I started pineapple farming in 2008 with 250 plants and not knowing anything about pineapples. The land I am farming belongs to my wife’s family. It is located up on the mountain, about 1,000 feet above sea level, and just below Mt.Tapochao (highest mountain in Saipan CNMI). The farmland is too windy during the day and cold at night. It has a land area of 85,000 square meters on flat surface with a 2-5 % slope. In 1994, I started farming varieties of vegetables such as corn, cucumbers, string beans, bell peppers and many more. Due to strong winds for the plants, I could not harvest 80% of my crops, and so with the right climate and environment that I farm in, I developed an idea to farm pineapples.
It is usually thought that pineapples originated in Hawaii; however, pineapple trees originated from both South America and the Caribbean. It may also be considered to be a plant, due tohow it grows on the ground. Pineapples were first introduced to Spain by Christopher Columbus in 1493, which leads us to the idea that pineapples were brought to the Northern Mariana Islands during the Spanish period in 1521 on Guam. The three varieties of pineapples that are grown in the Northern Mariana Islands today are Red Spanish, known as “local pina,” Queens, known as “pinan Aleman” and the Smooth Cayenne known as “pinan Hawaii.” Although the weather and environment is suitable to expand the production of pineapple in the CNMI, local pineapple is scarce due to short supply of produce, competition of “high in quality” and“low in price” imported fruits, common pests, and the lack of data to cultivate it. To produce sufficient pineapples, plants should be provided with applicable methods and maintenance.
As a novice in pineapple farming, I searched for more information about pineapple production. My intentions are to acquire quality plant materials, practice conservation in farmland and to educate the community of how we may increase and sustain the product in the CNMI. With the improved knowledge of farmers and non-farmers in growing pineapples, we will no longer depend on imported fruits and begin to export our own grown fruits. Part of the conservation practices includes crop rotation, cover crop, mulching, pest management, nutrients management, micro irrigation, contour farming and intercropping system. By implementing these techniques, we will have a vast growth of pineapples in the CNMI. With the help of Northern Marianas CREES Program, I was able to receive assistance from the Western SARE (Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education) for funding the necessities for this research.
Propagation method uses three main types of planting materials, such as the crown, sucker and slip, which are taken from the mother plant. These shoots develop upon flowering and fruiting. A plant usually produces one crown, three to seven slips and zero to three suckers. Cutting the crown into four pieces or quarter crown will produce more pineapple plantlets. This is the only way to multiply pineapple plantlets and seedlings within a year.
Another factor in farming which benefited my production is crop rotation. My pineapples grow better when I rotate my plants after harvest. This method involves planting on a tilt grass. I plant a column of pineapple in a tilt land area, next to a tilt grass area, followed by another column of pineapple plants. Trimming the column of grass helps bring the nutrients back to the soil. After harvesting the pineapple, I remove the plant and grow the grass back. Then I tilt the grass area and plant the pineapple.
Farmers and non-farmers were amazed to the facts and information I provided them, such as using harvested crops to reproduce their source of seedlings rather than buying seedlings in supermarkets. Spectators were astounded to the huge amount of pineapples grown and harvested in the farmland compared to previous years. The following are results of my annual production of pineapples.
Mother plants produces:
1 crown, 7 slips and 3 suckers
150 Spanish Red plants (2008)
150 pcs. Crown
7pcs. Slips x by 150 pcs.=1050 pcs.
3 suckers x 150pcs=450 pcs.
Total 1650 pcs per year
100 Queens pineapple plants (2008)
100 pcs crowns
7 pcs slips x 100 pcs = 700 pcs
3 suckers x 100 pcs = 300 pcs.
Total 1100 pcs per year
Grand Total: 2,750 pcs pineapple plants
Quarter-crown produces 8 pcs of pineapple plantlets
1 crown =8 pcs of plantlets
150 x 8 = 1200
100 x 8 = 800
Total of 2000 plantlets in a year x 2,750 = 4,750 pineapple plants in a year
4,750 pcs x 3 years = 14,250 pcs (2008 to 2011) in 3 years to grow
Weights of two varieties pineapple:
Spanish Red harvested fruits 4 to 8 lbs.
6 lbs. x 1650 pcs = 9,900 lbs.
Queens pineapple harvested fruits 2 to 5 lbs.
4 lbs. x 1100 pcs = 4,400 pcs
Total lbs in a year 14,300 lbs. x 3 year = 42,900 lbs
.90 to 1.25 per lb.
14,300 lbs x .90 = $12,870 in a year
42,900 x .90 = 38,610 in 3 years
Year 2012, 14,250 pcs pineapple harvested
14,250 pcs x 4 lbs minimum = 28,500 lbs. x .90 = $25,650
$25,650 annual income
Educational & Outreach Activities
We educated the community and public school students about the project by doing field tours. NMC-CREES also attended and videotaped the events that took place in the farmland. (see http://vimeo.com/25337603.) Marianas Variety Newspaper under “Green Tips” column had also promoted the pineapple farmland dated on May 25, 2012. The importance of field tour is for spectators to get a better knowledge of conservation practices on farmland. If projects such as Pineapple Production expand the community’s interest, agriculture methods may someday be a dependable source of income in the CNMI.
I increased my production of pineapples from 250 to 15,000 pieces of plants beginning year 2008 to May 2011. I was pleased that the public was interested about production of pineapples and attended field tours in our farmland, and at times public schools requested to visit and study the produce of the farmland. Spectators participated in the field tour by sharing their personal concern of nourishing pineapple plants and collecting plantlets or seedlings.
I strongly recommend doing a soil analysis before you start farming your land. Soil analysis determines the nutrient supplying power of the soil and evaluates their availability. It diagnoses plant nutrient needs based on the analysis. Based on my findings that when my pineapple plants are properly nourished, it attained normal growth and reached maturity and readiness to flower in ten months. The effects of nutrients on pineapple have been well established. Nitrogen promotes leaf growth, increases leaf number and enhances stem enlargement.