The dragon fruit a new introduction in India, is highly valued for its reported Nutraceutical Properties.
The dragon fruits are commonly known in English, it has the leathery skin and prominent spikes on the fruit exterior. And it is also known as Pitahaya and Pitaya which is derive from Mexico, and pita ya Rosa in Central America and northern South America, it is relating to Pitahaya for names of tall cacti species with flowering fruit. It is the fruit of several different cactus species which is indigenous to America. It is belong to Hylocereus genus and Cactaceae family. It is cultivated in Southeast Asia, Florida in the United States, the Caribbean, Australia, Mesoamerica and throughout tropical and subtropical regions of the world.
Dragon fruit’s physiology:
The dragon fruit a new introduction in India, it is highly valued for its reported nutrients properties. It has beautiful flowers and it is known as ‘Noble woman’ or ‘Queen of the Night.
Protein: 2 gm
Carbohydrates: 22 gm
Sugar: 13 gm
vitamin A: 100 IU
vitamin C: 4 mg
The juicy flesh of the fruit is delicious in taste. As dragon fruit is climbing cacti, support is essential for their growth and development. Life of the vines is as long as 20 years.
Health benefits of dragon fruit :
• It has antioxidants which can use to cure cancer.
• It is fat free and highly fiber content.
• It can lower the blood sugar.
• It improves immune system.
• It also improves iron level in the body.
Establishment cost of Dragon Fruit:
The initial establishment cost is not that much high in the dragon fruit. The initial establishment especially for the construction of cement poles. But once the plants are established, the fruits can be harvested continuously up to 20 years. After establishment of the crop, only minimum expenses are required for maintenance of the dragon fruit plantation.
Demand in market:
This dragon fruit has excellent health benefits and has good demand in local as well as international markets. In the Islands too, the fruits have good demand and imported fruits are marketed presently at the rate of Rs 200 to 250 / kg. This fruit cultivation in the islands could be a viable option for farmers and entrepreneurs of medium to large scale plantations. It is a fast return potential fruit crop with production in the second year of planting.
Types of Dragon Fruit:
There are three types, all with leathery, slightly leafy skin:
• Honeylocust Inundates (white-fleshed pita-ya): It has pink-skinned fruit with white flesh. This is the most commonly seen “dragon fruit”.
• Honeylocust consistences (red-fleshed pita-ya): It has red-skinned fruit with red flesh.
• Honeylocust megaliths (yellow pita-ya): It has yellow-skinned fruit with white flesh.
The fruit normally weighs from 150 to 600 grams some may reach 1 kilogram.
Climate condition for cultivation:
Dragon fruit has adapted to live in dry tropical climates with a moderate amount of rain. It can be grow low rainfall area minimum annual rainfall requirement is 50 cm. it grows 200c to 300c temperature. And it can grow poor soil also but idea soil sandy loam to clay loam soil with high organic matters. With soil pH 5.5 to 7. Ideal pH for dragon fruit is 7.
Preparing field for planting:
First field is prepared for planting. Farm should be well ploughed. Make raise beds. The beds should be 3 feet width and 0.5 feet height in sandy loam soil and 3 feet width and 1 feet height in black or clay soil.
Make some support system for plantation because dragon fruit pant is like vines so it is need support. For that make concrete square structures or poles (can also use iron poles) as base for maintaining the media that supports the growth of the vine. The height of pole should be 6.5 to 7 feet. Make holes on beds 1.5 to 2 feet deep and put the poles on the holes. Distance between two raw of poles should be 6.5 to 7 feet. Put plate like structure or tier on the poles for support to grow vines.
Dragon fruit can be propagated by seed and cutting. But best commercial planting method is cutting because it give true to type plants as like mother plant and blooming fast as compare to seed method. Cutting is planted in june- july monsoon season.
Cutting is planted near the base of 4 corner of the pole and tied up with plastic strip. After that cow dug 2 kg, NPK 30gm, humic acid 10gm per plant should be applied.
The distance between pole to pole within the raw should be 2 x 2 meter or 3 x 3 meter which is ideal for cutivation. Plantings can be done at high density with between 1100 and 1350 plants per hectare.
Any fruit tree cultivation, there is key point of application of fertilizer. It gives essential nutrients to plants. During vegetative phase Urea: Super phosphate: Muriate of potash 70:90:40 grams/plant should be applied. Urea should be apply in two spilt. During fruit bearing stage potash fertilizer should be given more instead of nitrogen fertilizer. The dose of fertilizer during fruit bearing stage should be Urea: Super phosphate: Muriate of potash 50:50:100 grams/plants.
Dragon fruit plant need less irrigation then other fruit. Irrigation is not required during rainy season but in the dry season, the growing media is kept moist by irrigation on alternate days. The best and effective method for irrigation is drip system.
Pest and diseases:
There is not reported ant pest or diseases in Indian condition.
Dragon fruit start baring from the 1st year. Flowering come in the month of June to October and fruit come in August to January. The production can take 3-4 time in one year. Exact time of harvesting is 3 to 4 days after color change for local market. But in case of long distance transport/export, the fruits are to be harvested when the color break is noticed.