Manila Bulletin

"Gold rush: Get to know the “golden tilapia” of this La Union resort

PAPAYA thrives in tropical and subtropical climates with well-draining soil. Most areas in the Philippines are suitable for papaya cultivation due to their warm temperatures and adequate rainfall.

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In some parts of papaya producing areas, they start planting from February to April and August to October. If you ever ask if there is a season for papaya, well, papaya is not a seasonal fruit. The fruiting starts from the 5th or 6th month for most varieties and continuous fruiting up to the 2nd to 3rd year. The fruits taste better during summer in most varieties, but actually, right fertilization and soil conditions plays a major role in growth and quality of papaya fruits/plants.

Papaya plants need a balanced blend of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (NPK) fertilizers. Organic manure and compost can also enhance soil fertility and regular applications of micronutrients like magnesium, iron, and zinc are beneficial for healthy fruit development.

Do you know how much space is required between papaya plants during plantation? For optimal growth, it has been always recommended to do spacing between papaya plants at around 2-3 meters apart in both directions. This allows enough room for the plants to spread and receive adequate sunlight and air circulation. Papaya does have lots of enemies in the field, too. Common pests in papaya cultivation include aphids, fruit flies, and mealybugs but some natural predators like ladybugs and lacewings can help control these pests. Some varieties like Red Lady Papaya from Known You Seed Philippines are resistant to diseases like papaya ringspot virus. Planting disease-resistant and tolerant varieties and practicing good sanitation can mitigate risks.

Did you know that there is a new papaya variety from Known You? Blondie F1 Papaya is a hermaphrodite variety that is tall and generally starts bearing fruit within 5 to 6 months after planting, depending on the environmental conditions. Regular size of fruits is around 1.5 kilograms to a maximum of 4 kilograms. It has a soft firm flesh and yellow to bright yellow-orange flesh color with excellent flavor. Blondie F1 also has good shipping ability and approximately 5-7 days’ shelf life.

Blondie fruits are ready for harvest when they already show a slight yellow trace or line at the bottom of the fruit. Most farmers prefer the elongated fruits as it’s the one kind that is easier to sell, to pack and easier to transport. However, this type of papaya is also a hermaphrodite like the Red Lady variety, it has two kinds of fruits; the round and the elongated one.

Mr. Denmark De Guzman from Tarlac thought of using a technique that is also famous in Taiwan, the three-tree selection to which you will plant 3 seedlings with 25 cm distance. While growing, you will see no difference at all, but on the 4th month, on the tree’s first showing of their fruits, you will already see which one grows elongated fruits. After identifying one, you will remove the two other trees that grew the round ones, he says. But what if the three of them grew the same elongated fruits? You should select the healthiest one, he added.

This method will cost much higher expenses than the traditional one, but Mr. De Guzman explains that he prefers the elongated fruits, he expects higher yield from it and therefore he also expects to only sell the “manibalang” or half ripe fruit which costs higher value in the market. He does not have to bother selling the small green fruits as “pang-gulay” since every fruit from all the trees will be sold as “manibalang.”

Blondie fruits are ready for harvest when they already show a slight yellow trace or line at the bottom of the fruit. Avoid waiting too long, do not wait until the fruit skin turns totally yellow or orange as overripe fruits may attract pests and become less flavorful.

This may look weird to some but eventually people will learn that if we go for value and quality of our produce, this method will be very useful to all papaya farmers. -Mr . De Guzman.





Manila Bulletin Publishing Corp