New innovations in 'Queen' pineapple production in South Africa
Pineapple cultivation in South Africa has been growing to an industry where 95% of the local fresh market is supplied by the Queen pineapple growers. Increasing production costs and relatively low consumer consumption (less than 1.6 kg fruit capita‑1 year‑1) have forced the farmers to farm smarter and maximize production inputs. Close collaboration with pineapple researchers has led to improved as well as new practices. The collaboration involved the diagnostic service project of the Hluhluwe Research Station, the bi-annual block competition amongst farmers and the pineapple growers study group. The diagnostic services offered by the Hluhluwe Research Station is an initiative to improve Queen pineapple production by identifying problem areas. Results of the service are used to understand the population dynamics of the pests subjected to the cultivation practices applied by each grower. Nematodes, and in particular the lesion nematode (Pratylenchus brachyurus), and mealybug (Dismycoccus brevipes) are considered major pests in Queen pineapple production. The effect of the factors influencing pest control strategies are evaluated for each farmer and control strategies are optimized. The most important aim of the bi-annual block competition is to stimulate innovation by exploring new concepts on a specific aspect of cultivation. These innovative ideas are then refined in a research project or certain research aspects will be tested in a project and can then be optimized in a block competition. By multiplying specific trial concepts on the farms of the study group members, results can be compared and the influence of factors such as soil type, crop history and topography can be established in a relatively short period.
Rabie, E.C. and Mbatha, B.W. (2019). New innovations in 'Queen' pineapple production in South Africa. Acta Hortic. 1239, 9-14
block competition, diagnostic services, mealybug, nematodes, study group