Scientia Horticulture, research journal of great impact on plant production, has published an article showing the results obtained from the collaboration, which began in 2014 between the seedbed Vitalplant and the AGR-200 Research Group of the University of Almería. The researchers Mireille Honoré, Luis Belmonte and Francisco Camacho, as well as Asensio Navarro, manager of Vitalplant -a graduate of the UAL Higher School of Engineering-, have studied the “Influence of early sexing and the size of the papaya plant on the production and quality of the fruits in a greenhouse cultivation in Continental Europe”.

In order to achieve the desired objectives of optimizing this fruit under a greenhouse, a series of specific cultural tasks were followed, some of them adapted to those carried out on our horticultural plants.

The entire plant that was used for the cultivation was sexed early through molecular techniques when it was still in the seedbed, so that the transplanted was a single hermaphrodite plant per blow, avoiding sexing in the field when they were previously transplanted 3-4 plants. Since hermaphrodite plants are the ones that produce the best fruits and are the ones demanded by consumers. In addition, the withdrawal from the market of production of female plants involves an economic cost and waste of plant material, something that can be solved with the grafting of hermaphrodite plant on female plant. The seedling facilities for horticultural plants in Almería offer great possibilities for carrying out herbaceous grafting, as well as possibilities for making plants balanced with the ratio of aboveground biomass to root biomass.

The experiments were carried out on the farm “Professor Eduardo Fernández” of the UAL-Anecoop Foundation. The plantation was carried out under a 1,800 m2 surface greenhouse, multi-tunnel type, with a canal height of 4.50 meters and a peak height of 5.70 meters, covered with 800-gauge plastic. The soil was sandblasted and the irrigation used was by dripping. The cultivars used were Intenzza and Sweet Sense. Plants of two different sizes were used, with 20 and 60 centimeters of height that had root balls of 0.133 and 2 liters respectively of volume. The plant material was transplanted on March 23, 2016 and removed on June 15, 2018. The distribution of the plant was made in staggered staggered lines, with a distance between paired lines of 2.20 meters (corridors), between lines of one meter and between plants of two meters. With this distribution, the density was 2,700 plants per hectare.

The nutrition of the culture was done by fertirrigation using a nutrient solution carried out ad hoc and which was given the name of “Uniqua Trop” ® “by Megasa; with the following characteristics: NPK + Ca + Mg: 2.9 – 1.3 – 5.7 (2.2 – 0.5). Pathological problems were solved with the release of auxiliary insects and application of plant extracts. The harvest of the fruits was carried out during the months of October 2016 until mid-June 2018.

The parameters that were evaluated were: total production (kg), average fruit weight and number of fruits per plant, control of the level of soluble solids in the fruit. Morphology data of the plant were also taken, specifically: height from the peduncle of the first fruit harvested to the ground, number of knots counted from the ground to where the harvest of the first fruit is carried out and perimeter of the stem 10 centimeters above the ground. All the data obtained were subjected to the corresponding statistical analyzes.

The yield results ranged, depending on the chosen production system, between 262.8 and 325.22 tons per hectare. These data are superior to those obtained in other countries such as Costa Rica, Mexico, India and Florida (USA). From the experiment carried out, it was concluded that the production obtained using an early sexed plant and transplanted with a large root ball, is superior to all the reports consulted on this parameter in papaya crops from other continents.

Regarding the average weight of the fruit, it was highly marked by the cultivated variety, data that coincide with those obtained by various researchers, both in the Canary Islands as in other countries of America and Asia. The soluble solids obtained were similar to those obtained for the varieties tested by other researchers for them, both in Spain insular as in other American countries.

Regarding the height where the plant begins to produce, it was seen that the transplant carried out with large plants and in balance between the aerial and root biomass have a tendency to bear lower fruit and in a knot closer to the ground, being more early regarding the planting date.

The different treatments proposed in the agricultural production system of the southeast of Spain, had no influence on the average fruit weight or soluble solids content, parameters that depend much more on genetic components than on the treatments used in this cultivation system.

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