Papaya greenhouse cultivation in south-east Spain
Spain is the leading producer of tropical fruit crops in Europe. Within Spain, papaya cultivation is concentrated in the Canary Islands, where 350 ha are planted and 16,000 t produced annually. Recently, papaya has also been introduced into the south-east of Spain. More than 100 ha of papaya orchards under protected cultivation have now planted in south-east Spain. This region has a subtropical, semiarid, Mediterranean climate with a hot and dry summer and a mild winter, with high temperatures in summer (above 40°C) and low ones in winter (sometimes below 10°C) being the main climate challenges. Papaya cultivation in south-east Spain takes place very often in low-technology parral greenhouses, 3.5-4 m tall, covered with plastic and only provided with natural ventilation. In order to improve the climate inside greenhouses, different systems of nebulization and heating are being evaluated. Intenzza, a Formosa hybrid from Mexico, is so far the most planted cultivar. Other cultivars under cultivation are Siluet, Sweet Sense, Tainung, BH-65 and Caballero. Papaya multiplication is by seed, but the use of molecular markers to determine papaya sex allows rapid selection of hermaphrodite plants in the nursery. This technique makes crop management easier. Plant density ranges from 1600 to 2700 plants ha‑1, transplanted more frequently in spring (March-April), although transplanting at other times of year is also possible. Harvest begins 7 months after transplanting. The yield reaches 200 t ha‑1 and shows two peaks, one after winter and the other after summer. The main pest so far observed is the red mite, while the most important diseases are powdery mildew and botrytis. There is no record of Papaya ring spot virus (PRSV) incidence in our fields. Given the higher cost of production of papaya in Spain, we believe that the key for the successful introduction of Spanish papaya in European markets is to allow fruit ripening on the tree, and to produce sweet fruits of excellent quality.
Hueso, J.J., Salinas, I., Pinillos, V. and Cuevas, J. (2019). Papaya greenhouse cultivation in south-east Spain. Acta Hortic. 1250, 1-6
Carica papaya, protected cultivation, varieties, crop management