Papaya production in the Philippines- part 1

 

Papaya production in the Philippines

By:Onofre Ballesteros

 

Papaya is a versatile crop that is grown year round. It produces fruits almost continuously as long as there is adequate soil moisture. Temporary cessation of fruiting usually occurs during the dry months. Moisture stress causes sex reversal towards maleness of flowers, thus resulting in the failure of plants to bear fruits. That’s why there are vacant spaces or escapes on nodes of the tree trunks.

Ripe fruits are usually eaten as breakfast dessert, while green fruits are used as a vegetable for such dishes as “tinolang manok.” The green fruits are also picked or processed into papain.

Ripe fruits are excellent sources of vitamin C. It also contains vitamin A and B, thiamine, riboflavin and niacin. It contains seven to nine percent fructose sugar but has very little starch.

Papain – an enzyme derived from green papaya fruits – is used in the preparation of food, beverages, medicines, in softening wool, in silk degumming, as a meat tenderizer, and as a stabilizer in beef processing.

The average production of papaya fruits  per hectare from 1980-1987 remained almost static – 11.28 tons in 1980 and 14.51 tons in 1987.

The area devoted to papaya in 1980 was 8,440 hectares and only 6,090 hectares in 1987. Southern Tagalog region had the biggest hectarage reduction attributable mainly to the occurance of the dreaded disease called ringspot virus, which wiped out large papaya plantings in Cavite and Batangas.

Varieties . Genetically homogenous varieties with similar flower types and fruit charcterisitics are non-existent due to the high degree of cross pollination among plants of divers genetic characteristics. Existing varieties are generally identified by meaning of contrasting phenotype characteristic  such as dwarf versus purple; yellow versus reddish flesh and small versus large fruits.

Common varieties include the Cavite Special and Solo. The former is co called because of its dominance in Cavite and neighboring provinces. It produces large and oblong fruits that each weigh three to five kilograms. It is dwarf and highly hermaphroditic (bearing both male and female flowers). IT begins to flower six to eight months after planting. The flesh is thick and yellowish.

The Solo variety usually refers to the Hawaiian strain and is so called because one fruit is adequate for one serving per person. It is hermaphroditic and produce high quality fruits with excellent flavors. Flesh color depends on the strain. For instance, sunrise has reddish flesh while Kapoho and Waimanalo have yellowish flesh color.

The fruits have excellent eating quality. Fruit shape varies from round to pear-shaped and measures 15 centimeters long and 10 centimeters in diameter.

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