Papaya fruit is a rich source of vitamin A. In recent days there is a lot of demand for papaya in the market owing to its health benefits. So, it would be worthwhile to cultivate papaya fruit trees.
How to Grow Papaya
Before going ahead, one has to select the right variety of papaya for cultivation
Varieties and hybrids of papaya:
- Mexican Papaya (Red/Yellow)
- Hawaiian Sunrise Papaya
- Hawaiian Sunset Papaya
- Bettina Papaya (popular in australia)
- Kamiya papaya
- Washington papaya
Papaya grows well in tropical countries. The climate should be warm and humid and can be cultivated up to an elevation of about 1000 meters. Temperature below 100 C retards the process of maturity and ripening of fruits and to a certain extent the growth and setting of fruits. A dry climate characterized by a meager rainfall tends to add to the sweetness of fruit whereas wet climate with heavy rainfall tends to reduce the sweetness. Low temperature restricts the cultivation of papaya and also aggravates the virus problem. Though it prefers humidity, papaya is affected by water stagnation and also by strong winds.
A well-drained sandy, loamy soil rich in NPK with pH 6-7 is the best for papaya growth. Also, the plant bears flowers or fruits for the most part of the year; hence it requires soil with high fertility. Adequate drainage and soil aeration are very important factors. Being a shallow-rooted plant, papaya can be grown in soils about 45 cm deep.
Papaya can be propagated either through the sexual method of propagation by the use of seeds or asexual propagation. Papaya propagation is possible by air layering, budding, softwood cuttings, etc. nowadays, tissue culture also gaining importance.
In papaya, planting can be done three times a year.
Monsoon planting during June – July
Spring planting during February–March
Autumn planting during October–November
But plating during the second fortnight of the august month will provide the highest yield and lower virus infection.
Prior to most things, islands need to be leveled, and then proper harrowing should be done along with manuring and fertilizer incorporation. Plowing and harrowing should be done twice before layout in case of virgin lands.
Higher spacing is followed in case of taller and vigorous varieties, whereas closer spacing is adopted for medium and dwarf types. Planting pit should be dug at a distance of 2.4 m × 2.4 m for taller types, 1.8 m × 1.8 m for medium types, and 1.2 m × 1.2 m for dwarf varieties. Generally, the spacing between rows is about 2.0 to 2.5 and 2.0 to 3.0 m between plants.
Make a slit in the plastic bag or disposable glass down one side to remove the bag and place it in the hole for proper transplanting of 45 days old seedlings. Do not break up or loosen the roots because this will cause the plants to dislodge later.
Aftercare and gap-filling:
Newly transplanted seedlings should be taken care of to protect against frost, water lodging, rainfall, and pests. In subtropical regions, where winters are very cool, seedlings should be protected with polythene bags and small thatches. Some extra seedlings are kept in reserve for gap filling as per needs. The mechanical and chemical damage of young seedlings is frequently observed during weed management by cultural operations and the spray of herbicides.
In papaya, the nutrient requirement will vary from cultivar to cultivar. Generally, in Coorg Honey Dew variety, an average dose of 250g of Nitrogen, 250g P2O5 (phosphorous), and 1000g K2 O per plant proved best. The amount of total soluble solids is dependent on an interaction between K and N. The application of various micronutrients provided good yields in papaya.
Practice weeding regularly to keep the field weed-free. Black polythene mulch will ensure in getting high yields and growth of papaya. In papaya cultivation, sawdust and peat mulches are also used for good results.
Papaya responds well to better water management. Adequate irrigation helps in rapid fruit development and regular yield. The plant is highly sensitive to waterlogged conditions, and hence it is most important to prevent waterlogging. In well-drained soils, irrigation at shorter intervals during the early crop stages results in good establishment and also encourages better plant development. The dense root system is fairly drought resistant, but irrigation may be required in dry months. Provide irrigation for every 7-10 days interval.
Earthing up in papaya is very important to practice which is practiced after 4th, 6th, and 8th months after planting the seedlings.
Staking is provided to the growing plants during their developmental stages to prevent the plants against high-velocity winds and to prevent lodging etc. bamboo sticks or other sticks are used to provide staking.
It is a very important operation when fruit-bearing occurs in clusters instead of single to ensure the proper development of fruits.
Weak and diseased plants, along with excess male plants, need to be uprooted as soon as after plants flowering.
We can harvest the ripe papaya fruits within 12 – 14 months after transplanting. Mature fruits turn into yellow color during repining. We can harvest the ripe fruits from directly from the tree, but the problem is there might be the tendency of damage to the ripe fruits by the birds, watery latex is considered as the harvesting index. Mature fruits are harvested with the help of hand without causing any injury to the fruits.
Quantity of yield depends upon various factors like the type of variety, fertility status of the land, and cultural practices adopted, etc. average yield may vary between 50 -100 tons. On average one tree produces around 120 – 150 fruits which may weigh 0.45-kilogram to 7.2-kilograms.
Benefits of papaya
- Papaya is good for digestion
- It is rich in vitamin A
- It has enzyme papain which is extracted medicinally.