage. Its surface is dull, individual fruitlets (eyes) are pointed, and a crown has just begun to develop.
Acid soils are especially suited to pineapple. When soil pH is between 4.5 and 5.5, soil-borne diseases are reduced. Soil pH greater than 7.0 should be avoided. Good soil drainage is a necessity.
Where rainfall is high or soils are not well drained, soil management techniques to improve drainage must be used.
Pineapple tolerates low soil fertility, but best production is obtained with high fertility. High levels of soluble soil aluminum and manganese are tolerated. High soil organic matter and potassium status are desirable.
Weeds are controlled by black plastic mulch. To control weeds in bare soil areas between the mulch beds, registered preemergence herbicides cleared for pineapple may be used according to the instructions on the label. Some herbicide labels permit application of the herbicide as overtop sprays immediately after planting and at later stages during the crop cycle.
When flower initiation occurs, ripe fruit is harvested six to eight months later. Fruit is harvested by bending it over and twisting to remove it from the stalk.
SMOOTH CAYENNE. ‘Smooth Cayenne’ fruit is ripe when the individual eyes become flattened and glossy and when shell color turns yellow to yellow-orange. COlor development starts at the base and moves toward the top. ‘Smooth Cayenne’ is harvested when about one-third yellow for canning and when green for fresh fruit. Harvesting before ripening increases postharvest storage life, although harvesting when ripe is preferable for best fresh fruit quality. Cultivars other than ‘Smooth Cayenne’ may be green, yellow, red, or purple when ready to eat.
Below is my picture with a 3.2Kg Smooth Cayenne pineapple harvested from my family farm.
For further professional advise on commercial pineapple farming, contact me.