Papaya Farming in USA: How to Start, A Step-By-Step Guide to Beginners

Papaya is one of the easiest crops to grow in the USA. It is easy to grow with the right nutrients. The Papaya plant is a short-lived herbaceous plant with a tropical climate in the United States. It originated in the tropics of the USA. Its scientific name is Carica Papaya. It is also known as Papaw or Papita. Let’s check out more information about Papaya farming in USA.

Papaya Farming in USA
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Papaya cultivated states in the USA

In the USA, Papaya production is limited to certain areas of the states of California, Florida, and Texas. In California, winter temperatures in San Joaquin Valley limit the season from February to November. The short season only gives the fruit enough time to reach one-and-a-half to two-thirds of its normal size at maturity. These immature or green Papayas are commonly used for cooking and are popular with Burmese, Mexican, Japanese, and Laotian consumers.

In Texas, at the bottom of the Rio Grande Valley, some commercial Papaya plants have been planted that rarely survive more than a few years due to freezing temperatures. Originally from southern Mexico (especially Chiapas and Veracruz), Central America, and northern South America, Papaya is now grown in most tropical countries. In cultivation, it grows rapidly, bearing fruit within three years.

However, it is sensitive to extreme cold, limiting its production to tropical climates. Temperatures below −2°C are very harmful, if not fatal. In Florida, California, and Texas, growth is generally limited to the southern parts of the states. The top U.S. states in Papaya consumption are California, Texas, New York, Florida, and Illinois. In Florida, Papaya consumption is high in large urban counties.

Miami-Dade County leads Papaya consumption in Florida with 13.08%, which is not surprising as Miami is home to the largest Hispanic population in the United States. The Papaya tree is an evergreen tree native to Mexico and South America. They usually grow in tropical and subtropical regions. Papaya trees are grown in seasons such as in Florida, Hawaii, Southern California, and Texas in the USA. 

Papaya trees cannot tolerate cold temperatures or soaked roots and will only grow in the warmest parts of the United States. These zones are 9-11. It does not leave many options, but with the right conditions, you can grow your Papaya indoors or in a greenhouse. You can plant Papaya trees in Hawaii, Southern California, Arizona, Texas, and Florida in the USA. Although South Louisiana is in the USDA Hardiness Zone 9-10, the area is generally too swampy and wet to grow Papaya trees. 

Different Papaya varieties in the USA

The two main types of Papaya grown are small, Hawaiian, and large, or Mexican. Smaller Papaya varieties are referred to as ‘solo’ varieties, with the basic varieties being Kapoho, Sunrise, SunUp, and Rainbow. The most abundant Mexican crop is Maradol. Papaya is grown in about 60 countries, most of which are grown in developing economies. There are two main types of Papaya grown: small (Hawaiian Papaya) and large (aka Mexican Papaya).

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Papaya Tree
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The solo variety is the most popular of the small Papayas. It originated in Barbados and was later relocated to Hawaii, where it became one of Hawaii’s export products, earning the title “Hawaii” Papayas. Maradol is the most popular Papaya cultivar in large-size (Mexican) Papaya. It began as a result of a long breeding process in Cuba. Due to its distinctive taste, this particular crop was rapidly adopted in many regions. 

Hawaii mainly produces small solo varieties of Papaya. Regarding importance, the main types of Papaya imported from the United States are Maradol, Solo, and Tainung. Maradol Papayas are grown in Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, and the Dominican Republic. Solo varieties are grown in Brazil and the Dominican Republic. Tainung varieties of Papaya are grown in Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, and Ecuador. 

Soil suitable for Papaya cultivation 

The most suitable soil type is well-drained or sandy loam soil with suitable organic matter. Sticky and calcareous soils are not good because rainwater can accumulate in the soil. As a result, it can be deadly to plants. In this case, you should arrange a high bed and drainage ditch. In addition, you should keep the field with adequate soil moisture, which is essential for the growth of Papaya plants.

In addition, the dry climate during ripening is good for fruit quality. In addition, continuous harvesting in the same field can result in poor growth. Therefore, slightly muddy land is preferred over perfectly level land. The mountainous soils of this region are best suited for organic matter drainage. 

Conditions required for Papaya farming in USA

Papaya grows well in many types of soil as long as there is adequate drainage. Waterlogged soil can cause root diseases or kill plants if they are not monitored for 24 hours or more. In the growing areas of Hawaii, where it rains regularly, lava soil provides adequate drainage and is used in the commercial production of Papaya. However, adding extra soil to the growing hole is usually necessary when seeds are planted.

The soil type is less concerned in the growing regions of the American continent, where there is little rainfall. Generally, Papaya plants prefer near-neutral soil pH (between pH 6.0 and 7.0). Fertilizer application will vary depending on the soil type, climate, and season. To ensure good root growth, organic matter can be added to the soil before planting, and mulch can be spread on the surface after planting. After about three months of growth, other slow-release fertilizers can be added to the soil or supplied to the plants through irrigation.

It is important to note that too much nitrogen will cause the plants to grow more than they need and produce soft fruit. Watering Papaya is usually done through drip irrigation to prevent excess water. In growing areas where it rains regularly, irrigation may be required only to supplement the rainfall. Farmers may need to provide 10 gallons of water per tree per day during fruit growing in areas with limited rainfall. 

Propagation of Papaya plants 

Papaya is propagated by seeds. You can get seeds from different sources, and most agricultural universities store seeds from time to time, especially 8-9 months before the monsoon. Papaya seeds collected from fruit pods should be carefully selected. The fruit should be large, and the mother plant should be free from pests and diseases. Fruits and plants must be healthy. The chances are that the bean has the same potential as the male and female plants.

If your seeds are selected from the area of ​​the head where the fruit is attached to the tree, you are more likely to have fewer male plants. When choosing seeds, discard all light and dark black seeds. Ensure the fruit is ripe and leave it in the shade for three days after seed collection. The sarcotesta (the gel layer around the seed) can wrinkle.

After 72 hours, pick all the seeds that look the same size and weight. You can avoid all seeds that have shrunk to a smaller size than most. The Papaya seeds are ready to be planted, and you can use the germination tray with cocoa peat for the germination process. Keep the tray in a warm and moist place in the shade.

Ensure you water the seeds twice daily and keep the tray moist. Papaya seeds take about two weeks to germinate. Once the plants are close to 3 inches, remove all legged plants and other plants that look very weak. You will discard about 15% of all germination plants and choose only healthy ones for transplanting.

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Papaya Farming
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Papaya production in the USA 

More than 95% of Papayas imported into the United States are sold locally as fresh fruit. Mexico supplies about 75% of Papaya imported into the United States between March and mid-June. Most Papayas are grown commercially in the USA in Hawaii, California, Texas, and Florida. In Hawaii, more than 95% of Papayas are grown on Hawaii, known as “The Big Island.” In general, Hawaiian Papaya plants can bear fruit all year round.

However, hot, dry weather can cause temporary plant infertility and affect yields. In California, Papayas are grown in the San Joaquin Valley. Because of this small growing season, California Papayas are small in size and are marketed in green. In Texas, Papayas are grown in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. Florida’s subtropical climate provides the best conditions for Papaya to grow in the United States. 

Papayas are grown year-round, mostly in the Miami-Dade County area, where the highest yields occur during the summer and fall. Fruits usually have many seeds surrounded by sweet smooth yellow to orange-red flesh. Papaya trees grow in well-drained soil. If the soil around the roots of the Papaya tree stays wet for a long time, it can rot in the roots. 

Growing Papaya in Texas 

If you live in Texas, expect your Papaya to survive only two years because of the cold weather and occasional freezing temperatures. Because of the heat. Most Papayas that grow in Texas are from the lower Rio Grande Valley. Due to the state’s large size, there are several hard zones, but the only area for Papaya trees is along the southern part of Texas. Houston, San Antonio, and the surrounding far south are more tropical climates.

Along the upper edge of this area, temperatures can drop near freezing. If you are planning to grow Papaya trees in these areas, you should consider how to prevent them from occasionally falling in temperature. You may need to cover them or rub some heating lamps to keep your trees from freezing. Growing Papaya in Texas can take months. Fruits are ready for harvest five to six months after flowering and a few months after seed germination.

To be successful, trees need to survive the winter. Papaya is a tropical plant, and success in growing Papaya in Texas depends on the severity of the winter. Temperatures below 10ºC significantly affect pollen function and production. However, the acceptance of Papaya stains remains high throughout the year. If pollen is applied with viable pollen, female and hermaphrodite flowers can bear fruit successfully, even in winter. Being tropical, Papayas rarely survive in freezing temperatures. 

Growing Papaya in Hawaii 

Most of the Papaya varieties grown in Hawaii are from The Big Island. They are grown year-round, but hot, dry weather can disinfect Papaya plants. According to the Department of Food and Resource Economics at the University of Florida, Hawaii exports 95% of the Papaya grown in the United States. Hawaii’s tropical paradise is a perfect place to grow Papaya trees. This whole chain of islands seems to have been built for these trees. These islands are between USDA Hardiness Zones 10-12. 

Hawaii is a leading commercial producer of Papaya for American consumption. The soil is usually sandy or rocky, allowing for easy drainage. Most likely, the only problem you will have with growing Papaya trees in Hawaii is if the wind is too strong. With a shallow root system, the roots of the Papaya tree cannot hold very firmly to the ground. The fruits also grow on the top of the tree, making them very heavy. If you live in Hawaii, you have no problem developing Papaya trees and maintaining a constant supply of these delicious, tropical fruits. 

Growing Papaya in Florida 

Most parts of Florida have favorable conditions for growing Papaya. Florida is another state in North America that grows Papaya trees for commercial production, especially around the Miami-Dade area. If you need to, add some sand to the soil mixture, Papaya still needs a lot of organic matter to grow these delicious fruits.

Another method to help drainage is to put a few inches of gravel in the bottom of your hole. The water flows faster and does not stay on the roots for long. The subtropical climate in Florida offers the best conditions for Papaya to grow in the Americas; if you live in Miami-Dade County, you can grow them all year round. Most Papaya fruits are produced in summer and autumn. 

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Papaya Farm
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Papaya growing in California 

The Papaya growing season in California is from February to November. Because this Papaya season is short, the fruit is small. Most Papayas grown in California come from the San Joaquin Valley. Southern California is another place where you can grow Papaya trees. Southern California usually affects these temperatures in late spring and summer. If it is going to be a cold winter, you will have to spend more winter on your trees.

You can start and place them in pots or cover them if the temperature is too cold. Papaya is an herbaceous plant that does not live long. The average age is about four years. You may plant more trees yearly, as they begin to bear fruit in 6 to 8 months. When you harvest your fruit, keep a fruit seed, start sowing in December, and then take the plants out when they warm up. From mid to late summer, you should be able to find fruit on your new trees.

Papaya growing in Arizona 

Arizona’s desert heat is a great place to grow Papaya trees. When the temperature starts to reach three digits, water them well. Be sure to fertilize your plants during growth to keep them healthy and free from disease. Anything that is the same as 10-10-10 fertilizer will work perfectly. The University of Arizona recommends digging a three-inch trench around a tree drip line for winter watering.

Using garden speed, dig three inches deeper around the tree drip line and closer to the width of the jump. Fill the ditch with water, then stop. Do not re-water the soil in the trench until it is completely dry. If you have a cold during the winter, there are things you can do to protect your trees. If the trees are not tall, you can wrap them in burlap. Another way to prevent frost damage is to use a high-output shop fan if the temps are about to fall. Frozen temperatures should not last long, and the air prevents frost from freezing on soft green plants. 

Caring for Papaya fruit trees

In addition to proper Papaya growing conditions, proper care of Papaya fruit trees is also important. For Papaya trees to thrive, they need some fertilizer. Fertilize young plants every 14 days using 2 pounds (113.5 grams) of complete fertilizer. Fertilize 1 to 2 pounds (0.5-1 kg) of old trees once a month. Also, be sure to sample the soil and modify it as needed.

Water the trees frequently to produce the best fruit. To help retain moisture, mulch trees with 4-inch (10 cm) wood chips, be sure to keep the mulch 8 to 12 inches (20-30.5 cm) from the trunk. Protect growing fruits from pests by placing paper bags on them until they are ripe.

Different Papaya planting practices 

Weed control within 3 to 4 feet of Papaya is essential for maximum growth and fruiting. Cultivation should be shallow enough to control weeds as Papaya roots are concentrated near the soil surface. A quarter of a pound of ammonium sulfate (21-0-0) per plant should be applied monthly after planting, increasing to one and a half pounds six months after planting. 

The soil should be irrigated from time to time as per the year’s requirement. Avoid standing water after irrigation. A fluctuating irrigation system can stunt growth and cause poor fruit sets. Because Papayas quickly reach 10 to 15 feet, protection from the cold above is difficult. Protecting the lower part of the stem can allow the plant to sprout again in case of freezing damage. 

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Papaya Fruit
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Irrigation management

Papaya requires very little water, especially in the early stages. Giving enough water in the first few months after replanting helps thicken the base of the plant while not increasing the height. With more water, the Papaya plant is more likely to grow taller. With tall trees, the risk of it breaking or falling is higher. In the first few months, at least 4-5 months give a minimum of water, gradually increasing.

During the flowering season, ensure enough water and add water during the fruiting season. If you water the plant properly, your base will be thick, and fruiting will start 2 feet from the ground. It’s great to choose from and is easy to use with any pesticide, organic or chemical-based if needed. With minimal watering during the fruiting stage, it has been observed that fruits are sweeter than those watered more generously.

An adult Papaya plant will need 6-8 liters of water per day through drip irrigation. It will require 15-16 liters with normal irrigation techniques. When irrigating Papaya plants, remember that water should not touch the stem, and water should not flood for more than a few hours. Water stagnation will increase the chances of root rot. It is one of the reasons why drip irrigation is most suitable for commercial Papaya cultivation.

Papaya plant protection 

To get maximum yield, you must control the disease properly. The main diseases are powdery mildew, anthracnose, damping, and stem rot. Another possible disease is a root-knot nematode. You should remove herbs frequently and lightly when you are young. However, never cultivate deep in the soil as the roots of the plant are shallow. You can apply the herbicide once before the emergency with 43% lasso E.C at 1: 200. 

Diseases and insects can cause the rapid death of plants. The solution is to plant new Papaya plants in a better place with better drainage or use raised beds. Watering should be done carefully. Viral diseases are quite common and uncontrollable. They clear the veins and cause yellowing of the leaves. Other symptoms are distorted leaf development with stagnation and the presence of various greasy or yellow circles on the leaves and fruits. Infected Papaya plants must be removed and destroyed. 

Anthracnose appears as irregular, water-soaked spots on the fruit that later become large and black and sink into the bark. Copper sprays had a limited effect in severe conditions, but they would not be widely used under normal conditions in Texas. 

The common whitefly is just an insect-infected Papaya in Texas, causing mold to form on plants and fruits. Sweet potato whitefly is also said to be in favor of Papaya. Leaf tip burns and marginal necrosis (browning) are caused by salty soil and water conditions in most parts of Texas. Problem symptoms are more severe on older leaves and during the summer season. 

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Harvesting in Papaya farming 

It usually takes six months for Papaya to flower. However, this may vary depending on the climatic conditions and management. To be shipped to distant markets, the fruit should be harvested when the apical begins to turn yellow, and the latex is no longer milky. In the winter, the fruit can be left on the tree to create darker colors and taste better. With good management of Papaya, a tree bearing 25 to 40 fruits weighing about 40 to 60 kg in the 15 to 18 months of planting.


Papaya is a very popular fruit. You can harvest Papaya all year round. According to the University of California, only ten countries grow 75% of the world’s Papaya, and the United States imports 95%. Papaya is the fourth most-traded tropical fruit after Banana, Mango, and Pineapple. About 75% of Papayas are grown in only ten countries. The total production of Papaya in the United States is about 14,000 tons per year.


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