How to Start a Commercial Pineapple Farm

Do you want to start a profitable commercial pineapple farm? This article consists detailed pineapple farming business plan guide with cultivation practices, variety, economic importance, per acre yield etc.

The scientific name of the pineapple is Ananas comosus. And it belongs to Bromeliaceae family. Generally, in the tropical climatic zone, it is an important fruit crop. Generally, pineapple cultivation demands high rainfall and humid atmosphere. However, you can grow pineapples commercially in the interior plains with medium rainfall and supplementary protective irrigations.

Some of the major pineapple producing countries are Costa Rica, Brazil, Philipines, Thailand, Indonesia, India, Nigeria, China, and Mexico. In India, Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, Mizoram, West Bengal, Kerala, Karnataka, and Goa are the major producing states.

Generally, commercial pineapple farming demands sufficient area of land and proper irrigation facility. In addition to that, the farm must have the proper arrangements for plant protection. In this business, you can expect a substantial ROI and quick payback.

Economic Importance of Pineapple Farming

Currently, the pineapple fruit is the 3rd most important commercial tropical fruit crops after banana and citrus. Additionally, the fruit is important as intercropping plants, canned food and also fresh fruit consumption. Also, the pineapples contribute to over 20% of the world’s production of tropical fruits.

Also, the Native Americans use pineapple for the preparation of alcoholic beverages for the production of beer, and for medical purposes. Even, this crop also cultivated as garden ornamental. Some of the major pineapple importing countries are U.A.E., USA, Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Nepal.

Health Benefits of Pineapples

  • Pineapple can help in the treatment of gastrointestinal problems, such as slow digestion, constipation, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
  • Also, pineapple can help improve the symptoms of osteoarthritis.
  • Additionally, pineapple is useful for treating hayfever and speeding up the healing of the sunburned skin.
  • Pineapple is a good source of vitamins A and B. Also, it is fairly rich in vitamins C, calcium, magnesium potassium and iron.
  • It is also a source of bromelain, a digestive enzyme.
  • Along with the antioxidant compounds that protect against oral cancer, pineapple also has astringent properties, which strengthen gums and teeth.

Agroclimatic Conditions for Pineapple Farming

The pineapple is a crop of humid tropics. Hence, you can grow the fruit well near the sea coast as well as in the interior, so long as the temperatures are not extreme.

The optimum temperature for successful cultivation is 22° – 32°C. Leaves and roots grow best at 32°C and 29°C respectively. However, the growth ceases below 20°C and above 36°C. A high temperature at night is deleterious and a difference of at least 4°C between day and night temperature is desirable.

You can grow pineapples up to 1,100m above mean sea level if the area is frost-free. Although optimum annual rainfall for its commercial cultivation is 100-150 cm. Hence, it grows remarkably well under a wide range of rainfall. In areas where the rainfall is less, you need to provide the supplementary protective irrigations during the dry season.

Suitable Soil for Pineapple Farming

The plants come up well in any type of soil except on very heavy clay soil. Sandy loam soils are ideal. The soil should be 45-60 cm in depth without hardpan or stones. However, you must avoid low-lying areas with the high water table. The plants prefer a soil pH of 5.0-6.0.

Best Varieties for Pineapple Farming

Selecting the right variety is the most important aspect of establishing a profitable pineapple farm. There are several varieties are available for commercial farming.

Kew:

It is a leading commercial variety valued particularly for canning. Its fruits are big-sized (1.5-2.5 kg), oblong and tapering slightly towards the crown. The fruit with broad and shallow eyes becomes yellow when fully ripe.

Giant Kew:

Actually, the variety is synonymous with Kew except for the size of plant and fruit which are larger than Kew as the name signifies.

Charlotte Rothschild:

The fruit is similar in taste and other characters to that of Kew.

Queen:

Its fruits are rich yellow in color, weighing 0.9-1.3 kg each. The flesh is deep golden-yellow, less juicy than Kew, crisp textured with a pleasant aroma and flavor Eyes are small and deep, requiring a thicker cut when removing the skin.

Mauritius:

It comes medium in size, its fruits are deep yellow and red. Yellow fruits are oblong, fibrous and medium sweet compared with red ones. This is ideal for table purposes.

Jaldhup and Lakhat:

Both are under Queen group with fruits smaller than Queen. Lakhat is markedly sour in taste, whereas Jaldhup has its sweetness well-blended with acidity. The fruits of Jaldhup again have a characteristic alcoholic flavor of their own.

Pineapple Farming Basic Steps

Propagation

Actually, the performance of the plant depends on vigor, growth rate, the time taken for bearing, fruit size and quality of planting material. Besides type and size of plant material also results in variation in the performance of plants.

So, if you use planting material of different types and sizes, it results in a poor rate of plant establishment, uneven growth of the plants, uneven flowering and harvesting stretched over a long time. Therefore, it is always advisable to use the uniform-sized material of monotype. Hence, selection of right type and size of planting material is essential for commercial plantings.

Planting

Planting time is very important for the natural flowering period. However, it differs from region to region. By the time of natural flowering, if the plant does not attain the optimum physiological maturity, either it escapes flowering the next season or if flowering is induced in the same season, the plant, bear very small fruits.

Hence, the ideal time of planting is 12-15 months before the peak flowering season under natural conditions. Generally, it varies from December to March in different regions. Time of planting also varies from place to place depending upon the time of onset of the monsoon and the intensity of its precipitation.

The plant density of 63,400 plants/ha (22.5 cm x 60 cm x 75 cm) is ideal for subtropical and mild humid conditions. However, for hot and humid conditions a plant density of 53,300 plants/ha spaced at 25 cm from plant to plant within a row, 60 cm from row to row and 90 cm from trench to trench (25 cm x 60 cm x 90 cm) provides a high yield.

Manuring

Pineapple is a shallow feeder with high N and K requirement. Before plantation, you must test the soil to identify the nutrient deficiencies. However, you can apply fertilizer under rainfed conditions when moisture is available.

Intercultural Activity

Some of the most important intercultural activities are earthing up, weed control, mulching, and removal of suckers, slips, and crowns.

Actually, earthing up is an essential operation in pineapple cultivation aimed at good anchorage to the plants. It involves pushing the soil into the trench from the ridge where trench planting is a common practice.

Additionally, mulching with black polythene and saw-dust results in better growth of plants than white polythene and paddy-straw.

Irrigation

Generally, you must try to grow pineapple under rainfed conditions. However, the supplementary irrigation can help produce good sized fruits in areas having optimum rainfall. Irrigation can also help establish an offseason planting to maintain its year-round production. In scanty rainfall and during hot weather irrigating pineapple once in 20-25 days is advisable.

Harvesting, Yield & Post Harvest Management

Pineapple plants flower 10-12 months after planting and fruits become ready 15-18 months after planting. Irregular flowering results in the harvesting spread over a long period.

You can expect an average yield of 50 to 80 tonnes/ha. However, the per acre yield highly depends on the plant density and cultivation practices. Additionally, you can expect an economic life of 5 years from a pineapple plantation project.

With a slight color change at the base of developing fruits, it could be harvested for canning purpose. But for table purpose, you need to retain the fruits till they develop golden yellow color. You can keep the fruits with the crown without damage for 10-15 days harvesting.

Pineapple farming is a highly profitable business. And you can maximize the profit where you can offer value-added products of pineapples.