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Agriculture > Fruit Crops > Pineapple (Ananas comosus)

Crop Management

Organic Farming

Cultural & physical methods

Preparation of land

An area with 30-40% slope is generally selected for pineapple cultivation.  Cow dung is then incorporated into the soil by hoeing.  The land is levelled after ploughing to facilitate uniform distribution of water & nutrients.  Alternate criss cross rows are made using bamboo across the slope, which helps in soil and water conservation.  However, in most hill areas of north east India, the fields are not ploughed but uniform rows are demarcated either across the slopes or along the slopes where the suckers are planted at uniform spacing.

Propagation

Pineapple is propagated vegetatively through suckers, slips, crown and disc.  Plants grown from suckers produce fruit in 15-18 months, whereas those from slips, crown and discs take 20-22 months after planting.  Suckers and slips are cured by stripping off the lower leaves followed by drying in the sun or in partial shade for about a week before planting.  This curing is done to avoid  rotting of plants after they are planted.  Suckers can be treated by dipping them in a mixture of a Cow pat pit/ Amrit Pani/ Jeevamrut/ Panchgavyaetc as per convenience.  Then they are dried for 6-10 hours.  When such treated suckers are used for planting, it may result in healthy plants and high yields.

Planting

Planting is done either in flat beds where there is no danger of waterlogging, or in shallow trenches that are filled as the suckers grow and develop.  Care should be taken to see that the bud or heart of the sucker does not get buried.  Single or double row system of planting is followed.  Planting is done in about 8-10 cm deep holes with perfect alignment.

Spacing

In single row system of planting, plants are spaced 30-60 cm apart with a spacing of 75 cm between rows.  In double row system, the spacing is 30 cm between plants, 60 cm between rows and 1-1.5 m between double rows from centre.

Planting time

The best time for planting of pineapple suckers is during the rainy season between June to August. Suckers are planted directly in the main field after giving treatment.  Many farmers in the region generally plant without any treatment.

Crop specific agronomic practices

An optimum planting density is important for obtaining fruits of good size and quality.  For cultivation of pineapple in flat beds, a planting density of 43,000 plants per hectare is considered optimum, keeping a distance of 30 cm between plants, 60 cm between rows and 90 cm between beds.  The interspaces are intercropped with seasonal pulses or vegetables of short duration.

In double row system, planting is done with a spacing of 25 cm x 50 cm x 80 cm for a total plant population of 61,538 plants per hectare.  Close spacing pattern is suitable for hill areas on terraces to prevent soil erosion.

The plantation is allowed to remain on the same site for 4-5 years after which the plants are removed and new plants are planted.

Incorporation of farm yard manure/composts as per their availability, and application of microbial enhancer are effective in improving physical, chemical and microbial properties of the soil.

Specific crop requirement and source

Sufficient quantities of biodegradable materials of microbial, plant or animal residue should be returned to the soil to increase or at least to maintain its fertility and the biological activity within it.  The following doses of nutrients are required for pineapple:

Dose

N:P:K

Per plant per year (g)

8:4:8

Per hectare per year (kg)

320:160:320

A dose of 25 t/ha of compost / cattle manure can be applied as basal dressing for pineapple.  The green leaf and compost or cattle manure may be broadcasted around the plant after weeding and mixed with soil by light hoeing or forking.

Water management

Requirement

During summer months, pineapple should be irrigated wherever possible.  It requires five or six irrigations during dry months at an interval of 20- 25 days.

Conservation techniques

Growing of green manure crops at the onset of monsoon in between two rows help to suppress weed growth, prevent soil erosion and add organic matter to the soil.  Cover crops like sweet potato can also be grown to conserve moisture in the soil.  Mulching with straw and other plant materials is an important method practiced by the farmers.

Crop protection

Organic farming system should be carried out in a way that ensures that those losses from pests, diseases and weeds are minimized.

Weed management

Weeding is generally done twice a year, the first a month or two after planting in the month of August or September and the second in the month of October – November.  It is carried out periodically to keep the area clean.  The uprooted weeds are either used for making organic compost or as mulch to conserve water/moisture during winter/dry months.  Growing green manure crops/ cover crops/ green legume crops and mulching with weed slashing and shade tree leaf litter etc also suppress weed growth.

Mealybug

Mealy bug is the most widely distributed and probably also one of the most damaging pests.  The rapid spread of this malady in field is due to feeding habit of bugs.  Often before visual symptoms appear, mealy bugs leave infected plants and move to nearby healthy ones.  Symptoms first appear on roots, and they are seldom observed because of being underground.  The roots cease to grow, eventually leading to collapse of tissues.  The predominant symptom is wilting of leaves, commencing from leaf tips.  Reddish yellow colour develops in the wilting areas.

Others

Other pests that appear sporadically in eastern India are stem borer (Metmasius ritchiei) and scale insect (Diaspis bromeliae).  Other minor pests are fruit and stem borer (Tecla echion), termites, pineapple bug (Carpophilus hemipterus) and pineapple mite or red mite (Stigmacus floridanas) and pineapple scale (Diaspis bromeliae)

Animals

Common animals that attract pineapple are the rodents, monkeys, squirrels, wild boar, porcupines, and birds.

Rats affect mature or ripe pineapple fruits.  Spreading pieces of colocassia in the field or in storage gives a reasonable control.

In hilly terrain monkeys, eat and destroy pineapple.  Squirrels affect the pineapple field.  Wild boar and porcupines feed on the roots of pineapple.  A number of birds, especially crows and peacock feed on ripe pineapples.  Mechanical trappings are the traditional and effective ways of controlling these menaces.

Nematodes

Reductions in crop yield, particularly in ratoon crops are caused by root knot nematodes of Meloidogyne genus.  The other genera that cause root lesions or penetrate into roots of pineapple are Pratylenchus and Rotylenchus.  Initially when nematode population is low, plants do not exhibit any symptoms.  But later with increase in population, plant growth is restricted and finally chlorosis appears on leaves.  Plant material infested with nematodes should be destroyed and only healthy plant material should be used for new planting.

Diseases

Butt rot/ Leaf Rot / Base Rot/ Fruit Rot

The fungus Ceratostomella paradoxa cause rotting in planting material, fruits, plant stem and live under high moisture and high humidity.  Base or butt rot of planting material occurs when they are not dried properly and are packed with little aeration.  Fungus also destroys older plants by entering through wounds caused in the collar region during weeding or other intercultural operations.  Leaf rot, base rot and fruit rot are caused by Ceratostomella paradoxa throughout the pineapple growing areas.  Treatment of suckers in biodynamic liquid pesticides prepared from fermentation of cow dung, urine and leaves a from local materials should be evaluated.

Black Rot or Soft Rot

This occurs in ripe fruits mostly after harvest if there is delay of some days between harvest and utilization.  The casual organism is same as that of butt rot.  Occurrence of black rot is common.  The fungus makes its entry through wounds caused during picking and packing.  Infestation starts at the stalk end of the fruit, resulting in small, circular, water soaked spots that are soft.  Gradually, fruit rots and emits foul smell.  Avoiding injury to fruit during harvest and transit will prevent disease occurrence.

Heart Rot or Stem Rot and Root Rot

The disease is caused by Phytophthora cinnamomi and Phytophthora parasitica.  Infection due to P. cinnamomi is limited to areas of warmer and low rainfall areas.  On the other hand, P. parasitica causes heart rot in warmer and somewhat drier areas.  This organism is commonly seen in India.  Poor physical condition of the soil and inadequate drainage are responsible for spread of the soil and frequently associated with alkaline soils but is not limited to them only.  In this, green leaves turn yellowish green and tips turn brown.  The central whorl of leaves when affected will come out with a gentle pull.  Basal portion of the leaves shows signs of rotting and emits foul odour.  Providing adequate drainage in the field, selection of healthy material for planting and treating suckers with cowdung slurry or biodynamic preparation could manage the disease.

Leaf Spot/Yellow Spot

Leaf spot occurs frequently in moist, warm, climate of eastern India.  Small water soaked areas developed on leaves, which gradually enlarge.  The affected portions become pale yellow in colour and gradually dry up.  This disease is also caused by Phytophthora spp.  Control measures are similar to heart rot.

Yellow spot affects both plants and fruits and is caused by a virus (tomato spotted wilt), which is transmitted through thrips from hosts such as Emilia sanchifolia, a well-known composite weed.  Eradicating weed hosts may help in checking spread of this disease.

Management:

Majority of the pests and diseases can be effectively kept under check by judicious maintenance of microclimate.  The pests can be controlled by an integration of physical, cultural and biological methods including plant-based preparations permitted.

Following Preparations are used for Control:

  • Dilute 1 litre of cow urine in 10 litre of water and wet the whole plant at the rate of 200-300 litre/ha at regular intervals.

  • 12.5 kg of fresh cow dung and 12.5 lit of cow urine are collected in earthen pot and mixed thoroughly with 12.5 litre of water.  The pot is covered and the mixture is allowed to ferment for a week.  Occasionally it is stirred with a stick.  After a week of fermentation, the mixture is filtered and 100 g of lime is added.  The obtained concentration is diluted at 1: 10 ratio (One part solution in 10 parts of water) and sprayed on crop at the rate of 200-250 litre per hectare.

  • 2% Neem oil mixed with any detergent powder @ 40-50 g for 100 litre is used as spray solution.

  • Neem seed kernel extract (NSKE) can be used as a prophylactic (preventive) before the onset of pests.

  • Chili garlic soup is effective as an insect repellent against most of the insects.

  • Tobacco tea is effective against most of the pests.

  • About 500 gm of tobacco leaves, 1 kg of neem kernel, 500 g lime powder, 500 g datura leaves and 500 g pods & seeds of oleander (Nerium oleander) are powdered and mixed together, then soaked in 15 litre of water for 15 days.  On alternate days, the mixture needs to be stirred with a stick.  After 15 days 1 litre of filtrate is mixed in 15 litre of water and sprayed on the crop.  It is enough for 2.5 ha and is a multi–pests repellent.

  • Cow dung spray minimizes disease development.  A suspension of fresh cow dung (500 g in 10 litre of water) is prepared and strained through a muslin cloth.  The suspension is sprayed on the infected crop twice at weekly interval.

Harvesting

It takes about 15-20 months to get the matured crop.  Usually flowering takes place from February to April and fruits are ready from July to September.  Sometimes off-season flowers appear and they produce fruits during winter, which are of poor quality.  The fruits are harvested when they just become yellow and the angularities of eyes start reducing and bracts wither.

Post-harvest management 

Cleaning

Pineapple fruits are cleaned by removing the leaves and stalk from both ends.

Drying

After harvesting the pineapple fruits are kept in shade.

Grading

The fruits can be separated and graded according to the size.

Packaging

Waste generating packaging material is to be avoided.  The use of material for packaging should be eco-friendly.  Clean bamboo baskets are used for packing pineapple both at farm as well as at processing stage.

Storage treatments

Adequate ventilation is required for short duration storage, whereas refrigerated system is suggested to slow down ripening during long storage.  Care should be taken to prevent bruising during harvesting and packing.  Fruits have to be adequately protected against fungal infection.  The level of atmospheric oxygen in transport container can be reduced to slow down respiration.

Source: IFAD

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