Article from the Tropical Fruit News magazine of the Miami Rare Fruit Council International
by Gene Joyner




The Pineapple

Sourced from the Palm Beach Chapter of Rare Fruit Council Newsletter - July 1995

  The pineapple (Ananas comosus) is a popular world wide fiuit familiar to almost everyone and can be grown easily either as a container plant or in the landscape. Pineapples are a member of the bromeliad family and are native to Tropical America.

They come in a number of different varieties, but most have long thin strap-like leaves bearing spiny tips and usually small spines along the leaf margin. although some varieties of pineapple have no spines, most of the ones found in nature do.

Pineapples reach a height of about three to four feet at maturity with a width of almost six feet and take from sixteen to thirty months to reach maturity and produce their delicious fiuit. Most plants flower in our area during the late winter and spring with the fiuit ripening during the summer months.

Plants should be protected from cold weather since they can be injured by temperatures below 32°F and will be killed at about 27° F..

When growing outdoors grow in full sun or light shade for best results and make sure the soil is slightly acid since they do not do well in high alkaline soils. When putting out in the garden, space the plants twelve to eighteen inches apart and make sure you leave sufficient aisle for walking between rows if multiple rows are planted.

Many people like to plant pineapples on a slight bed to be sure that they receive well drained conditions. Plants do poorly in soils subject to regular flooding.

Propagation of pineapples can be from the crown, which is on the top of the fiuit, suckers which are below the fiuit, or ratoons which are from below ground at the base of the plant. Generally, most people start pineapples from the crown of the fiuit, but this is considered one of the poorest planting pieces and ratoons which come from below ground at the base of the plant are considered the best propagation material.

Pineapples are subject to nematodes on sandy soils and improving the soil with organic matter will help to slow down this problem. Mealybugs are a major insect problem in some areas and often attack the root of the plant in addition to the top portions.

Plants in the soil must be in areas that have warm temperatures for proper growth and often during the winter months plants stop growing when temperatures reach 55° F. or lower.

Fruits come in many varieties, but all at maturity are yellow or golden yellow. Don't pick fruit until full maturity for best quality. The following varieties are grown in Florida and have proven to be very well adapted: Smooth Cayenne, Red Spanish, Abakka, Natal Queen, Pernambuco and several others.

Weeds may be a major problem in pineapple patches because of their spiny leaves, and at the beginning when plants are first installed a three to four inch layer of good mulching material should be put around the plants. This should eliminate weeding for at least one year.

Fertilize pineapples with a general purpose type fertilizer every four to six weeks to promote rapid growth and fruiting.

Ripe Pineapple:

Selecting a pineapple that will prove sweet and juicy is a skill that requires practice. Some of us pull a leaf from the crown on top of the fruit, judging ripeness by how easily the leaf comes away. Others thump the pineapple and listen to the sound, while others look at the color or at the state of withered blossoms still adhering to each section of the fruit. According to Euell Gibbon's in his Beachcomber's Handbook. a thump is the way to go.

A thump makes a thud-thud-thud sound if the fruit is ripe and juicy, but a sharp pink-pin-pink if it's green. It's tricky to pick a ripe one everytime, but, oh, the rewards when you do!

If you've cut into a pineapple that's not quite ripe, try cooking it. Poach it some sugar syrup as they do in Mexico, make a pineapple upside-down cake, or chop it up, add some sugar and spices and make pineapple jam or pancake syrup or ice cream sauce. That little bit of cooking can truly save you from wasting an underripe fruit.



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Bibliography

Joyner, Gene. "The Pineapple." tropicalfruitnews.org. Tropical Fruit News, Miami Rare Fruit Council. From the Palm Beach Chapter of Rare Fruit Newsletter. July 1995. Web. 2 Mar. 2017.

Published 2 Mar. 2017 LR
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