COMMERCIAL PAPAYA FARMING
Pawpaw plants do not tolerate freezing temperatures. Papayas fruits are delicious and grow throughout the year. These fruits are eaten alone or in salad without the skin. The papaws fruits are low in calories and high in potassium, vitamin A and C.Papaya (Carica papaya) is a perennial fruit tree widely cultivated in tropical and subtropical climates for its nutritive and medicinal values. It is very popular in Kenya where it is grown for both local and export markets.
Pawpaw is widely cultivated fruit tree in the tropics and subtropics. It is grown in Kenya as a domestic fruit and small-scale cash crop. The fruits are low in calories and rich in vitamins A, B1, B2 & C, iron and potassium. Papayas enzymes promote digestion easing constipation. Sale of fresh papaya provides regular income for farmers since the fruits are produced throughout the year.
Pawpaw have a flat root system and they do not require very deep soil. But because pawpaw are not tolerant of stagnant water, the soil must be well drained. Drenching that lasts longer than 48 hours may cause the death of the plants, so be careful. On the other hand, if dry periods are longer than 2 months, irrigation is necessary.
But a drier period at the time of ripening is beneficial for fruit quality.
Pawpaw does not like strong wind. It should be grown in sheltered places, but in full sunshine. It may need staking and windbreaks for proper growth and fruit production. Wind breaks should be spaced at distances of about 10 to 20 times their height
Continuous cropping in the same field may result in poor growth and cause disease problem to pawpaw trees
The pawpaw plant has male, female, hermaphrodite (bisexual flower) and some other complex forms. Typically, the fruits from female plants have a short shape, while fruits from hermaphroditic plants are longer.
Female plants –These fruit trees grows female flowers only. Female flowers are usually single blooms, bigger, and very close to the trunk.
Male plants –These grows male flowers only. Male flowers have long, thin stalks with several small blooms.
Hermaphrodites trees –These grows both male and female flowers. Therefore allow 4 plants per hole and later thin out to single trees when flowers appear. You may need to consult your gardening advisor for identification of the flowers.
Pawpaw prefer very fertile soils with high organic matter content. This should already be considered when choosing a site. Pawpaw is a heavy feeder and has a continuous demand for nutrients. Increased nutrient uptake is observed after flowering. For fertilization, use mature and composted animal manure at a rate of 2 to 5 kg per plant and per year, plant teas and compost. A sufficiently thick layer of mulch is very beneficial and especially important in dry seasons.
- The solo variety which produces small round sweet fruits with uniform size and shape. It is hermaphroditic and popular for both export and local market.
- The mountain variety grows at high altitudes with small fruits only suitable for jam and preserves.
- The sunrise variety that produces smooth pear shaped fruit of high quality, weighing 400 to 650 grams.
- The red royale that is an improved breed and give good quality yields.
- The vegetative propagated papaya using tissue culture resulting in superior plants that are disease resistant, high yields and are easy to maintain and harvest since the trees are short.
Growing of Papayas is by seed which are extracted from sound papaw fruits and healthy trees. Seeds of Papayas may be direct sown or grown in a nursery first.
Papayas can be directly sown at 6 seeds per hole, and then thinned to four plants per hole after germination and reducing the plants to only one per hole after flowering. In plants where male and female flowers are born on different trees, male trees are allowed at the rate of 25:100 females as pollinators.
Prepare raised beds measuring 1m wide and any convenient length. Pawpaw seeds are sown at a depth of 1 cm in rows which are 15cm apart. Water the beds heavily before sowing the pawpaw seed and regularly thereafter. Young plants are ready for transferring to the field at a height of 10-15cm.plants are sown at a spacing of 3m x 3m in holes measuring 60cm wide and 60cm deep. Mix 18 kg of well decomposed manure with 60 grams of double super phosphate fertilizer and fill the hole with this mixture plus the top soil, and sow four papaw seedlings per hole which will be thinned out to one per hole at flowering. Firm the soil around the trees seedlings, then Top- dress with 40 grams of CAN fertilizer per hole. Apply 200g of CAN or ASN on individual papaws once a year at the beginning of rains.
Pests and Diseases
- Papaya crinkle virus seen as wrinkled mature leaves and kills the plant.
- Black spots which appear on the fruit in humid and wet weather.
- Root rot which is common due to over-watering.
- Birds and fruit bats.
- Broad mites, aphids, caterpillars and fruit fly.
Remedies to Pests and Diseases
- For black spots that appear on the fruit spray with an organic copper-based fungicide spray.
- For root rot, water appropriately
- For birds and fruit bats, pick the fruits as soon as they start to turn colour.
- To reduce fruit rot and fungal problems, pick the fruit early and ripen it indoors.
- To get rid of fruit fly, hang fruit fly Traps around the trees.
For mildew, ensure good airflow around the plants and can be controlled by spraying with appropriate fungicides
Pawpaw is used:
- In the making of jam by blending with other ingredients such as soybeans
- Pawpaw latex is an ingredient used in the pharmaceutical industry as well as making detergent.
- The extract oil from pawpaw seeds is used in the beauty industry.