Here is a guide to papaya cultivation. Papaya is a tropical fruit and a member of caricaceae family. The tree is either a male, female or hermaphrodite. Loaded with vitamin C, It stands 30 feet tall with long narrow straight stem.
Papaya is unbranched with long stalk and fan shaped leaves. The male has fussed stamens while the female feature a superior ovary and contorted petals. The plant is rugged, easy to cultivate and produces a delicious fruit that is oblong or spherical in shape
The fruits are green unripe, yellowish orange ripe. Top producers Nigeria, India, China, Peru Mexico and Brazil. Others are Philippines, Thailand, and Ghana.
Papaya cultivation is very popular and the fruit attracts premium price. There are large number of varieties developed for commercial cultivation.
These types include gynodioecious hermaphrodite and female or dioeciously female plants or male plants. Important commercial verities with high yield are red lady, Co-8.
CO-8 weigh 1.6kg are large and oblong shaped. This type is ideal for jam preparation, canning and processing. C0-7 is gynodioecious is oblong shape average weight 1.15kg.
Others are CO-6 weighs 2kg,has yellowish pulp have high yield of 90 per plant. CO-5, CO-4 plant is purple and produces 75 fruits per plant. C0-4 is midsized, roundish has red pulp and a gynodioecious hybrid.
The fruit weighs 600grams and can produce 40 fruits a year. More varieties are pusa delicious, pusa dwarf, pusa nanha, pusa majesty and pusa diant. More include Arka Surya, Sunrise Solo, CO-2, CO-3, CO-1
Papaya Pests and Diseases
Root rot is common in papaya especially waterlogged areas. Other disease are damping off, stem rot, mildew and anthracnose. Treatment methods include mancozeb, liquid sulphur and carbendazim. The plant is attacked by many pests such as fruit flies, grasshoppers, and insects. Others are mites, stem borers, red spider and aphids.
Pests and Diseases
• Root rot
• Damping off
• Stem rot
• Fruit flies
• Stem borers
• Red spider
The plant is ideal for tropical conditions and should be protected from frost. Frost protection in winter conditions include thatching with polythene bags. Punch air holes in the polythene and use a gunny bag to wrap fruit close to the apex. This technique is only applicable in cold wintry conditions.
The best practice is to introduce other crops to your plantation after the first year. This is to prevent compilation for nutrients in the soil. Inter cropping is a common practice in papaya cultivation.
Popular crops are those with low height, shallow root system. Common crops found on papaya farms are peanut, jack-fruit, coffee. Some farmers introduce vegetables, onions, tomatoes, turnip and garlic.
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The best time to harvest papaya is when the green fruit begin to show signs of yellowing. However not all papaya turn yellow other markers are watery latex.
The mortality of the plant does not exceed 4 years and actively produces fruit for 3 years. It is important having good time management for best results.
Harvesting is done by gently handling the fruit and twisting from stalk.
Post harvesting practices involves prevention of damage during harvesting. Fruits with blemishes greatly reduces the value and accelerated decay. The highly perishable fruit is packed in straw dust filled crate and wrapped individually in newspaper.