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Dragon Fruit - Hylocereus undatus
Now dragon fruit is also popularizing in Sri Lanka. It can be cultivated low country wet zone, intermediate zone as well as dry zone with the irrigation facilities. Department of Agriculture is conducting research to improve the cultivation.
Three types of Dragon fruit species.
1.Red colour fruit coat with white colour flesh
Dragon fruit is important as a fruits as well as ornamental plant. Ripen fruits can be used directly to consume. Also it can be used for produce jam, ice cream, jelly, fruit juice as well as wine. Dragon fruit buds can be prepared as a curry.
Dragon fruit increases the digesting power of the foods. Also it has ability to control cancer, diabetics, high cholesterol as well as blood pressure.
The typical nutritional value per 100g of ripen Dragon fruit is as follows
Dragon fruits can tolerate poor soil conditions and temperature variations.
Tropical climate is good for dragon fruit cultivation. The optimum temperature range is about 20 - 30 oC. Also it needs about 500 1500mm annual rainfall with alternate dry and wet climatic condition. It need good sunlight, but not suitable for long period. At that time shading is important.
Soil and Water
Good drainage system is important to dragon fruit cultivation. 10-30% sandy soils with organic matters provide good condition for plant growth. Sandy soils also suitable for dragon fruit cultivation.
Preparation of Planting Material
1. Planting of cuttings Common method
2. Seedlings Seeds can be used to produce seedlings. But, commercially not in used. Because it takes long period as well as it can not continue characteristics of mother plants.
Use cuttings for planting
Obtain cuttings from the selected mother plants.
15 20 cm cuttings are used for planting. Pile up these cutting 1-2 days prior to potting.
Then these cuttings are potted with planting mixture.
Dry Cow dung 1
Top soil 1
Keep these pots with shade place to rooting.
These rooted cuttings are acclimatized before planting infields.
Planting space is about 2 x 2m.
Pit size is about 60 x 60 x 60cm. These pits are filled by top soil, decomposed cow dung or compost with 10og of super phosphate. To improve the drainage, add small brick pieces and some amount of sand to bottom of the pit.
Training of Plants
Dragon fruit needs support to up right growth. Because wooden or concrete column can be used. Immature stem must be tied to that column. But thereafter aerial roots developed and bound to column. Lateral shoots must be limited and 2-3 main stems are allowed to grow. Because lateral shoots bust be removed time to time. It is important to arrange round metal frame to maintain balanced shrub. Because it spread the hanging shoots balance way.
Removing of lateral buds
Inducing lateral branches
Specially, in dragon fruits, a lesser amount of pest and disease are there. But funfi diseases have been recorded in some countries.
Dragon fruit flower bloom at night and it is off white in colour. Their fragrant helps to pest attraction. In intermediate zone, flowering will initiate at April/ May period. Due to beauty of the flower, these flowers also named as Queen of night, Moon flower and Nobal woman.
Outer cover of immature is in bright green colour. It will become red in colour with ripening. Proper time of harvesting is after four days of colour changing. But for export purpose, it is important to harvesting a day after colour changing.
Dragon fruit forest related plant belong to family Cactaceae. Therefore it needs water and fertilizer. It is newly introduced plant for cultivation. Thus hasnt recommended fertilizer mixture yet. But good result can be obtained by applying below mentioned fertilizer mixtures.
Organic fertilizer is very important to proper growth and development of dragon fruit plant. Because apply 15kg of organic fertilizer per plant and increase the amount by 2kg per year up to 20kg.
For vegetative stage
Apply below mentioned fertilizer mixture each four months.
For bearing trees
It is important to apply low amount of nitrogen and high amount of potash for obtain ample yield. Apply below mentioned mixture per plant before the flowering (April) fruit developing stage (July/ August) as well as after the harvesting (December).
Irrigation is needed for normal growth and yield of the plant in dry season. Also, need to apply irrigation system in dry zone.
Average fruit weight is about 300-600 g in intermediate zone. Average yield is about 10000kg per ha. in our country.
© 2006 Department of Agriculture, Sri Lanka (DOASL), All rights reserved-Developed in association with ICTA.