Agriculture

What is Dragon Fruit?

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Dragon fruit belongs to the family of perennial climbing herbaceous plants. Recently, it has attracted the attention of Indian farmers not only due to its vibrant colors but also due to its nutritional values. It has high contents of Vitamin C, minerals, and antioxidant potential. It has a sweet and crunchy taste. The scales of thi fruit are similar to that of dragons and therefore it is called dragon fruit. On average it is 6-12 cm large and is oval in shape. With green scales and pink skin, and white pulp with edible black seeds make it look alluring. This fruit is most famous in Israel, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, and Thailand but now it has also grown on a large scale in India as well. Its production is maximum in areas with low rainfall. It is treated as both; an ornamental plant for its beauty and fruit-producing for its numerous health benefits. Dragon fruit is called Pitaya, Pitahaya, strawberry pear, and noblewoman across the world.

Dragon Fruit Benefiet

Dragon fruit farming procedure

One of the most prominent features of this fruit crop is that it can grow at extreme temperatures. It grows best in tropical regions with rainfall as minimum as 40-60cm. The ideal temperatures range from 20-30 degrees celsius. It can also be grown in the pots inside the home.

Dragon fruit farming is an easy process. However, growing dragon fruit from seeds is a time-consuming process and can take several years to bear fruit.

Following are some steps of growing dragon fruit from seeds.

Preparation of soil bed:

Dragon fruit plants require at least 6 hours of direct sunlight. Choose a sunny area for planting its seeds. The soil should be well-draining. It is sensitive to constantly wet roots but it requires a little more water than other cactus plants.

Seed preparation:

Seed preparation is the easiest step of all. Seeds can be collected by cutting the ripened fruit in half and removing the seeds from the pulp by washing it. Then place the seeds on a wet cloth or paper towel for a minimum of 12 hours.

Seed planting: 

Dragon fruit seeds don’t need to be planted deeply in the soil. Randomly spread the seeds with a free hand over the soil surface and cover with soil.

Irrigation:

The soil should be evenly and consistently moistened. To prevent the moisture from evaporating, it should be covered with plastic wrap. It will hold the moisture in the soil until the seeds germinate.

Thining and transferring of plants:

As the shoots grow, thin the plants to make room for each of them to grow properly. A mature plant will require a 20 inches wide space for proper growth.

Cultivation through plant cuttings

The dragon fruit crops can also be cultivated through plant cuttings. These cutting have the potential to grow in a full identical parent plant. Only one thing should be kept in mind these cuttings should be planted in the soil in the same direction as the branch was growing from which it was cut. Normally, they should be planted in the upright direction for proper growth.

Taking care of the Dragon fruit plant:

This plant requires proper care for ideal growth. It should be pruned regularly to avoid the attack of pests and to make it disease-free. When the dead or withered branches are removed, the plant growth increases exponentially. Furthermore, it should be fertilized at least once a month to provide the required nutrients. It cannot survive in cold weather, so keeping the plant at an optimum temperature of about 70 degrees Fahrenheit will help it grow fully.

Varieties of Dragon fruit

The following are different types of dragon fruit plants.

1. Red Dragon Fruits

The red dragon fruit grows on slender, and tall cacti that are often seen on fences, trees, or walls. The red dragon fruit looks almost similar to the white dragon fruit on the exterior. Having vibrant colors and oval shapes, these fruits are about 10 cm long and can weigh up to a pound. Their skin is a pinkish purple with juicy, spongy scales. Because the skin is only 3 mm thick on average, the ratio of peel to the flesh is good. As a result, red dragon fruit contains more antioxidants than white dragon fruit.

2. Green Dragon Fruit

These fruits grow on the Bruni Green Dragon plant which is extremely high-yielding. It has green edible scales with white, delicious pulp. It is a small-sized fruit averagely weighing around 0.3 to 0.7 pounds.

3. White Dragon Fruit

This fruit is grown in America, Mexico, Australia, and Southeast Asia. It has pink peel with fleshy scales, and the pulp is white with black small edible seeds. It tastes sweet and the skin texture is like that of pear and kiwi fruit.

4. Yellow Dragon Fruit

This type of dragon fruit is smaller compared to other varieties of dragon fruit. It has an elliptical shape. The sizes of yellow dragon fruit vary with climatic conditions. Normally they are 10 cm long and 7 cm wide.

5. Pink Dragon Fruit

The key features of pink dragon fruit are it is low-calorie and rich antioxidant fruit. Along with the skin, its flesh is also pink. According to the World Journal of Pharmacy, dragon fruit is extremely effective in the treatment of inflammatory diseases like Got and Arthritis.

6. Blue Dragon Fruit

In India, blue dragon fruit is cultivated from April to October. It has blue skin and succulent pinkish scales and red pulp. It is highly nutritious because of its high vitamin content.

7. Purple Dragon Fruit

It is one of the most captivating fruit in the world because of its vibrant purple pulp. Dragon fruit has a wide variety of flesh colors ranging varying from white (having pink or yellow skin) to dark pink and red, with tiny black edible seeds. Flavor varies as the color of flesh changes.  Purple dragon fruits taste mildly sweet and juicy.

Types of Dragon Fruit
Dragon Fruit

Nutrient profile and Health benefits

Due to its high nutritional value, dragon fruit is considered one of the tropical nutrition-dense foods. It is high in nutrients and low-calorie fruit. According to reports, it is said to control chronic diseases, improve gastrointestinal health and boost the body’s immune system. It also contains a variety of vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber. All these healthy properties together make Dragon Fruit the best alternative for weight loss, diabetes control, cholesterol lowering etc.

USDA Fooddatabase states that 100g of fresh dragon fruit contains 81% carbs, 4% proteins, and aroun 13% Vitamin C and calcium, providing 1100 Kj of energy.

Conclusion

Due to the restricted number of commercial farmers and increasing demand, the market potential of Dragon Fruit in the region is expected to be quite high. Off-season production of Dragon Fruit is possible in India, and the market price during the off-season ranges from INR 150.00 to 250.00 per kg. Production is likely to increase in the future, so it is important to review marketing techniques.

FAQs

Is dragon fruit farming profitable in India?

By the second year, a modest production of 20 kg per pole is possible. Profitable Dragon Fruit production starts in the second year if the price is fixed at Rs 100 per kg and in the third year if the price is fixed at Rs 50 per kg.

How to start a dragon fruit farm?

Dragon fruit plants can grow in virtually any type of habitat and soil. Plants require only healthy soil and access to full light. You could start your own home-based business tomorrow with very little start up cost if you can conveniently market your products in the region.

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