Pineapple is a highly valuable fruit among Nigerians, and also a highly lucrative crop to grow because it is sold for both domestic consumption and for production of fruit juice.
It is imperative upon a farmer to select sweet and high yielding pineapple varieties like the Smooth Cayenne which is very popular or the Queen cultivar which produces sweeter but smaller fruits than the Smooth Cayenne but with spiny leaves which are difficult to work with.
Another cultivar popular across West Africa is the Red Spanish, a spineless cultivar, which has some level of resistance to mealy bug wilt disease, and is intermediate between the Smooth Cayenne and Queen.
To start pineapple production, it is very important that a farmer chooses a good farm with deep sandy loam, but could also be grown on other soil types provided organic matter is added and it’s free of water logging conditions.
It is fairly drought resistant, but performs best in an area with a well distributed rainfall of at least 1000mm per annum. It enjoys humid conditions and prefers soil with good water retention ability.
Secondly, the land should be cleared of stumps and ploughed in preparation for planting. Raised beds or making some raised beds for the planting.
Propagation: Pineapples could be grown from either the top (crown), sucker or by their slip (tiny plantlets at the bottom of the fruit).
Suckers are little plantlets that grow between the leaves of the mature pineapple.
Pineapple plants rely mostly on their leaves for water and nutrition, as such could be planted in a nursery and transplanted to the main field when they are about a foot tall so that you have rows of similar sized pineapples.
Planting should be done at the onset of rainy season or at any time in irrigated areas.
Spacing: Ideally, pineapples are planted in double row spacing at 60cm between the rows, 30cm between plants and about 120cm between adjacent double rows.
Ridging should be preferably done after planting the propagules 7cm to 10cm deep on a levelled ground.
Nutritional requirement: Nitrogen fertiliser could be applied at the rate of 50 kg per hectare by broadcasting one month after planting.
Additionally, 41kg to 670kg per hectare should be applied at three to six months interval before maturity.
Harvesting: Pineapples mature 15-24 months depending on the planting material used. In harvesting, it is best to cut, rather than to break the fruit by the stalk.
• Weeds need to be effectively managed.
• At least two ratoon crops can be grown from the mother crop.
• Only one sucker should remain as the basis of the ratoon crop.