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Home HortScience Yellow Pitaya Studied for Production in Tropical Taiwan
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TAIPEI, TAIWAN--Yellow pitaya (Selenicereus megalanthus) is a climbing cactus native to Central and South America. The yellow fruit is commercially produced in Colombia and Israel for local use and for export to European and Japanese markets. The pitaya market in Taiwan has grown in the past decade, but high-volume production is challenged by limited growing seasons.

Most of the common varieties of yellow pitaya grown in Taiwan produce fruits only in summer and fall. To meet increasing local and export demand, scientists are looking for ways to stabilize winter production by researching strategies such as breeding for winter cultivars and developing methods to regulate flowering seasons. According to the authors of a study published in HortScience, improving yellow pitaya production in Taiwan depends on finding ways to increase winter fruit production by enhancing growth of the current year’s new shoots through canopy management, and increasing the size of summer fruit though artificial pollination, fruit thinning, and other means.

The report on yellow pitaya growing in subtropical Taiwan focused on the relative position of floral buds that emerged on shoots at different ages within the canopy, and compared fruit size and quality during different seasons. The scientists found that sprouting occurred in two waves; the major wave occurred between December and April (accounting for 86% of the yearly sprouting), and a minor wave occurred between July and August.

Data showed that the weight, pulp percentage, and total soluble solids of winter fruits were significantly higher than those of summer fruits. The average weight of summer fruits was 70.5 grams, while the winter fruits weighed an average of 175.3 grams. Ten weeks were required from flowering to fruit harvest for the summer crop, while 18 weeks were needed for the winter crop. In the study, an average of 60% shoots within canopies flowered.

"Yellow pitaya has the potential to yield winter fruits of superior quality. Theoretically, night breaking by using supplemental light might lead to winter fruit production, but commercial application of such method is not yet practical," the scientists reported.

The study suggested that managing current shoots of yellow pitaya to have more than 60 areoles per shoot could lead to increased winter fruit production. "Delaying the flowering of noncurrent shoots to fall by flower thinning or GA3 application may be another approach. On the other hand, controlling fruit load per shoots by thinning flowers and young fruits on noncurrent shoots may result in increasing summer fruits of marketable size." The authors recommended that the effect of artificial pollination on increasing fruit size be evaluated in future studies.

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The complete study and abstract are available on the ASHS HortScience electronic journal web site: http://hortsci.ashspublications.org/content/46/11/1497.abstract

Founded in 1903, the American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS) is the largest organization dedicated to advancing all facets of horticultural research, education, and application. More information at ashs.org



Original Article:

Phenology, Canopy Composition, and Fruit Quality of Yellow Pitaya in Tropical Taiwan
Yi-Lu Jiang, Tzong-Shyan Lin, Ching-Lung Lee, Chung-Ruey Yen, and Wen-Ju Yang
HortScience 46:1497–1502. [Abstract][Full Text][PDF]

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