Pineapple – Ananas sativus

The pineapple

The pineapple belongs to the Bromeliads family, to the Ananas genus and to the sativus or comosus species. It is an evergreen plant consisting of a short stem or caule, 30-40 cm high, on which narrow, 70-100 cm long, sword-shaped, pointed leaves with a thorny or helpless edge develop, which form a dense rosette having a variable diameter from 70 to 150 cm. The inflorescences are composed of three-petalled blue flowers, inserted into the flowering stem with pink bracts and gathered in a spike that ends with a tuft of leaves.

The pineapple is a short-day plant, so it blooms when the days are shorter, near the winter solstice; fruit ripening takes place after 5-6 months. From each flower ripens a fruit that is a berry, each of them mutually welds itself forming a fleshy infructescence, also deriving from the swelling of the ear; the bracts remain on the outside of the fleshy fruit, it is endowed with an intensely perfumed acidulous juice.

Climate and terrain

Pineapple prefers tropical and subtropical climates, is native to Central and Latin America, but is grown in areas located on the edge of the tropics such as Australia and South Africa. The ideal temperature for growth is 28-30 ° C, while for fruiting at 22-24 ° C a very high quality is obtained; if the temperatures were below 15 ° C, the plant experiences a very delayed development.

In the regions close to the equator in conditions of high cloudiness with high temperatures the vegetative activity of the plant is developed, while temperatures around 8 ° C cause the phenomenon of the black heart, with the central part darkening inside.

This plant is demanding in light; shading conditions lead to a loss of weight of the fruit with a greater development of the leaves. The pineapple prefers loose, medium-textured soils, at least 50 cm deep and tendentially acidic, it also adapts to well-drained clay soils, while it avoids compact ones as root asphyxiation makes the plant sensitive to parasites present in the soil.


The pineapple cultivars are divided into five varietal groups, which are distinguished from each other based on the characteristics of the leaf, the fruit and resistance to sunstroke, also called wilt.

The Cayenne group is characterized by thorny leaves in an apical position, cylindrical in shape and an intense orange color. The fruits have a pale yellow pulp, a sweet, slightly acidic flavor, a cylindrical shape and can be kept in a box; they are very sensitive to sunstroke.

The varieties of the Queen group have thorny, conical and yellow leaves, the fruits are extremely sweet, with yellow flesh and are suitable for the fresh market; they tolerate wilt.

The Spanish cultivars have thorny, globular and intense orange colored leaves, the fruits are acidulous and aromatic, with pale yellow-white pulp, with a high fiber content and suitable for transport; resist the sun’s blow.

The Abacaxi group is characterized by the pink basal color of the leaves and a very small central axis, while the Mordilona varieties are characterized by completely defenseless foliage.

Cultivation techniques

The pineapple propagates through vegetative parts including the crown of the fruit and the basal suckers, the rooting is rapid and in the best of cases the fruiting takes place one year after the planting, usually 18-20 months are necessary. In areas where the sun is very strong, an intercropping is made with citrus fruits, papaya or coconut palm in order to create shade and protect the plants from the sun’s impact. The plant is carried out in single rows, obtaining a fruit of greater size (2 kg) with 15000-20000 plants / ha and in coupled rows, with a variable investment between 44000 and 60000 plants / ha and planting spans of 90 X 40 X 25-30 cm. Varieties sensitive to wilt in the absence of intercropping need to close the leaves in bunches and tie at the top to ensure the protection of the fruit from strong sunstroke and scale insects. For the control of weeds on the row, a vegetable mulching is implemented using rice straw or other materials. With regard to fertilization, it must be taken into account that pineapple absorbs nutritional elements, except potassium, until the moment of fruit production, when it no longer forms the leaves. Phosphorus, calcium and magnesium are administered before planting, while nitrogen and potassium are distributed during the vegetative cycle, up to two weeks before flower induction. In areas where rainfall exceeds 2000 mm per year, on well-drained soils, the pineapple is able to bear fruit well, the minimum annual water requirement is 600 mm which must be distributed frequently.

It is important to harvest the fruit at the right degree of ripeness, because the sugars are formed only before detachment, the harvest takes place in 2-3 solutions, with productions between 50 and 100 t / ha at the first harvest.

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