Papaya production in the Philippines- part 2

Hermaphrodite fruits are generally pear-shaped while female fruits are more or less round. The fruits weigh about 450 grams and are produced about eight to 10 months after outplantng. The plants are one to 1.5 meters tall.

Varietal name is usually derived from the place of origin. Examples are Makapunong Isabela, Los Banos Pinakwan, Legaspi no. 1 znd Cagayan red stem.

Temperature and soil requirements. A tropical plant that originated from South America, papaya was introduced into the Philippines via Mexico. It prefers warm areas with temperatures ranging from 21 to 33 degrees Celsius.

A minimum annual rainfall of 1,200 millimeters is sufficient, well-distributed over the growing season. The plants cannot withstand strong winds. Lodging and stalk breakage are common during the typhoon season.

Papaya thrives best in well-drained soil with high organic matter. Water-logged areas are unsuitable; stagnant water within the root area for 24 hours will injure the plants and reduce yields.

Favorable soil pH is between 5.8 to 7.0

Seed selection. Due to high plant variability, it is best to obtain seeds from hand –pollinated flowers. Flowers of selected high-yielding hermaphrodite plants should be bagged before opening to prevent the entry of unwanted pollen grains.

As soon as the flowers are ready for pollination you may transfer pollen from another hermaphrodite or selected female t the stigma of bagged flowers.

Follinated flowers should be covered with another bag, Female flowers pollinated with pollen from hermaphrodite plants will produce 50 percent female and 50 percent hermaphrodite  plants. On the other hand , hermaphrodite flowers pollinated with hermaphrodite pollen will give 33 percent female and 67 percent hermaphrodite.

Female flowers pollinated with pollen from male plants will yield in 50 percent male and 50 percent female plants.

Since productivity depends on the number of bearing plants, getting seeds for planting from female flowers pollinated with male pollen is undesirable since 50 percent of theplants will be non-productive male plants.

Seed propagation. Selected seeds should first be sown on a seedbed. When the seedlings developed three true leaves, they should be transferred into plastic bags. The soil mixture for plastic bags should consist of sterilized garden soil and organic matter. Sterilized soil minimizes damping-off diseases and nematodes and eliminates weed seeds.

The use of organic  matter will provide the seedlings in the morning because a damp and humid environment at night will favor the occurrence of fungus diseases.

One week before outplanting, harden the seedlings by exposing them to direct sunlight and withholding watering. This will acclimatize the seedlings to transplanting  stress. Transplant when seedlings are 15 to 20 centimeters tall or when they are three to four weeks old.

Field preparation. This involves, layouting, digging of holes, applying hydrated lime or quicklime if the soil is acidic, incorporating organic matter, or animal manure and basal chemical  fertilizer with surface soil immediately before transplanting.

Thorough land preparation is accomplished by several alternate plowings and harrowing. This will minimize weed seeds that may compete with the seedling for sunlight, moisture and nutrients. Depending on the plant stature, the recommendation spacing is three meters by three meters or three meters between rows and two meters between plants.

In areas like Cavite where papaya is a popular intercrop, spacing may be wider. Provide drainage canals in flat land to avoid water accumulation.

In slightly rolling terrain however, construct contours to prevent rapid water runoff that causes soil erosion.

Source:Greenfields 1993

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