Pineapple is mostly grown at low elevations in areas with a temperature range of 15 to 30ºC.
PINEAPPLE (Ananas Comosus)
Pineapple is mostly grown at low elevations in areas with a temperature range of 15 to 30ºC. Pineapple is tolerant to drought because of the special water storage cells. They can be grown with a wide range of rainfall from 600-2500 mm / annum, the optimum being 1000-1500 mm. Pineapple can be grown in a wide range of soils, but does not tolerate waterlogging. It can be grown as a pure crop on plantation scale or as an inter-crop in coconut gardens.
The planting season is May-June. Planting should be avoided during the periods of heavy rains.
There are two varieties viz., Kew and Mauritius the cultivation practices of which are described separately.
Kew is a variety recommended for large-scale commercial cultivation in Kerala. The package of recommendations for its cultivation is detailed below.
Preparation of the land
Prepare the land for planting by ploughing or digging followed by levelling. Depending on the nature of land, prepare trenches of convenient length and about 90 cm width and 15-30 cm depth. The trenches are to be aligned at a distance of 165 cm from centre to centre.
Selection and treatment of suckers
Select healthy suckers of uniform size weighing 500-1000 g. Keep suckers in open space under shade in a single layer for about 7 days for drying. Strip off a few lower old dried leaves. Allow the suckers to dry and cure for another 7 days. Dip the cured suckers in 1% Bordeaux mixture at the time of planting.
Rake the soil and plant the suckers in double rows at spacing of 70 cm between rows and 30 cm between plants. Limit the depth of planting to 7.5 to 10 cm. Adopt triangular method of planting in each trench so that the plants in two adjacent rows are not opposite to each other (plant population 40400 / ha).
Apply compost / cattle manure at 25 t/ha as basal dressing. Apply fertilizers at the following dosage:
Per plant per year (g)
Per hectare per year (kg)
Apply full dose of P2O5 at the time of planting. Nitrogen and K2O may be applied in four splits, during May-June (at planting), August-September, November and May-June (2nd year)
Note: In places where rains are scanty during November, N and K2O may be applied in three equal splits – two doses in 1st year (May-June and August-September) and the third in May-June of the second year. After application of fertilizers, cover with soil by scraping the sides of trenches.
During summer months, pineapple should be irrigated wherever possible at 0.6 IW/ CPE ratio (50 mm depth of water). It requires five or six irrigations during dry months at an interval of 22 days. Mulching the crop with dry leaves at 6 t/ha will help to conserve moisture.
For effective and economic weed control, use weedicides. Pre-emergent spray with diuron 3 kg or bromacil 2.5 kg in 600 litres of water per hectare completely controls all types of weeds in pineapple plantation. If there is subsequent growth of weeds, herbicide application may be repeated at half the above dose. Spraying should be done when there is adequate moisture in the soil. Avoid periods of heavy rainfall for spraying.
Induction of flowering
For inducement of uniform flowering, apply 25 ppm ethephon (2-chloro ethyl phosphonic acid) in aqueous solution containing 2% urea and 0.04% calcium carbonate as follows:
The mixture (50 ml/plant) is to be applied pouring into the heart of 16-17 month old plants (39-42 leaf stage) during dry weather. For treating 1000 plants, 50 litres of the solution would be required. (The ingredients for preparing 50 litres of the aqueous solution are ethephon 1.25 ml, urea 1 kg and calcium carbonate 20 g, made up to 50 litres with water. The dosage has to be fixed depending on the availability of commercial formulation and the active ingredient contents)
Flowering will commence from 40th day after application and complete on the 70th day.
No serious pests or diseases are noticed in the crop except for light incidence of leaf spot disease and of the mealy bugs.
For control of leaf spot, spray with any one of the following fungicides when symptoms of the disease are noticed:
Bordeaux mixture 1%, 225 litre / ha
Zineb 1 kg in 225 litre water / ha
Mancozeb 1 kg in 225 litre water / ha
Ziram 1 kg in 225 litre water / ha
For control of mealy bugs, adopt the following measures: Apply quinalphos at 0.025%, fenitrothion 0.05% or fenthion 0.05%. Destroy grasses and other monocot weeds, which serve as alternate hosts for the pest.
Mauritius is recommended for commercial cultivation for table purposes and distant marketing, due to its shorter duration, better fruit quality, keeping quality and transportability.
Main season of planting is April-May and August-September, but can also be planted in all months except during heavy rain of June-July. The best time for planting is August. For getting maximum price and better keeping quality, the best planting time is April-May. During summer months, if there are no summer showers after planting, irrigation should be given three weeks after planting for proper establishment.
Mauritius can be grown as a pure crop in garden land, reclaimed lowlands and wetlands and as an inter-crop in coconut and newly planted rubber plantations. In rubber plantation, it can be grown for the first 3-4 years only.
Pure crop: Prepare the land by digging the area to be planted at 90 cm width in rows / strips, leaving the inter-spaces undisturbed. However, ploughing can be adopted in level land. Planting is done in paired rows of 45 cm distance between rows and 30 cm between suckers. Suckers may be planted in triangular method in the paired rows. Inter-space between the paired rows is kept at 150 cm. Contour planting may be adopted in sloppy areas.
Inter-cropping in coconut garden: Land preparation, spacing and planting are the same as described above. There can be three-paired rows in between two rows of coconut. Inter-cropping in rubber plantations: System of planting is in paired rows at 45 x 30 cm. There will be only one paired row of pineapple in between two rows of rubber.
Wetlands / lowlands: Pineapple is highly sensitive to water stagnation and high moisture regimes. Hence it is important to provide good drainage, if grown in wetlands. In paddy lands, pineapple is planted in paired rows at 45 x 30 cm spacing on ridges taken at 60-90 cm height, depending on the water table and drainage requirement. The ridges are separated by drainage channels having 60 cm width. The width of the ridges varies from 120-150 cm. Wherever water stagnation and poor drainage are expected, a wider and deeper channel is given in between ridges.
Selection of Suckers
Suckers are selected from disease and pest free healthy plants. Suckers are to be graded into those having 500-750 g and 750-1000 g. The graded suckers are planted in different blocks or plots, to get uniformity in growth and flowering. Bigger suckers give early yield. Dipping of suckers in 1% Bordeaux mixture and 0.05% quinalphos will protect the suckers against diseases and pests.
After preliminary land preparations, planting is done in small pits of 10-15 cm depth at a spacing of 45 cm between rows and 30 cm between plants in the rows. There is no need to plant the suckers in trenches.
Apply compost / FYM at the rate of 25 t/ha at the time of planting. Apply fertilizers at the rate of 8:4:8 g N:P2O5:K2O per plant per year. Full dose of P2O5 is applied as basal at the time of planting. Nitrogen and K2O are applied as four equal split doses after planting. First dose may be applied at 40-50 days after planting and thereafter at 60-70 days intervals.
Wherever irrigation facilities are available, providing irrigation in summer months at two weeks intervals results in good fruit size and high yield. If there is no irrigation facility, the crop should be scheduled for harvest before summer months (before March).
Pre-emergence (within a few weeks after planting) spray of diuron @ 1 kg/ha in 600 litres of water can keep the field free of weeds for about four months. For subsequent weed control, herbicide application is repeated. For controlling Mikania micrantha (vayara valli or American valli), spot-application of diuron can be adopted. Spraying should be done in moist soil, but avoiding rainy periods.
Weeds in interspaces can be controlled by spraying glyphosate 0.8 kg/ha or a mixture of 2,4-D 0.5 kg/ha and paraquat 0.4 kg/ha. While spraying in interspaces, care should be taken that the weedicide shall not fall on pineapple plant.
For inducing uniform flowering, 25 ppm ethephon is applied on physiologically mature plants having 39-42 leaves (7-8 months after planting). The solution for application in 1000 plants is prepared by adding 1.25 ml of ethephon (3.2 ml of 39% ethrel or 12.5 ml of 10% ethrel), 1 kg urea and 20 g calcium carbonate to 50 litres of water. Pour 50 ml of the prepared solution to the heart of the plant during dry weather conditions (when there is no rain during the time of application).
Flowering starts by 30 days and completes within 40 days of growth regulator application. Fruits will be ready for harvest by 130-135 days after the application of growth regulator. Harvest over different months / seasons could be obtained by carefully phasing / planning the planting and growth regulator application.
Sun burn: During summer months it is necessary to protect the fruits from scorching sun by putting dried grasses, coconut or arecanut leaves.
Root rot / heart rot / fruit rot caused by Phytophthora sp. is common in poor drainage conditions. Providing drainage is most essential. The water table should be at least 60 cm below the soil surface. Badly affected plants should be destroyed and the remaining plants should be drenched with 1% Bordeaux mixture in the soil. Leaf spot can be controlled by spraying 1% Bordeaux mixture or 0.2% zineb / mancozeb / ziram.
Mealy bugs (Dysmicoccus brevipes / Pseudococcus bromeliae): Spray quinalphos 0.025-0.05% or fenitrothion 0.05% or fenthion 0.05% or chlorpyriphos 0.05% or dimethoate 0.05% or monocrotophos 0.05%. Care should be taken that the spray shall reach the base and also the sides of the plant. The plot should be kept weed free. For the control of mealy bugs, control of ants is a must. Hence apply carbaryl to control ants in its colonies in the farm.
Scale insects (Diaspus bromeliae): The spraying of chemicals for the control of mealy bugs, mentioned above, will be sufficient for the control of scale insects.
The plant crop after harvest can be retained as ratoon crop for two more years. After the harvest of the plant crop, chopping the side leaves of the mother plant should be done for easy cultural operations. The suckers retained should be limited to one or two per mother plant. Excess suckers if any should be removed. Earthing up should be done. Other management practices are same as for the plant crop.