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A dragon fruit is the fruit of several cactus species, most importantly of the genus Hylocereus. It is native to South and Central America, belong to perennial epiphytic plant. It is also commercially cultivated in Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Israel as well as Sri Lanka.

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
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2.Red colour fruit coat with red colour flesh
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3.Yellow colour fruit coat with white colour flesh
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Uses
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.

Nutritional value

The typical nutritional value per 100g of ripen Dragon fruit is as follows
Nutrition
Amount
Water 82.5- 83 g
Protein 0.159- 0.229 g
Fat 0.21- 0.61 g
Fiber 0.7- 0.9 g
Carotene 0.005- 0.012 mg
Calcium 6.3- 8.8 mg
Phosphorus 30.2- 36.1 mg
Iron 0.55- 0.65 mg
Vitamin B 1 0.28- 0.043 mg
Vitamin B 2 0.043- 0.045 mg
Vitamin B 3 0.297- 0.43 mg
Vitamin C 8.0- 9.0 mg
Thaiamin 0.28- 0.30 mg
Riboflavin 0.043- 0.044 mg
Niacin 1.297- 1.30 mg
Ash 0.28 g
Other 0.54- 0.68 g
Ripen fruits are rich in vitamins.

Climatic Conditionn

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
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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.
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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.

Planting mixture
Dry Cow dung          1
Top soil                 1
Sand                    2

Keep these pots with shade place to rooting.
These rooted cuttings are acclimatized before planting infields.

Planting

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.
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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.

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Removing of lateral buds



Inducing lateral branches

Disease
Specially, in dragon fruits, a lesser amount of pest and disease are there. But funfi diseases have been recorded in some countries.

Flowering

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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.

Fruiting

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Fruits will be matured 30 -35 days after flowering. Fruiting period will continue up to November. Harvesting can be done six times with in this period.

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.

Fertilizer Application

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

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.

Inorganic Fertilizer
For vegetative stage

Apply below mentioned fertilizer mixture each four months.
  • Urea - 72 g
  • Super phosphate - 88 g
  • Muriate of potash - 40 g

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).
  • Urea - 50 g
  • Super phosphate - 50 g
  • Muriate of potash - 100 g
It is import to increase the applied amount of fertilizer by 225g per year up to 1.5 kg.

Water Management

Irrigation is needed for normal growth and yield of the plant in dry season. Also, need to apply irrigation system in dry zone.

Yield

Average fruit weight is about 300-600 g in intermediate zone. Average yield is about 10000kg per ha. in our country.
 

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