The pineapple (Ananas comosus) is cultivated in different parts of the world because of its taste. This fruit is consumed in many forms as whole fruit, fruit juice, cocktail, canned, and it is even cooked.
Pineapples are usually propagated by means of their crowns, which grow on top of the fruit; their suckers, which appear near the leaves; their slips or “robbers,” which form below the pineapple; and from their ratoons, which grow out from under the ground. Propagation through seeds is undesirable, and the use of pineapple seeds is usually restricted to breeding programs.
Although the suckers and slips of the pineapple are used, their crowns are the most popular among home gardeners as they are easily available. Twist off the pineapple crowns atop the ripe, mature fruit, discard a few leaves from the bottom, and leave the crowns to dry out in a shady area for a couple of days. Remember to plant the dry crown without further delay.
Select a warm and sunny location to grow your pineapples. A temperature range between 64°F and 113°F is ideal for pineapple growing. Although these plants tolerate short periods of cold, a prolonged cold climate is not appreciated by them.
Make sure that you grow the pineapples in small pots with good drainage. If they are directly planted on the ground, keep a distance of at least 12 to 13 inches between the plants. Maintain an average depth of 2 to 4 inches. The distance between the rows should be at least 12 to 13 inches. Over-crowding the plants is not advised as it tends to reduce the fruit size and also considerably lowers the chances of the growth of slips and suckers.
Soil and Water
Pineapple thrives in friable, well-drained, mildly acidic (pH between 4.5 and 6.5) sandy loam. Mix in considerable amounts of organic matter with the soil. If the soil is not sufficiently acidic, treat it with sulfur.
Pineapples cannot tolerate waterlogging; therefore, pay particular attention to proper drainage. The pineapples can tolerate dry spells, but the lack of moisture will affect the fruit yield. Ensure that the plants are not exposed to frost as it poses a threat to pineapple plants and affects the quality of the fruits.
Add nitrogen to the soil as it is beneficial for the healthy growth of pineapples. Spraying the plants with urea every 4 months helps to supply nitrogen and to increase the size of the fruit.
Some people harvest pineapples when the bottom of the fruit begins to yellow, while some others check the ripeness of the fruit by tapping a finger against it. If a dull and heavy sound is heard, the fruit is considered ready to be picked. It is often difficult to tell when a pineapple should be harvested. With experience, one can decide on the right time of harvesting.
Pests and Diseases
Nematodes, mealybugs, pineapple mites, and sap beetles are the common pests that attack the pineapples. Most of the problems faced during pineapple growing could be avoided by fumigating the soil before planting, rotating the crops in between plantings, and keeping the area free from garbage. Root rot and base rot are the most common diseases found in the pineapple. With proper drainage, all these can be avoided.