Papaya also known as “Carica Papaya” is a tropical fruit having commercial importance because of its high nutritive and medicinal value. Papaya cultivation had its origin in South Mexico and Costa Rica. Papaya is a popular fruit famous for its high nutritive and medicinal values. It comes early in bearing than any other fruit crop, produces fruits in less than a year and the production of fruits is quite high per unit area. Papaya is cultivated more or less on a commercial scale in the foothills and plain valleys of all states of the north eastern region. As per statistics available 3,670 hectares yield 47,280 tonnes of papaya annually. It is the fourth important crop of this region. Among the hill states, Mizoram has the largest area under this crop, followed by Tripura and Manipur, While in production Manipur contributes the maximum, followed by Tripura and Mizoram. Papaya is a native crop of Mexico, and was introduced in India in the 16th century. Now it has become popular all over India and is the fifth most commercially important fruit of the country.
Total annual world production is estimated at 6 million tonnes of fruits. India leads the world in papaya production with an annual output of about 3 million tonnes. Other leading producers are Brazil, Mexico, Nigeria, Indonesia, China, Peru, Thailand and Philippines.
Best Climatic Condition for Growing Papayas
Papaya is basically a tropical plant. However, it also grows well in sub-tropical parts. Those foot hills which enjoy a mild winter are ideal for papaya cultivation. Low temperature and frost limit its cultivation in higher altitudes. Excessively cold nights cause the fruits to mature slowly and to be of poor quality in winter season. It can be grown from the sea level to an altitude of 1000 metres, but above an altitude of 600 metres, size and quality of fruits gradually decreases. As it grows in sub-tropical and tropical climates, it can be cultivated in a temperature range of 25-35°C. In this region it can be grown successfully as a rainfed crop in areas with 1500-2000 mm of evenly distributed annual rainfall, though yield may be poor when compared to an irrigated crop, because winter drought restricts development of the plants and the fruits. High humidity affects the sweetness of the fruits. Fruits tend to lose their sweetness in low temperature also. A warm and dry climate is needed during ripening season. It can not withstand strong winds being a tender and shallow-rooted plant.
Papaya Soil Requirements
Papaya can be farmed in many types of soils, except sandy and sticky or heavy clay soils. Papaya roots are very sensitive to water logging or standing water. Even forty eight hour submergence can be fatal for the plant. In heavy soils, water accumulates during high rainfall, and diseases like foot-root and root-rot occur, which may cause the plantation to be wiped out in a short time. Hence a slightly sloppy land is preferred to a perfectly levelled one. Hilly soil of this region is best suited, being well drained in organic matter.
Papaya is invariably propagated by seed. For propagation, seeds are collected from ripe, large sized, healthy fruits, essentially from female plants free from pests and diseases. Sometimes, the seeds fail to germinate because seed viability is completely lost in about 45 days. The removal of a mucilaginous covering (sarcotesta) from the seed is helpful in more rapid and uniform germination than those seeds with their sarcotesta intact. Removal of sarcotesta is easily done by fermenting the seed in a bucket of water for two to three days. The sarcotesta breaks easily when the fermented seeds are mixed with wood ash and are rubbed gently in a piece of gunny cloth. The seeds are washed to remove exogenous material by putting them in another pot or vessel containing water. The viable seeds sink in water, while the nonviable ones, sarcotestas and other debris float and can be skimmed off. The seeds can be sown immediately, or they can be stored after drying in shade in airtight containers. The seeds, however, should never be dried in sun, as this leads to a total loss of their viability.
Preparing Land for Growing Papayas
A well-drained upland is selected for cultivation. In open and high lying areas plants are exposed to strong winds or storm. Therefore, for proper establishment of papaya plantation, suitable wind break should be planted at the orchard boundary.
Planting in Papaya Farming Planting Material
Papaya is commercially propagated by seed and tissue culture plants. The seed rate is 250-300 g./ha. The seedlings can be raised in nursery beds 3m. long, im. wide and 10 cm. rngri as wen as in pois or poiymene bags. i he seeds after being treated with 0.1% Monosan (phenyl mercuric acetate), ceresan etc. are sown 1 cm. deep in rows 10 cm. apart and covered with fine compost or leaf mould. Light irrigation is provided during the morning hours. The nursery beds are covered with polythene sheets or dry paddy straw to protect the seedlings. About 15-20 cm. tall seedlings are chosen for planting in about two months.
Best Planting Time for Papayas
Papaya is planted during spring (February-March), monsoon (June-July) and autumn (October-November). Spacing between Papaya Plants:- A spacing of 1.8 x 1.8 m. is normally followed. However higher density cultivation with spacing of 1.5 x 1.5 m./ha enhances the returns to the farmer and is recommended.
High Density Papaya Planting
A closer spacing of 1.2 x 1.2 m. for cv. Pusha Nanha is adopted for high density planting, accommodating 6,400 plants/ha.
Best Planting Methods
The seedlings are planted in pits of 60x60x60 cm. size. In the summer months the pits are dug about a fortnight before planting. The pits are filled with top soil along with 20 kg. of farmyard manure., 1 kg. neem cake and 1 kg. bone meal. Tall and vigorous varieties are planted at greater spacing while medium and dwarf ones at closer spacing.
Manuring and Fertilizers
Papaya plant needs heavy doses of manures and fertilizers. Apart from the basal dose of manures (@ 10 kg./plant) applied in the pits, 200-250 g. each of N, P2O5 and K2O are recommended for getting high yield. Application of 200 g. N is optimum for fruit yield but papain yield increases with increase in N upto 300 g.A five month period from transplanting to first flowering is important for nutrition of papaya plants. The stem girth attained by a plant just before flowering decides the vigour and productivity of a plant. If the plant remains weak during this period owing to insufficient nutrition, production during the rest of its life is adversely affected. Therefore, fertilizers should be applied at frequent intervals and at proper rates for building a stout and vigorous plant before flowering, and to maintain its subsequent growth and productivity.
In Papaya Farming , the importance of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium for good growth and yield in papaya has been realized. A fertilizer dose of 400g nitrogen, 250g phosphorous and 400g of potassium per plant per year should be applied in six split applications under irrigated conditions, although in rainfed conditions, it can be given in two split doses; the first in the beginning of monsoon and second in the later part. If rainfall is well distributed from March to November, then it can be given in three split doses. Each plant should also be given 20-25 kg of farm yard manure once every year. At the time of fertilization, a sufficient amount of moisture is essential in the soil. The fertilizers should be well mixed in irrigation rings or basins by light digging or hoeing. Application of fertilizers should be stopped 6 months before harvesting the crop.
The irrigation schedule is fixed on the basis of soil type and weather conditions of the region. Protective irrigation is provided in the first year of planting. During the second year, irrigation is provided at fortnightly interval in winter and at an interval of 10 days in summer. Basin system of irrigation is mostly followed. In areas having low rainfall, sprinkler or drip system can be adopted.
The papaya plant grows very quickly and comes to fruit in a year’s time, so intercrops are not usually taken in papaya plantations. Papaya itself is commonly used as an intercrop in tree fruit orchards. Papaya is a shallow-rooted plant, which should never be given deep tillage. Only removal of weeds is required whenever desired. Papaya requires a constant supply of moisture for continuous growth and production, but it is not possible in the hills of this region. However, when there is a danger of frost injury, supply of moisture is useful.
Insect, Pests and Diseases
The insect pests mostly observed are fruit fties (Bactrocera cucurbitae), ak grasshopper (Poekilocerus pictus), aphids (Aphis gossypii), red spider mite (Tetranychus cinnabarinus), stem borer (Dasyses rugosellus) and grey weevil (Myllocerus viridans). In all cases the infected parts need to be destroyed along with application of prophylactic sprays of Dimethoate (0.3%) or methyl demeton (0.05%). The main diseases reported are powdery mildew (Oidium caricae), anthracnose (Colletotrichum gloeosporioides), damping off and stem rot. Application of wettable sulphur (1 g./l.) carbendazim/thiophanate methyl (1 g./l.) and Kavach/Mancozeb (2 g./l.) has been found to be effective in controlling the diseases.
Harvesting, Packing, Marketing and Storing
Fruits are graded on the basis of their weight, size and colour. A good crop may fail if harvesting of fruits is not done properly due to perishable nature of fruits. The fruits should be left on the tree until they mature fully. Usually the fruits are harvested when they are full size, light green with a tinge of yellow at apical end. On ripening, fruits of certain varieties turn yellow but some of them remain green. When the latex ceases to be milky and become watery, the fruits are considered suitable for harvesting.
While picking the fruits from the trees, great care must be taken that these are not scratched and are free from any blemishes, otherwise there will be attack of fungus and the fruits may start decaying during marketing. Suitable grading must be done before packing. The fruit should be packed properly for dispatching to market.
Since papaya fruits are easily perishable, care should be taken to wrap the individual fruit in paper and finally packed in wooden crates surrounded by soft material all-round and saw dust specially on the bottom. In Papaya Farming, reduction in temperature or treatment with retardants reduces the duration for ripening and enhances shelf life. Post harvest treatment of fruits with silver nitrate or cobalt chloride extends the shelf life without affecting the palatability. Papaya fruits, at colour turning, can be stored at 7°C, which will have normal ripening. Shelf life of fruit is also extended by storing at 13°C with 1.0 to 1.5 percent oxygen or at 10 % CO. Waxing of fruit and storage under low pressure (LP) has also been successful in reducing the disease incidence and increasing the shelf life papaya.
In Papaya Farming, a tree with good management produces 25 to 40 fruits weighing 40to 60 kg in the first 15 to 18 months.
Year Approximate Yields (kg/ha)
1st Harvest 150 – 200
2nd Harvest 200 – 250
3rd Harvest 75 – 100
For local markets optimum temperature of 20°C was found both for ripening and satisfactory storage for two weeks. Storage below 10°C has been known to cause chilling injuries greater in mature- green than ripe papayas. Chilling injury symptoms include pitting, blotchy coloration, uneven ripening, skin scald, and increased susceptibility to decay. More than half ripe papayas (at lest 50% yellow) can be stored at 4-10°C without developing symptoms of chilling injuries. Exposure of papayas to temperatures above 30°C for more than 10 days result in heat injury. The symptoms include uneven ripening, blotchy ripening, poor color, abnormal softening, surface pitting and accelerated decay. For exports of papaya, hot water treatment is given by dipping the fruits for 30 minutes at 42°C immediately followed by a 49°C dip for 20 minutes. Quick cooling to 13°C after heat treatments minimizes heat injury. Controlled-atmosphere (CA) storage (2% O and 5-10% CO ) at 10°C has been found beneficial for 2 2 delayed ripening, firmness retention and avoid chilling injuries. Transport For local markets the fruits are transported in trucks while for distant markets it should be preferably sent through railways. Transportation through railways is faster and economical.
Bottom Line: Papaya Farming is very Profitable
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