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Dragon Fruit Production

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Dragon fruit is the fruit of several cactus species. These fruit are also known as pitaya, native to Mexico and Central America; Growing Dragon fruit commercially is common in places like Thailand and Vietnam where the climate makes the dragon fruit conditions just right for growing dragon fruit cactus all the way successfully to fruit. There are most commonly cultivated varieties of dragon fruit, red dragon fruit with red flesh and red skin, dragon fruit with yellow skin and white flesh, and red skin and white flesh. All dragon fruit varieties have the flesh or dragon fruit pulp filled with lots of tiny black seeds which are edible with the fruit. Dragon fruit is a seasonal type. These fruit mostly available around August to November. The health benefits of dragon fruit cactus fruit are many and varied. These dragon fruit nutritional benefits include helps to lower blood glucose level in type 2 diabetes. Dragon fruit health benefits and the great dragon fruit nutrition benefits make the dragon fruit cactus fruit popular all over the world. Dragon fruit vitamin C and dietary fiber are both positive nutritional benefits of dragon fruit among others. It has no dragon fruit cholesterol and very little cholesterol causing fats (fats are in the dragon fruit seeds). Plants in the cactus family, Cactaceae, originated in North, Central, and South America.

They are widely distributed, from coastal areas, to high mountains, and in tropical rainforests. Their appearance is just variable, from thimble-size species to enormous column species, and the epiphytic (climbing) species. The cactus families are highly adaptable to a new environment. The plants are able to tolerate drought, heat, poor soil, and cold. The modification of the stem for water storage, the reduction or absence of leaves, the waxy surface, and the night opening of the tissue for carbon dioxide uptake ( CAM process), enable the plants to tolerate harsh conditions. Terms used to describe plants with such adaptations include xerophytes and succulent. These adaptations to survive dry, hot conditions, apply to the above-ground plant.

The roots are not succulent and require small amount of water and cooler temperatures. Cacti will not tolerate saline or water-logged conditions, nor will they grow where there is an absence of plant life. In their native lands, the plants were used for many purposes, but one of major importance is the fruit as a food source. Fruits were collected from naturally established stands. Later, cutting were taken highly productive plants and grown around houses. A similar process is now in place several countries around the world to establish plantations of cacti with edible fruit, from column, shrubby and climbing types. Epiphytic or climbing cacti use their adventitious roots from the stem to cling to rocks and trees for support. These roots do not feed the host plant. The aerial roots collect water and nutrients from their surroundings, enabling the plant to survive if the base is severed. These features also allow the plant to be successfully grown from cutting.

Hylocereus undatus, a climbing cactus thought to be from tropical rainforests of Central and northern South America, is one species that has been used as a food source. It has already received worldwide recognition as an ornamental plant for the large, scented, bight-blooming flowers. Its fame is now spreading throughout the world for its fruit, especially in Vietnam and Australia. Other climbing cactus species grown for the edible fruit include Hylocereus polyrhizus and Selenicereus megalanthus. H. polyrhizus has red skin and red flesh dotted with edible black seeds, while S. megalanthus, the pitaya amarillo or yellow pitaya, has yellow skin and clear to white flesh containing edible black seeds. Columnar cacti, such as Cereus peruvianus – the apple cactus, and the shrubby Opuntia species – the cactus (prickly) pears, are also grown for their edible fruit. The Opuntia species are also well known due to their noxious weed status. Plants spread and establish rapidly from seeds and vegetative pieces. The potential for Hylocereus to become a weed is unknown at this stage.

The Philippines, in an effort to advance economically, has adopted this new trend to improve and increase the quality of life of the farmers, and to meet the needs of fast-growing economic potential. Dragon fruit is new and under developed horticultural crop in Palawan. Traditionally, dragon fruit is propagated through seeds or cutting. High production cost due to increased labor and management, spread of soil borne diseases and pests, shortage of quality planting materials are the major constraints and problems in dragon fruit production. Dragon fruit is gaining attention from the farming community in Palawan due to its economical and nutritional benefits.

Dragon fruit is gaining increased attention from the growers recently due to its economic potential and health benefits. The major focus of this approach is to improve the quality of life of the farmers. Specific objective of the proposed study are as: 1. To assess and study the dragon fruit trees currently growing in Palawan with the reference to location, then species or varieties. 2. To determine the factors on fruit production, yield growth, soil fertility and other growth factors on yield and 3. Introduction of dragon fruit varieties in Palawan and conduct experiment on vegetative propagation through seeds ir cutting in different varieties and gather data fruit production and propagation.

Statement of the Problem
This study aimed to determine the effect of this research on farmer’s attitude, interest towards this research. Specifically, the study attempt to answer the following questions:

1. What is the economic potential of this crop?
2. What is the health and nutritional benefits of this crop?
3. To what extent the growers may engage in the farming?

Scope of the study

Literature shows very limited work on production of dragon fruit. Lack of sufficient engineering and nutritional data of dragon fruit production, emphasizes that more effort need to be focused in these areas. Study on dragon fruit production was, therefore, started in undergraduate research work. In this study it will investigate the methods and evaluate the effects of materials they used for production. In brief, the scopes of the study are state as:

1. Preservation of dragon fruit
2. Reduce transportation cost to distant market
3. To increase shelf life
4. Review of packaging materials
5. Consumer preference to determine the quality dragon fruit

The planting of dragon fruit cover three main areas: controlling temperature and location, choosing the best style of propagation, and engineering the plant’s proximity to other related shrubs. Dragon Fruit is a very good income source, and can be sold locally or exported overseas. Fruits are healthy (high in vitamin C, fibers, anti-oxidants) and nutritious. It strengthens the human immune system and is used in the treatment of diabetes. Medicine made from flower and stem promotes blood circulation. Therefore, Dragon Fruit can be marketed as a prestigious “health food”.

Installation of concrete or wooden posts, distanced 3m between posts and 4m between rows with iron round bar on top to support the plants and trellis. Stem cuttings are set into soil, while seeds are planted in a plastic bag with some potting compos t and water. After sprouting for few weeks, transfer plastic bags. A combination of organic and complete fertilizer (16-16-16) is applied every three to four months. Regularly prune the plants to obtain an open, manageable and productive umbrella shape canopy which will induce new shoots for the next cropping season.

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