Growing Pineapple and Its Many Uses Part 1

Scientifically known as Ananas Comosus Merr., pineapple is one of the country’s most popular fruits. It is also one of the top earners of foreign exchange among the country’s agricultural commodities.

The fruit contains water, carbohydrates, substantial amount of Vitamin C and potassium, and other nutrients.

Several varieties of pineapple are available in the Philippines. One is the Smooth Cayenne or Hawaiian, which is the heaviest, most popular, and the best for canning. The Queen or African Queen, or Formosa is the sweetest. The Native Philippine Red or Red Spanish is cone-shaped and considered of medium quality. It is also grown for its fiber. The Cabezona is the largest, measuring approximately 8-12 inches long when hilly matured. Other varieties include the Buitenzorg or Java, Sugar, Loaf, and Abakka.

Pineapple is eaten fresh, and served sliced, chunked, or as juice. It is also a favorite when processed into marmalades, jam, jellies, or candies. Pineapple oil or essence is also used as flavoring for confectionery. Meat dishes and curries become tastier with (he fruit of the pineapple added. Chutney is another form of preserving the fruit. Nata de pina is a gelatinous product of the fermented fruit pulp which is eaten by as dessert or mixed with fruit salad, or halo halo – a delicious mixture of various sweets.

In addition to its nourishing uses, pineapple has long served medicinal purposes in folk medicine. It was found to arouse appetite while the unripe fruit was effective as a diuretic or contraceptive, and in the expulsion of intestinal worms. Some scientists found in its leaves possible cure for venereal diseases.

The crown or leaves of the plant also serve as raw material for wall paper and furnishings. The waste from canning can be further processed into animal feed.

But the most remarkable non-food use of the pineapple, which is associated only with the Philippines, is the fabric woven from the fibers extracted from its leaves. The introduction of the pineapple plant with the coming of the Spaniards did not take long before its potential as fiber was tapped by the natives who had long been weaving various fibers from other plants, including cotton and silk. The crude and difficult process of weaving the pineapple fibers produces fine and elegant fabric that is usually enhanced with embroidery and can hold its own beside other beautiful fabrics produced elsewhere in the world.

Commonly Grown Pineapple Varieties

Variety Size Shape Color of Flesh Flavor Texture
Smooth Cayenne 2.3 to 3.6 kg (big) Cylindrical Light yellow Sweet Slightly fibrious
Queen 0.45 – 0.95 kg (small) Tapering Deep yellow Sweet & crisp rich
Red Spanish 0.91 to 1.4 kg (medium) Barrel-shaped Pale yellow Sweet & coarse spicy Fibrous
Cabezona 8 to 12 in Cylindrical d. green to b. yellow

Soil and Climatic Requirement

Pineapple thrives over a wide range of soils and climatic conditions but the plant grows best at elevations of 150 to 240 meters above sea level with a temperature of 24-30 degrees Centigrade that should be relatively uniform throughout the year. Rainfall should be between 100 to 150 centimeters per year and, evenly distributed during the growing period, it is considered best for maximum yield. Soil should be well -drained with pH 4.5 to 5.5.

source: FIDA, photo from canjordana.com, bicol.da.gov.ph, icajapan.org

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