Organic Pineapple Cultivation – Farming In India

Introduction to Organic Pineapple Cultivation

Pineapple is a tropical fruit and its botanical name is Ananas comosus and its family is Bromeliaceae. It is a good source of Vitamin A and Vitamin B and rich in Vitamin C and calcium. It also contains phosphorus and iron. Pineapple trees tolerate a range of conditions as long as they receive bright, all-day sunlight and have well-draining soil. A harvest of high-quality, sweet fruits requires paying extra attention to soil nutrients. In this article we also discuss the below topics about Pineapple cultivation;

  • How often should Pineapples be watered?
  • Organic Pineapple cultivation practices
  • Pineapple production in India
  • Organic Pineapple cultivation time
  • Which season does Pineapple grow in India?
  • How Pineapple is cultivated
  • Pineapple growing areas in India
  • How many Pineapples can you get from 1 plant?
  • Pineapple growing season in India

A Step by Step Guide to Organic Pineapple Cultivation in India

In organic Pineapple farming, no chemical fertilizers or pesticides are used. Usually, farmers use urea to increase the weight of the Pineapple, which is not used in organic Pineapple cultivation. Because the Pineapple trees cannot be treated (dipping) with insecticides or fungicides on organic Pineapple plantations, the farmer is forced to pay particular attention to the quality and origin of the shoots that means diseases that can be transmitted from crop to crop. This is particularly the case for shoots that have been bought. It is recommended to use shoots from the plantation itself and to work carefully. Organic Pineapple earns a premium price on the market compared to conventional Pineapple varieties.

Depending on the conditions, organic farming methods may yield less than conventional farming methods. Though, the premiums are high with organic farming as most organic produce is sold for 20-30% more than conventional produce. Thus with less start-up debt and higher profits, an organic farm can be more successful in a short amount of time. An organic farm requires less capital investment than a conventional farm, and then it does not require the purchase of chemical fertilizers. Generally, farmers take out large loans to get started, but organic farmers don’t rely on chemicals this means taking less of a blow if the crop yield is low in a particular year.

Organic Pineapple Production in India
Guide to Organic Pineapple Production (Pic Source: Pixabay)

In the majority of organic Pineapple production, local varieties are planted together with other crops either in agroforestry or mixed crop systems. The farming plan will depend upon which cultivation form is adopted means agroforestry system and crop-rotation etc. To prepare the land used for organic Pineapple production green manuring plants like e.g. Vigna unguiculata, Mucuna capitate, or Crotolaria juncea can be sowed before the Pineapple trees.

Commercial Pineapple Varieties in India

There are different varieties of Pineapple which are commonly grown all over the world. Giant Kew is the popular commercial Pineapple variety in India. Other important Pineapple varieties are Queen, Kew, Mauritius, Giant Kew, Charlotte, Rothchild, Jaldhup, Desi, and Lakhat, etc. The ‘Kew’ variety belonging to the Cayenne group is the leading commercial Pineapple variety. Its properties are considered suitable for canning purposes. ‘Charlotte Rothchild’ is a Pineapple variety that is partly under cultivation in Kerala and Goa.

Pineapple Production in India

Pineapple is an important fruit of India and it is cultivated in an area of 89 thousand ha and total production is 1,415.00 thousand tons. Pineapple is grown in the entire North East region, West Bengal, Kerala, Karnataka, Bihar, Goa, and Maharashtra states.

Pineapple is one of the commercially important fruit trees of India. Total annual world production is estimated at 14.6 million tonnes of Pineapple fruits. India is the 5th largest producer of Pineapple with an annual output of about 1.2 million tonnes. Other leading Pineapple producers are Thailand, Brazil, China, Nigeria, Mexico, Indonesia, Colombia, and the USA. Brazil, Thailand, the Philippines, Costa Rica, China, and India are the major Pineapple growing countries in the world.

Soil and Climate Requirement for Organic Pineapple Cultivation

Pineapple requires moderate temperature and high humidity. The optimum temperate level is 21 to 23°C. A well-distributed rainfall of 150 c. m. per year is adequate for Pineapple cultivation. The crop is grown on light to medium soils. Soils must be well-drained. Sandy loams, laterites, and slightly acidic soils with pH levels of 5.5 to 6 are suitable for crop cultivation.

Pineapple trees prefer sandy, loamy soil that has a neutral to slightly acidic pH. Prepare soil for Pineapple trees by mixing a small amount of organic compost or manure into the soil’s top 12 inches, ideally about 1 week before planting. The compost helps the soil retain water and vital nutrients, aiding Pineapple root development. Then, applying a thin layer of natural mulch, such as wood chips or bark, after planting helps to improve the nutrient quality of the top layer of soil.

Preparation of Land for Organic Pineapple Cultivation

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

Plant Spacing and Curing of Planting Materials in Organic Pineapple Cultivation

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

The planting material is to be stored under shade for about 14 days. For curing and scaly leaves are removed from about 2 to 5 cm of the stem base to expose root initials and trim the lower end of the stem leaving it exposed for 4 to 5 days before planting. Planting can be done after treatment to reduce mortality in the field by Neem oil 5 ml/liter solution to protect against Mealy-bugs and Tricodrema harzanium (0.1%) for Heart rot. The bud should not be covered with soil. Uniformity of planting material is essential for carrying out cultural operations easily at a time.

Propagation Methods for Organic Pineapple Cultivation

Pineapple is mainly propagated by vegetative method; slips, suckers, crowns, and disc are used for its multiplication. Slips are best for Pineapple planting. The commonly Pineapple propagating materials used are;

1. Suckers – the weight of Suckers should be 500-750g

2. Slips – the weight of Slips should be 300- 400g the plants obtained from slips produce uniform fruit and yield

3. Crown – Flowering in 478 to 492 days after planting.

Pineapple is mostly propagated vegetatively through suckers, slips, crowns, and disc. Pineapple plants grown from suckers produce fruit in 15-18 months, whereas those from slips, crown, and discs take 20 to 22 months after planting.  Suckers and slips must be preferred for planting as they come to bearing earlier than the crown and produce larger fruits. Suckers must be planted within 2 weeks after removing from the mother plant. The planting material must be selected from the healthy disease-free plant. Suckers and slips are cured by stripping off the lower tree leaves followed by drying in the sun or partial shade for about a week before planting.  Then, this curing is done to avoid the 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 and Panchgavya, etc as per convenience. Then they are dried for 6 to 10 hours. When such treated suckers are used for planting, it may result in healthy plants and high crop yields.

Planting Time and Planting Process in Organic Pineapple Cultivation

Pineapple planting is done in flatbeds where there is no danger of waterlogging, or in shallow trenches that are filled as the suckers grow.  Care must be taken to see that the bud or heart of the sucker does not get buried. A single or double row system of planting is followed.  Planting is done in about 8 to 10 cm deep holes with perfect alignment.

The best time for planting Pineapple suckers is during the rainy season. Suckers are planted directly in the main field after giving accurate treatment. Many farmers in the region plant without any treatment.

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

In a double row system, planting is done with a spacing of about 25 cm x 50 cm x 80 cm for a total plant population of 61,538 plants per hectare. Then, the 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 to 5 years after which the plants are removed and new plants are planted.  A dose of about 25 t/ha of compost/cattle manure can be applied as a basal dressing for Pineapple. The green leaf and compost may be broadcasted around the plant after weeding and then mixed with the soil by light hoeing or forking.

Application of Manure in Organic Pineapple Cultivation

Apply compost / FYM at the rate of about 500 gm per plant at the time of planting. Also, apply rock phosphate at the rate of about 20 gm per plant and bone meal by 50 gm per plant.  It will be ideal to apply the compost/ FYM, rock phosphate, and bone meal in the pits taken for Pineapple planting.  About 6 weeks after planting, apply 250 gm cow dung or vermicompost, 50 gm neem cake, 50 gm groundnut cake, 1 gm azospirillum, and 1 gm phosphobactor for each plant and mild earthing up is done.

Organic manures to be applied in Pineapple cultivation are;

  • Compost (FYM) – 50-60 tones/ha
  • Vermicomposting – 5 tones/ha
  • Neem Cake – 75 to 80 tones/ha to control soil-born insects

Irrigation Requirement for Organic Pineapple Cultivation

Wherever irrigation facilities are available, providing irrigation in summer months at 2 weeks intervals results in good fruit size and high crop yield. If there is no irrigation facility, the crop must be scheduled for harvest before the summer months (before March).

When your Pineapple is freshly planted, daily watering is very important, unless it’s getting regular rainfall. Once it begins to show signs of new crop growth in the crown, you can scale back on watering. Then, allow the soil to dry out a bit between watering, but not bone dry. Due to their shallow root system, Pineapple trees absorb most of their water and nutrients through their leaves.  Keep this in mind when watering.  Make sure water gets caught in the crown, rather than just poured around the plant’s base and waterlogged soil can cause root rot.

How to Apply Fertilizers in Organic Pineapple Cultivation

Pineapple plants best use organic fertilizers with natural ingredients and trees love organic fish emulsion fertilizer.  Like watering, Pineapple trees prefer fertilizer sprayed on their leaves.

Making fertilizer is one of the most important aspects of Pineapple farming organically. This process includes using the optimal nutrients to enhance the growth of crops. Organic farming methods such as composting, mulching, and using bio-fertilizers will help promote healthy crop growth, as well as soil richness. Vermicomposting is also an excellent method of introducing important nutrients into the soil naturally.

Pineapple has strong adaptability to the environment, but it is more suitable for a warm and humid climate and suitable for rich and loose soil with deep layers and organic matter content of more than 2%. The growth process of the Pineapple tree needs more nitrogen and potassium, and some calcium. After harvest, proper fertilizer should be given to ensure the stability of the output.

Enough fertilizer must be applied during Pineapple planting with topdressing three times a year.

  • The first top-dressing is around January to promote the bud, apply 2 to 3 kg organic fertilizer.
  • The second top dressing is April- May sprouting period and applies 3 – 5 kg fertilizer.
  • The third top-dressing is a strong budding period, apply 5 to 8kg in July- August after harvest to restore the tree vigor, improve leaf function and promote flower bud differentiation. But in the 2 months before flower bud induction, fertilization should be suspended, otherwise, it will delay flowering.

Weed Management in Organic Pineapple Cultivation

Hand weeding can be adopted in between Pineapple plants and spade weeding in interspaces.  Pineapple weeds in interspaces can be controlled by intercropping with ginger, coleus, brinjal, and bhendi, etc.  It can also be controlled by sowing green manure crops such as sunnhemp or daincha which can be used as green manure for Pineapple by 2-3 months.

Weeding is done twice a year, the first a month or two after planting in August or September and the second in October – November.  The uprooted weeds are either used for making organic compost or as mulch to conserve water or 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 in Pineapple trees.

In case if you miss this: Organic Greenhouse Farming In India.

Pests and Diseases Control in Organic Pineapple Cultivation

Common pests in Pineapple trees are mealybugs, scale, and Pineapple red mites. In addition to these pests, the diseases termed heart rot, root rot, fruit rot, and butt rot can be major problems when handling, storing or planting fresh materials.

Mealybugs – Mealybug is a serious problem in Pineapple. For Mealybugs control, sanitary measures are to be adopted. The plot should be kept weed-free. Apply Verticillium by 1 gm per plant in liquid form for the control of mealybug.

Black-rot or Soft-rot – Small, circular, water-soaked spots at the stalk-end of the Pineapple fruit. Fruit rots and emits foul smell Delay between harvest and utilization of the ripe fruits leads to disease development. Then, the fungus makes its entry through wounds causes during picking and packing.

Management – Avoiding injury to the Pineapple fruit during harvest and transit. Trichoderma has the potential for biological management.

The majority of the pests and diseases in Pineapple trees can be effectively kept under check by judicious maintenance of microclimate. The pests can be controlled by the integration of physical, cultural, and biological ways including plant-based preparations permitted.

Following preparations are used for some pests and diseases control;

  • Dilute 1 liter of cow urine in 10 liters of water and wet the whole plant at the rate of about 200-300 liter/ha at regular intervals.
  • 12.5 kg of fresh cow dung and 12.5 liters of cow urine are collected in the earthen pot and mixed thoroughly with 12.5 liters of water.  The pot is covered and the mixture is allowed to ferment for a week. Occasionally it is stirred with a stick. The obtained concentration is diluted at a 1: 10 ratio (One part solution in 10 parts of water) and sprayed on the crop at the rate of about 200-250 liter per hectare.
  • 2% Neem oil mixed with any detergent powder by 40-50 g for 100 liters is used as a 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 in Pineapple crops.
  • Tobacco tea is effective against most of the pests in Pineapple.

When and How to Harvest Pineapples

When to Harvest Pineapples.
When to Harvest Pineapples (Image credit: Pixabay)

Pineapple plants flower 12 to 15 months after planting and the fruits become ready 15 to 18 months after planting depending upon the tree variety, time of planting, type and size of plant material used, and prevailing temperature during the fruit development. Pineapple comes to harvest during May-August under natural conditions. The fruit ripens about 5 months after flowering. The Pineapple fruits are harvested for canning purposes when there is a slight change at the base of developing fruits. The Pineapple fruits used for table purpose are retained till they develop a golden yellow color.

Commonly Asked Questions about Pineapple Production

How many Pineapples can you get from 1 plant?

A Pineapple tree flowers only once, and produces only 1 Pineapple. Then it dies. But before the plant dies it also produces offspring.

How long does it take to grow a full Pineapple?

The Pineapple plant only flowers at full maturity, which can take 2 to 3 years.

Why is my Pineapple turning yellow?

The easiest way to kill Pineapple plants is by overwatering. Too much water in the Pineapple tree causes yellowing leaves and potentially lethal Pineapple root rot. Water just enough to evenly moisten the soil surface and then allow it to become dry to the touch before watering again.

Why is my Pineapple plant turning orange?

Unripe Pineapples are green in color. When they begin to ripen, you will notice a change near the base of the Pineapple. It will start to turn yellow-orange color, indicating it’s ready or almost ready for picking.

Why my Pineapple leaves drooping?

Root rot’s only visible sign is a plant that looks like it needs to be watered, with drooping plant leaves and general signs of distress. Top rot eventually shows up like dead leaves around the center of the plant and both are caused by overwatering or poorly drained soils.

What is the lifespan of a Pineapple plant?

The lifespan of a Pineapple plant is about 7 years. The first fruit is borne only after the 2nd year and every year thereafter each plant produces only 1 fruit.


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