Pineapple plants (Ananas comosus) are usually set out in twin/double or triple rows. A spacing of 1m from center to center of beds / ridges, rows 60cm apart within beds/ridges and plants 30cm apart within rows is recommended (30 x 60x 100cm) giving a plant population of 55,000 plants / ha.
Ensure that your suckers are ready like 1week before planting. Peel off the first two-leaf layers of the root base so as to expose the young roots, thereby hastening growth rate. While planting, ensure to plant the suckers at a depth of 10 cm.
Pineapple is a highly valuable fruit, and also a highly lucrative crop to grow because it is sold for both domestic consumption and for production of fruit juice.
It is imperative upon a farmer to select sweet and high yielding pineapple varieties like the Smooth Cayenne which is very popular or the Queen cultivar which produces sweeter but smaller fruits than the Smooth Cayenne but with spiny leaves which are difficult to work with.
Another cultivar popular across West Africa is the Red Spanish, a spineless cultivar, which has some level of resistance to mealy bug wilt disease, and is intermediate between the Smooth Cayenne and Queen.
To start pineapple production, it is very important that a farmer chooses a good farm with deep sandy loam, but could also be grown on other soil types provided organic matter is added and it’s free of water logging conditions.
It is fairly drought resistant, but performs best in an area with a well distributed rainfall of at least 1000mm per annum. It enjoys humid conditions and prefers soil with good water retention ability.
Secondly, the land should be cleared of stumps and ploughed in preparation for planting. Raised beds or making some raised beds for the planting.
Propagation: Pineapples could be grown from either the top (crown), sucker or by their slip (tiny plantlets at the bottom of the fruit).
Suckers are little plantlets that grow between the leaves of the mature pineapple.
Pineapple plants rely mostly on their leaves for water and nutrition, as such could be planted in a nursery and transplanted to the main field when they are about a foot tall so that you have rows of similar sized pineapples.
Planting should be done at the onset of rainy season or at any time in irrigated areas.
Spacing: Ideally, pineapples are planted in double row spacing at 60cm between the rows, 30cm between plants and about 100cm between adjacent double rows.
Ridging should be preferably done after planting the propagules 7cm to 10cm deep on a levelled ground.
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Nutritional requirement: Nitrogen fertiliser could be applied at the rate of 50 kg per hectare by broadcasting one month after planting.
Additionally, 41kg to 670kg per hectare should be applied at three to six months interval before maturity.
Harvesting: Pineapples mature 15-24 months depending on the planting material used. In harvesting, it is best to cut, rather than to break the fruit by the stalk.
• Weeds need to be effectively managed.
• At least two ratoon crops can be grown from the mother crop.
• Only one sucker should remain as the basis of the ratoon crop.
If you want fruit, plant pineapples in full sun in the hottest part of the garden. As foliage plants, pineapples grow well in part shade. Good drainage is important for growing pineapples. Select a spot that drains quickly and has sandy or loamy soil.
Pineapples can tolerate drought but do not survive well in wet conditions or areas that flood periodically. Amend the soil with 1 to 2 inches of compost before planting new pineapple plants to improve the soil structure and nutrients.
Cayenne and Queen cultivars
The Smooth Cayenne cultivar is used for both canning (75 % of which is exported) and as fresh fruit. The Queen, because of its high sugar content and unsuitable canning qualities, is cultivated only for fresh consumption. However, because production of the Queen pineapple is more costly, fresh consumption is shifting towards the Cayenne.
Cayenne plants and the fruit are normally larger than that of the Queen, with succulent yellow fruit. Queen fruit has a golden yellow colour and is less juicy.
Pineapples can be grown in a variety of soil types but prefer mildly acid soils (pH 5,5_6,5). However, there are certain requirements for successful pineapple production, which include:
Preparing the soil
- Remove trees, stumps and stones
- Subsoil (rip) to a depth of 800 to 900 mm under dry conditions
- Disc, plough and till the soil a number of times, to achieve a fine tilth, for effective plant rooting
- Ridge the soil for better drainage, temperature and to improve aeration
- Have soil samples analysed at least 6 months before planting to determine fertilisation and fumigation requirements
Unlike many other crops grown from seed, pineapples are grown by planting various parts of the plant according to the cultivar, where it is going to be produced, and the cultivation methods practised in the area.
Although crowns are mostly used as planting material for the Cayenne cultivar, they are considered uneconomical for the Queen cultivar because of the length of time they take to bear.
Read Also: Methods of Weed Control on a Pineapple Farm
Suckers are planted in the case of Queen pineapple production. Slips bear sooner than crowns but they require a great deal of labour (to break them out and to remove the small fruit attached to their bases). Stumps are generally used when no other planting material is available.
Plant pineapples between July and December.
- For rapid growth and uniform stand.
- The temperature during this time ranges from satisfactory to ideal.
Do not plant between February and April.
- Temperatures become progressively lower.
- Retarded growth, poor and uneven stand.
Farm planning, selection of soils and land layout
Consider the following factors when designing the layout of the land where you are going to plant pineapples as they will have an effect on production:
- Climate — is it warm, humid and frost free? The occurrence and intensity of rainfall should also be considered.
- Soil type — clayey loams or sandy soils are ideal for planting.
- Natural obstacles — rocky outcrops and vleis.
- Soil conservation — unprepared soil usually results in poor plant uniformity, root development and weed control.
- Position of windbreaks — to protect soil and crops.
- Topography — gentle slopes will require a layout different from that for steep slopes. Steep slopes are more difficult to manage and cultivate (more powerful machinery is required).
The aims in the layout of a pineapple land are to:
– Control water runoff and thereby limit soil erosion.
– Facilitate good drainage and prevent root and heart rot.
– Uniform distribution of sunlight to all plants.
– Have roads allowing machinery easy access to the pineapple plants (to expedite harvesting and spraying).