DRAGON FRUIT FARMING – HOW TO START

October 18, 2020 Hansie Britz

               

Dragon fruit is a tropical fruit of the climbing cacti (Cacta cease) family. It is also known as pitaya or strawberry pear and is a native species of Mexico, Central and South America. Dragon Fruit is mainly eaten fresh and is best served chilled. The thick skins are easily peeled to reveal white or pink to red flesh, dotted with tiny black seeds

Varieties

There are three most commonly farmed varieties of dragon fruit:

1. pink – red skin with red flesh.

2. rare yellow skinned dragon fruit with white flesh and

3. pink – red dragon fruit with white flesh.

Dragon fruit is best propagated from cuttings. The plants prefer well – drained and composted soil in warm areas with a rainfall of at least 400 mm and up to 1500 mm per year. High – density planting of up to 1250 plants/ha is easily managed, with a spacing of 4m x 5m x 2.5m, depending on trellising systems. The thick fleshy stems can grow up to  4m, in a single growing season and must be trained and tied onto a single pole or trellis system of about 1.8m high. Precast concrete poles are widely used and three to four plants can be trained onto one pole.

Harvesting

As the fruit develops, it starts changing colour at 26 – 30 days after pollination. It should be ready to harvest in about 30 – 34 days, a few days after the fruit has changed colour. After harvesting by hand, dragon fruit is washed in a food – grade disinfectant and size – graded by weight. The fruit is then sorted according to superficial damage, e.g. ants or fruit flies, shrivel, skin colour as well as the colour and condition of the bracts (scales). The plants bear fruit two years after planting and is in full production within 5 years. Depending on the cultivar and condition of the plantings, yields of 15 – 35 tons/ha can be expected.

Dragon Fruit Uses

Dragon Fruit is primarily grown for the fresh eating market and it often sold at farmers markets in South Africa. The fruit can also be processed into many value – added products such as dried fruit rolls, fruit bars, ice cream, jams, juices, pastries as fruit pulp and in yogurt.

Benefits

* Helping to boost immunity.

* High levels of Vitamin C.

* Speed up metabolism and the digestive process.

* Regulate blood sugar.

* Helpful in diets for diabetics.

* Contains vitamins B1, B2 and B3.

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