Table of Contents
- 1 Etymology
- 2 Pineapple varieties
- 3 Planting pineapple
- 4 Growing pineapple
- 5 Maintenance and care of pineapple
- 6 Diseases
- 7 Pests
- 8 Use of pineapple
- 9 History and facts
Pineapple (lat. Ananas comosus) originates from South America, but over the years the cultivation has spread fast to all tropical areas around the world. It is classified as a southern or subtropical fruit, same as pomegranate, avocado, banana, date, guava, kiwi, coconut, mango and papaya. It is popular for its fleshy fruits which are consumed in canned, dried and fresh form. The pineapple production for consumption is the largest in Southeast Asia.
The plant belongs to the family Bromeliaceae whose species have a characteristic epiphytic growth, but unlike them, pineapple grows in the ground. The height of the plant is between 1 to 1.5 m (3.3 to 5 ft), and the pineapple tree is surrounded by long leaves between 30 to 100 cm (12 to 40 in). It has narrow and cylindrical fruits whose colors vary from green to yellow.
There are two types of fruits:
- Wild fruits - have seeds and very pointed tips on the leaves
- Fruits for consumption - don't have seeds, but have smooth leaves and smaller fruits
The vegetation period lasts 18 months: 12 months for the plant to develop and 6 months for flowering and fruit ripening. It is a well-known fact that the pineapple is one of the healthiest fruit species as it is rich in iron, magnesium, calcium, potassium and zinc as well as vitamins B, C and E. They are used in food preparation but also to alleviate health problems such as various inflammations, and to improve the health of the digestive organs and the cardiovascular system.
The word "pineapple" comes from the Middle English word "pinappel" or "pinecone" that literally means "pine fruit" or "pine-apple" - equivalent to pine and apple. Due to the resemblance of the word to the word "pinecone" it later applied to the fruit.
If we compare it to post-Classical Latin word "pomum pini", the Old French word "pume de pin", French and Middle French word "pomme de pin" the Dutch and Middle Dutch word "pijnappel", the Old High German "pīnapful" and the Middle Low German word "pinappel" it clearly states that they all come from the word for "pine cone".
Pineapple comosus species have several subspecies, but only Pineapple comosus var. comosus is cultivated for consumption. Within this subspecies some cultivars differ from each other in morphological and physiological properties.
According to the classification of the international fruit trade, there are five main classes within which there are different varieties of pineapple.
The main classes are Smooth Cayenne, Spanish, Queen, Abacaxi and Pernambuco.
This class of pineapple is mainly grown in Hawaii and Honduras, although some species are also cultivated in the Philippines, Cuba, South Africa and Mexico. The stem is short and the weight of the fruit is between 1.5 to 3 kg (3.3 - 6.6 lb). The growth of the plant lasts longer than 18 months. Plants and fruits of varieties within classes can differ significantly. The most important varieties of this class are:
- MD-2 - is considered a standard variety and occupies 50% of the world pineapple market due to its stable yield. The fruits are cylindrical in shape, weigh 1.5 to 2 kg (3.3 to 4.4 lb), and are characterized by high sugar and low acid content. It can be stored for up to 30 days, which allows transport over long distances without losing fruit quality.
- Amritha - is characterized by very pointed and prickly leaves as well as a cylindrical shape of the fruit that weighs from 1.5 to 2 kg (3.3 to 4.4 lb). The period between planting and flowering lasts between 13 to 18 months. A small compact rosette develops at the top of the fruit, and the thickness of the rind is approx. 6 mm (1/4 in). It has low acidity and rich aroma.
Spanish or the Spanish group of pineapples has a characteristic reddish color and is mostly grown in Puerto Rico. Beneath the reddish rind is a pale yellow to white, fragrant flesh. Some of the varieties are Cabezona, Valera Amarilla Roja, Pina Blanca, etc.
The Queen Royal group has a greenish rind while the yellow flesh. The rosette has small, prickly leaves on the tips, and the weight of the fruit does not exceed 1.5 kg (3.3 lb). The most famous varieties within this group are MacGregor and Z-Queen.
The group is characterized by extremely juicy and sweet fruits and is mostly grown in Mexico and Venezuela. The weight of the fruit varies from 1 to 2.7 kg (2 to 6 lb), and the flesh has no fibrous structure. The most common varieties are Kona Sugarloaf and Black Jamaica.
Varieties of this group are of Brazilian origin and do not tolerate long-term storage, but they are in demand thanks to its very sweet fruits. Local varieties (Tard Sri Thong and Sriracha) such as Mauritius and dwarf pineapple are popular in Asia thanks to its specific dwarf appearance and very sweet and juicy flesh.
In addition to the species Pineapple comosus var. comosus, there are other varieties of pineapple, some of which give edible fruits, but of lower quality, so they are mostly used in the industrial production as soft drinks or are grown as ornamental plants.
Pineapple comosus var. ananassoides
A subspecies of wild pineapple that is mostly grown in Venezuela, Brazil and Paraguay. They grow in arid but also tropical, humid climates. The height is between 90 to 100 cm (approx. 3 ft), and the plant is specific for its dwarf fruits which, due to their very sweet taste, are grown for consumption, as well as an ornamental plant. The leaves are hard and sharp, approx. 90 to 240 cm (3 to 8 ft) long, and the flowers are reddish and about 15 cm (6 in) in size.
Pineapple comosus var. erectifolius
Originally from South America, this subspecies has no economic significance because the fruits have a purely decorative purpose, so they are grown in gardens as an ornamental plants.
Pineapple comosus var. paraguayensis
This wild species mostly grows in Colombia, Venezuela, northern Brazil and Guyana. It is specific for its pale, soft leaves and highly developed rosette. It is cultivated as an ornamental plant.
Pineapple comosus var. bracteatus
The plants have characteristic bright red fruits, which is why this variety is grown for decorative purposes. The leaves are about 1 m (3 ft) long with thorns on the edges. Red occurs if a plant is cultivated in well-lit conditions. This species can be cultivated in gardens as a hedge or in flower beds, while, if planted in containers, they can also be grown indoors.
When planting pineapples in the garden, it is necessary to provide optimal conditions because cold weather can harm the plant. If the external conditions are not optimal, the pineapple can be grown as a houseplant, although it will provide less and smaller fruits. The plant should be strengthened first. After 3 months the first transplant needs to be done, and the second transplant needs to be done after a year.
Pineapple blooms between 10 and 20 months after planting. The fruits appear in the spring, causing the plant to begin to decay, but at the same time, 2 - 3 shoots appear. After two years, when the leaves are completely wilted, the plant can be transplanted.
Keep in mind that it will take at least one year of growing for pineapple to fully grow to its size. If you plant it from the seed, the germination depends on the temperature, so if you're planting seeds in the summer you can leave the pot outdoors, but if it's cold outside, the plant should be planted indoors. Either way, the planting time depends on the temperature and whether you plan on planting it outdoors on indoors.
Planting from seed
Pineapple has very small seeds, only 3 to 4 mm (1/5 in) in size, so good preparation is needed to allow germination. This makes this method of cultivation somewhat more complex than growing pineapple from seedlings.
Before planting, the seeds should be placed on a moist substrate for about 18 to 24 hours and placed in a warm room. After swelling, they should be planted in pots or containers containing a mixture of peat and sand, to a depth of 1 to 2 cm (1/2 in). The onset of germination depends on room temperature. If the pots are kept at room temperature about 24 to 25°C (75 to 77°F), it'll take approx. 4 to 6 weeks for germination to start, and if the temperature is 30 to 32°C (86 - 90°F), germination will start after 3 weeks.
Planting by seedling
Planting pineapple seedlings is the safest and easiest way to grow pineapples. After obtaining the roots from the top shoots, i.e. the rosette, the pineapple should be planted in a prepared substrate during the spring.
If you plan on planting it for commercial purposes (plantation cultivation), pineapple is planted so that, after the development of the fruit, seedlings develop under it. After that, they are separated from the parent plant and transplanted to a new plot.
The optimal planting is 1 seedling / m2 (1 seedling / 10 ft2). In some areas with an extremely suitable growing climate, pineapple can be grown by planting the fruit, which is a long process because the first fruits can be grown only after 3 years.
For successful cultivation make sure you provide light and airy soil that is rich in nutrients as well as a good drainage system. It is recommended to put ripe apples around the plant, which release ethylene and stimulates flowering. The optimum soil temperature is between 21 to 32°C (70 - 90°F).
Preparing the soil for planting
Before planting, it is necessary to enrich the soil with a large number of nutrients, preferably with fertilizers and humus, in order to achieve high fruit quality. The soil must not be compacted during planting.
From planting to the appearance of intensive leaf growth, pineapple should be kept in partial shade to avoid damaging the young leaves. Only after that it can gradually be exposed to direct sunlight. In late winter and early spring, place the plant to direct sunlight for several hours to encourage fruit growth. The minimum temperature for growing is 10°C (50°F), and the annual optimum temperature ranges from 18 to 29°C (64 - 84°F).
Pineapple should be watered about once a week when the soil is completely dry. If grown in pots, it is best to soak the whole pot. During the winter, water it every two weeks. If grown indoors, it is necessary to ensure sufficient humidity. Occasionally spray the leaves with water, especially during the summer months.
Successful pineapple cultivation requires adequate fertilization, and watering / irrigation. In addition, it is necessary to ensure a favorable soil structure.
In warmer climates, pineapple is most often grown as a houseplant for easier control of climatic conditions. As it requires humidity, it can be combined in the room with species that have similar requirements, such as bromeliads, aloe vera, gardenia, dieffenbachia, ferns and the like.
Growing pineapples on a plantation
For mass production, pineapples are grown on plantations in tropical regions all around the world. The biggest trade organizations can be found in Asia, the southern United States, South Africa and Australia. After early ripening, select large fruit varieties and place cuttings that are about 20 cm long in the ground, at a distance of 1.5 to 2 m between the two plants. This is usually done by machines.
Growing pineapples in a greenhouse
Pineapples have been grown in greenhouses in Europe since the 17th century. Today, cultivation is facilitated by the application of modern technology such as irrigation, fertilization and providing additional artificial lighting from 6 to 8 hours. Under these conditions, the fruits do not lag far behind. The optimal temperature in the greenhouse must be between 23 to 30°C (73 - 86°F) because otherwise, there is a possibility of the appearance of diseases and pests. When preparing the soil, mix garden soil, humus, perlite, peat and chopped charcoal. Some pineapple varieties can be grown in acidic soil with a pH between 4 to 5.
Growing pineapples in a container
After the development of the roots, the pineapple can be transplanted in a container. Keep the soil loose, i.e. when planting, the soil must not be pressed hard so that the root has enough air to develop. It is advisable to put stones on the bottom of the container to ensure good drainage, as well as abundant soil fertilization.
For optimal growth of pineapple (if planted in a container), watering is required once a week during the summer months, and the soil must be completely dry until the next watering. The container or a pot should be immersed in water, after which it must be left to drain.
During the winter, it is enough to water the plant once every 2 weeks. If cultivation is done in a greenhouse, irrigation is recommended, and the water temperature should not be colder than the air temperature.
It is also necessary to pay attention that irrigation doesn't cause stagnation of water in the soil, as it could cause the root to rot.
At the beginning of the plant development, pineapple should be fertilized every two weeks. Use liquid fertilizer with the same NPK ratio (twice lower concentration than for other potted plants). In the winter months, top-fertilization is required once a month, while later it should be done only twice a year (February and July).
Maintenance and care of pineapple
When growing pineapples in containers, plants need to be prepared for winter by removing dry leaves. If you planted pineapple in the summer, keep in mind that it should be transplanted in a bigger container in the spring. This way the plant will bear fruit next season. It is necessary to regularly remove excess shoots and dry leaves or fruits.
Pineapple can be propagated vegetatively, with top shoots that are removed when the plant reaches 35% of the height of the adult plant.
There are two ways of vegetative propagation:
- Method 1 - cut off the top of the pineapple and put it in a bowl of water and leave it in a sunny place. Soon after the root will develop.
- Method 2 - it is necessary to cut the rosette near the fruit and remove the lower leaves to the inner, long leaves, which are then placed in water until the roots develop.
Both methods are effective, and after about 2 weeks, the plant can be transplanted in a large pot, preferably during the spring.
After fruit formation, it takes 3 to 6 months to ripen, depending on the variety. The beginning of fruit ripening can be noticed when the color of the fruit changes from green to yellow. Ripe fruits can also be recognized by their sweet smell. Harvesting begins when at least 2/3 of the fruit turns yellow, and if harvested earlier, it should be left at room temperature to ripen.
Pineapple fruits can be dried in several ways: in the oven, in a dehydrator and in the sun.
Drying in the oven
Before drying, the pineapple should be cut into cubes and evenly distributed on the baking paper. The oven should be preheated to 65°C (149°F), and the pineapple cubes need to be dried for at least 24 to 36 hours. The temperature should not be higher than 75°C (167°F) because only the surface part will dry while the inside will remain moist, which is not convenient for storage.
Also, it is necessary to monitor the drying time so that it does not stay in the oven for too long, as it can result in hard fruits.
Drying in a dehydrator
This is the safest drying method. The fruits should be cut into thin slices that are evenly distributed on the dehydrator thin. On average, drying takes from 35 to 37 hours, at a temperature of 57 to 60°C (134 to 140°F).
Drying in the sun
Pineapple slices should be evenly distributed on a thin and covered with a clean gauze in order to protect them from insects. It needs to be put in the sun, and during the night move it to a dry place so as not to pick up moisture. This drying process takes about 4 days if the temperature is at least 30°C (86°F). In the first weeks after drying, it is necessary to check the fruits to possibly remove the molded ones.
After harvesting, the pineapple must be fully ripe in order to be stored in the refrigerator, otherwise, the fruit will be damaged and the quality will be lost. The storage temperature should be at least 7 to 8°C (45 to 47°F), and the fruits should be stored in the refrigerator to delay rot. This way, the fruits can be stored for up to 10 days without losing quality. When it comes to storing pineapples at room temperature you can safely leave them for 2 to 3 days. When cut into pieces and stored in the refrigerator it can stay fresh for up to 6 months.
Various diseases of the plant occur due to inadequate growing conditions. In addition to disease, damage to pineapples can also be caused by pests that mainly occur when the humidity is too low.
The most common diseases are leaf drying and rot.
At low humidity and high temperatures, the leaves dry out. It is necessary to move the plant to a cooler place and spray the leaves with water.
Usually begins at the bottom of the fruit, which is a sign of excessive soil moisture, stagnant water and low air temperature. The plant should be moved to a warmer area with more light and the soil allowed to dry before watering again.
A big problem with growing pineapples are pests which, if not noticed in time, can cause great damage to the plant. The most common are woolly lice, fruit flies and mites.
Woolly lice (Pseudococcidae) looks like clumps of wool, after which they got their name. They do damage by sucking plant sap causing the drying of the infested parts of the plant. Due to the secretion of a wax coating, the development of fungal diseases is possible. They most often occur in conditions of low humidity.
It is recommended that you do preventive protection measures because they are very difficult to control due to the waxy coating. In case of a weak attack, it is necessary to remove them manually with the help of tweezers or pouring warm water. You can also put cotton wool dipped in alcohol, but keep in mind that it is necessary to rinse the plant with water after this process. In case of a more intense attack, eco-preparations are recommended: potassium soap, tobacco or garlic insecticide.
Fruit flies (Ceratitis capitata) cause depigmentation, uneven fruit ripening, fermentation and decomposition. The attack of fruit flies can be prevented by placing baits in the form of an inverted funnel in which ripe fruit is placed, which attracts them with its scent.
Mites (Dolichotetranychus floridanus) do damage to leaves and fruits in the form of leaving large dark spots that cause necrosis and decay. They are especially harmful to young plants with no fruits that after the attack become stunted and unusable.
In order to prevent their attack, it is necessary to check the plants in the stages of planting, blooming and immediately before harvest, to apply acaricides on time, i.e. means to control harmful mites.
Use of pineapple
Pineapple is grown for its juicy and nutrient-rich fruits that are most often consumed fresh. It has a high content of vitamins A, B and C, manganese, copper, potassium, antioxidants and enzymes, among which bromelain stands out.
Pineapple in medicine
Pineapple has a wide application in alleviating health problems. Especially important is bromelain, which is found in fresh pineapple, and helps break down proteins as well as stimulates digestion. Also, it has anti-inflammatory properties and is thought to help relieve pain in people with arthritis, and bromelain has been shown to enhance white blood cell function. Due to the high content of vitamins and minerals, the consumption of pineapple strengthens the immune system and purifies the skin.
Pineapple in cooking
Although it is most often eaten fresh and canned, pineapple can be a great addition to some savory dishes, so pineapple juice can be used in marinades where its enzymes make the meat softer.
It is most commonly used in Asian cuisine where it is combined in various sweet-sour-spicy combinations with pork or chicken. It is used in various fruit salads, but also in combination with onions, fresh cucumbers, mint, hot peppers, and can also be one of the ingredients on pizza or in a hamburger.
When preparing desserts and creams with gelatin, it is necessary to use canned pineapple because cooking eliminates bromelain, which prevents gelling.
History and facts
Pineapple originates from South America and is believed to have been discovered in 1493 by Columbus in the Caribbean. Throughout history, the pineapple wasn't available in all countries due to difficult transportation, but with the development of maritime transport, it began to be one of the most cultivated plants in all areas of the tropical climate.
In the 17th century, it was first grown in a greenhouse in the Netherlands from where it was exported to England. After that, pineapple began to be cultivated as an ornamental plant.
The name "pineapple" comes from the word "apple", which is taken from the Tupi tribe and means "excellent fruit". The pineapple looks like a cone, so the English name "pineapple" came from the Spanish word "piña", which means cone, and the English word "apple". It is known in the world as a sign of welcome.
The fruit of the pineapple is specific because of the way it is formed. Namely, the fruit is formed by merging a large number of flowers (up to 200 flowers).
Pineapple that we buy in stores most often comes from Southeast Asia.
Photo: 272447 / Pixabay