Pineapple cultivation is a complex and highly technical process. During cultivation, pineapple flowering and fruit-bearing can be delayed or occur unevenly throughout the crop. Nevertheless, it is preferable to attain uniform maturity and control the time of harvest in order to avoid overproduction in the peak periods. In 1874, in the Portuguese Azores archipelago, botanists discovered that smoke would bring pineapple plants to bloom in six weeks. Thus, the discovery that ethylene was the activating ingredient in the smoke led to the development of other cultivating methods. More recently, a further advanced method for timing the pineapple flowering has been the use of a hormone, 1-naphthaleneacetic acid (NAA) that induces the formation of ethylene. This treatment is usually utilized when the plants are six months old, which is three months before their natural flowering cycle. Normally, plants treated with NAA produce long, cylindrical, pointed fruits, maturing over an extended period, with ripening beginning at the base and moving upwards. Ethylene treatments result in a square shouldered fruit maturing over a shorter period and ripening more uniformly.
Pineapple Cultivation and Farmfolio in Panama
Pineapple plants need many macro and micronutrients in order to flourish, the most important of which are nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. Moreover, they need to be fertilized in order to generate the expected yields. Most of this supplementary nutrition cycle is done with spray boom applications. Thus, a hectare of pineapple can generate up to 91,000 kilograms of fruit. Simultaneously, adequate execution of the nutrition package during the year of cultivation as well as controlled applications of fungicide and herbicide are needed to maintain optimum yields. The use of a plastic bedding throughout the pineapple plantation, a common practice in organic agriculture, is used to limit the growth of weeds and has shown excellent results in producing pineapples with no herbicide applications. Similarly, the manual work of weeding is significantly reduced when plastic is used. Additionally, plants are able to generate foliage quicker and soil moisture contents are maximized during the summer when plastic bedding is used.
As Farmfolio advances full-steam ahead with its Panama Golden Pineapple operation, we seek to maximize yields through both natural and organically induced flowering and fruit ripening. This ensures that consumers will have high-quality and ripe pineapples available to them at their local retailer. Once pineapples ripen in the fields, workers cut and collect them for transport to the pack house. Farmfolio’s pineapples are sorted manually according to the quality criteria agreed upon by the management team, based on the variety, weight, shape, and maturity, amongst other factors. Finally, processing in the pack house includes several steps, which are crucial to international commercialization. Before being shipped and sold to consumers, the pineapples are polished and go through a final selection at the pack house. Depending on international pricing and market preferences, the pineapple are weighed, boxed, and sent out for shipment.