Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Pineapples - Easily Propagated

Can the top of the pineapple fruit be cut off and planted in order to produce a new plant? The answer is YES! There are many variations on how to propagate pineapple. The drier the environment, the more precise the instructions need to be followed. In Hawaii, especially in high rainfall areas, propagating pineapple is relatively easy. 

The simplest method is to cut off the top of the pineapple, called the crown, as you normally would do when cutting the fruit. Let the top sit in a shaded, dry area for 2-7 days. Before planting, remove the dried fruity portion and some of the lower leaves exposing  ½ -1 inch of the stem. Letting the crown sit for several days will seal the wound and make it less susceptible to rot. When planting, keep in mind that the mature plant can grow to 3-4 feet in diameter and height. Mature plants also have a tendency to fall over, thus planting several together, they will give each other support.

Alternatively, the stem can be placed in a shallow glass of water. Be careful to place only the stem and not the leaves in the water.  After a short time, roots will form; it is then ready to be planted outside.  

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Mealybugs and Aphids on the Roots

Pineapple mealybug             

 There are species of aphids and mealybugs that attack the roots and the crown line of plants. Many times when plants are pulled out of the pot, whitish fuzzy bugs in the soil or on the roots can be seen; they are the root aphids or root mealybugs.

In Hawaii, the pineapple mealybug is common. The adult females are described as plump and convex in body shape and pinkish in body color. Primarily a pest of pineapple and other bromeliads, yet these mealybugs also attack banana, celery, citrus, cotton, coffee and hibiscus. Wherever pineapple is grown, the pest is present including all of the major Hawaiian Islands. Plants rarely die from a mealybug infestation.

Control of this pest depends on controlling the ants which provide the mealybugs shelter and protection from predators and parasites. Without ants, mealybug populations are small and are slow to invade new areas because of the presence of the many natural enemies (the good guys) that are in Hawaii.

In infested areas of the garden, after the crop is removed, the soil should be turned over and all crop residue removed including grassy weeds which may harbor the mealybugs.  Host plants of this pest (listed above) should not be grown in this bed for at least a year.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Avocados: Bountiful Blooms, Few Fruit

 Avocado, as well as citrus trees, produce an abundance of bloom. But only a fraction of those flowers remain to produce fruit. Furthermore, after the fruit is set, some premature fruit drop will occur; it is the natural thinning process.  

Yet any stress occurring during the time of bloom and young fruit development, will cause additional fruit drop.  These stresses include too much water, not enough water, nutrient deficiencies, vog (volcano emissions), and a few days of sudden high temperatures. Heavy rains during the bloom period can also contribute to low or no fruit set. Since pollination is principally by bees, a lack of them will also add to poor fruit set. 

In addition, avocado trees are categorized according to their flower type, either “A” type or “B” type flowers.  When only trees of the same flower type are planted together, they will produce fruit. However, when the opposite flower type is planted nearby, production is increased.  Having both flower types in a commercial orchard is important. In a neighborhood setting, a high probability exists that a tree with an opposite flower type will be in the area. Also note that avocados will produce a heavy set of fruit one year and usually rest the next by producing a lighter set.

If trees are a grafted variety, they should begin to produce in three to four years, while avocado seedlings (non-grafted) will take much longer to produce, perhaps seven to ten years.