DragonFruit Growing, Different Method

Discussion in 'Fruit & Vegetable Growing' started by ClissAT, Jan 4, 2017.

  1. ClissAT

    ClissAT Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    I thought it best to start a new thread about growing dragon fruit in this different way.

    I saw a few seconds of this on a TV show ages ago & wasn't quite sure what I had seen.

    Then Berkeloid made this post with the link to google photos & there is was again.

    http://www.selfsufficientculture.com/threads/how-much-of-a-dragonfruit-is-edible.1006/#post-10849

    https://www.google.com.au/search?q=...DCRzyM:;O8BxtXkiKGYaMM:&imgrc=nainukT-DCRzyM:

    It seems like they cut off the segments that have produced a fruit, bundle them all together & stuff them in a clay pot maybe with some growing media in to keep the segments growing while the fruit develops & matures.

    dragon fruit farming5.jpg

    When you look closely at the farm photos like these on this google page & this image below,
    https://www.google.com.au/search?q=dragonfruit+farm&tbm=isch#imgrc=VPgc6KKZKzjAsM:

    dragon fruit farming 1000x.jpg


    It looks like they then take that bundle of segments & stake them around a strong post.

    dragon fruit farming 2.jpg

    This gives me a completely new ideal about growing dragon fruit.
    We normally tend to plant one or maybe 2 segments whereas it seems the way to go is to plant a heap all around the post.

    Also I guess the more the fruit bearing segments are harvested the more branches the plants produce for next season.

    dragon fruit farming3 1000x.jpg


    Makes sense really.

    I also saw photos where they have put the plants under lights to force even more fruit.
     
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  2. carrie

    carrie Member Premium Member GOLD

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    If an urban gardener with limited space, grow dragon fruit in pot, which is fairly easy to grow and adapts itself well in containers. To save frost you can move over winter it if in pot. The draining soil that is sandy is better. A mixture in garden would be the best choice. Water it moderately and that too only when soil dries up completeely since it is a cactus. Aged manure or compost time to time, but not needed in winter if in colder cllimate.
     
  3. Letsgokate

    Letsgokate Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Sounds interesting and worth researching more. I just bought a dragon fruit, the actual fruit from Coles yesterday for $4.50 to try, never had one before.
     
  4. ClissAT

    ClissAT Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Letsgo, make sure you savour the scent before eating the fruit.
    I find it such an intriguing scent because it is quite a different fragrance to what we 'westerners' would usually experience in our daily life.

    Did you get a white flesh or red flesh fruit?
     
  5. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    This is a really good idea for a thread @ClissAT (love the title too - as it's good for SEO) we can add to the list of growing methods over time.

    The supermarket dragon fruit aren't always good - I've had some really tasteless watery specimens that were no way as nice as our homegrown ones so just keep that in mind if you are not impressed by the one you purchased.

    I have one growing down from a pot I placed on a stump and it's doing well!
    dragon fruit pitaya in pot hanging down on stump.jpg
     
  6. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    6 months later and it has about a dozen fruit forming...
    yellow dragon fruit in a pot with fruit.jpg
     
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  7. Letsgokate

    Letsgokate Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Wow it's doing well. I have several small plants now I have to work out the best way to grow them, what method, and where to put them.
     
  8. ClissAT

    ClissAT Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    A few months ago I saw this youtube video about tip pruning dragon fruit plant segments to help promote flowering.
    I thought, why not give it a go as I have nothing to loose. Mine are growing vigorously but no flowers.
    So I did several vines & left a few others unpruned for comparison.
    Here is the video.



    A few days ago I noted lots of flowers on several vines.

    It could be simply coincidental because we have had all this very hot & humid weather so you would expect DF to be flowering its head off anyway.
    However there are far fewer flowers on the non tip pruned vines.

    The other thing to note is that it took my vines around 10wks to begin flowering which might be due to not getting enough water over the dry months. The other thing that happened almost straight after I tip pruned the vines was a mass of new shoots appeared & now if I don't keep those under control my vines will be massive & dense which I don't want.

    In the video this guy states that flowering will begin quite quickly but his are irrigated. My vines didn't get water through all these dry months so it has taken a lot longer.

    Another thing to think about is that I think there is some interaction between cactus in general & the February (or rather the end of summer) full moon anyway. So in the northern hemisphere it would be the September full moon I think.

    I would say all my flowers will come out around the same night & I expect that to be the full moon in 10days time.
     
  9. OskarDoLittle

    OskarDoLittle Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Hmmm, interesting clip. Doesn't look large enough to be commercial (and it would be weird a commercial grower disappearing for 2 weeks during flowering season) but man, you'd have to really LOVE dragon fruit to have that many cacti!! My seedlings are finally starting to fatten up into something that might resemble a dragon fruit "tree" one day!
     
  10. ClissAT

    ClissAT Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    He breeds & propagates for commercial growers as well as supplying a local market himself.
    In the others of his videos which you see in the right hand column, you get to see the total size of his setup.
    Until I saw his videos I never realized there were as many as 1oo varieties of DF that grow in all types of climates.
    Some he grows in shade houses, while others must be grown in full sun, some fruit at different times & then there are the various colours, shapes & sizes of fruit.
     
  11. Bushtuckaman

    Bushtuckaman Member Premium Member

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    I’m glad I found this forum, some very useful info here, thanks! This is my first post on this website and I was hope the folk here be able to give me some advice please!?

    I have recently taken over the management of a plantation in Thailand that has a small block of DF planted. There are around 200 mature plants that I’ve been told haven’t produced a fruit in the last 1-2 years. Historically I’m told they produced an estimated 300-600 fruit every 2 week. Im told they were watered once a week but this may be a fabrication of the truth lol. Im told no fertiliser is being applied, and it evident no selective pruning or tipping had occurred except what looks like hacking off of some of the longer hanging branches (not good) The soil here is sandy and free draining, weather hot, 20-35 degrees C

    I have had the weed at the base removed. I’ve increased (or maybe started) the watering regime, and also plan to apply 1.1.1 NPK fertiliser and or some diluted chicken manure tea (small amount of fresh chicken manure diluted in water)

    The crowns of these plants are very dense due to lack of pruning. Some plants supports have collapsed, I will decapitate these and tie to new supports. I’m told the height of fruiting season here is in the next few months in April, it is 28th Feb now. What would be the best approach do you think? Tipping first, then aggressive pruning after the fruiting season, or a more aggressive pruning approach now?

    I’m not sure if the reason for the lack of flowers over the last few years has been due to not enough water, lack of any fertilizer or lack of selective pruning. Maybe all of the above is the reason. I would like to try to get some yield asap. Any advice would be most welcome from the great and the good here. I will take some pics and try to upload later
    Cheers
    John :)
     
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  12. ClissAT

    ClissAT Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Hi John & welcome to our forum.
    I'm glad you found some useful info here. We aim to please! as the saying goes! :D

    Although none of us here are 'DF farmers' & therefore none are 'experts' in that field, we do like the fruit & try to grow healthy vines as best we can in our less than perfect climate. Emulating what works in the counties where the fruit is endemic is a good way for us to attempt to grow our own.

    I think you are on the right track with your approach of prune lightly & try to build health to get some yield this season.
    Although I know of others who would council against this approach as it will cost money in wages & inputs for not a lot of return. That is the absolute commercial method there, where every fruit has to yield as much income as possible. So if you have decreased fruiting but high inputs (as you will this year) then you ratio will be way off.

    But I personally feel it is better to have some yield as it gets your farm & fruit known again in the district which I'm sure in the Thai culture & market system is just as important.

    Can I add here that a good way to promote plant health is foliar fertilization & maybe you can add liquid fertilizer into the irrigation system as well as just watering. Little & often would be far better for those plants now than a lot in one application.

    Obviously the farm has been allowed to run down. I think a huge input of composted material of some type is needed to restore health to you vines. be a little careful of chicken manure as it is very high nitrogen which will prevent flowering. Potash ((K) potassium) is what you need more of to prompt flowering & fruit set.

    A light prune to let in air & light & get rid of the old wood will be hugely beneficial. DF flower & set fruit on one year old segments anyway so the old need to be cut out but not all plants decapitated until after peak season.

    I'm still learning about them. Tropical & jungle fruits have a very different genetic fruiting habit to the northern hemisphere fruits I was taught about many years ago, before DF was even known to the western world.

    However the basic premise is that any plant that fruits on new or one year old wood needs to have the oldest wood removed annually & the soil health topped up every year to get a good crop. The addition of water if there has been no good rain is always beneficial.

    Also it would pay to have a good look at each plant to check for disease & pests. There could be some mite, beetle or fungus that is eating its way through the newer segments & setting the fruiting back too. Or something eating the flowers or ants getting into the flower end of the fruit & ruining it.

    I'll be keen to see photos as they will tell a better story than a 1000 words.;)
     
  13. Bushtuckaman

    Bushtuckaman Member Premium Member

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  14. Bushtuckaman

    Bushtuckaman Member Premium Member

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    Thankyou very much for the extensive reply ClissAT! The pictures above were taken 2 weeks ago. There certainly is a fair bit of work to get these plants back in order, in pruning alone.

    As you can see there is a lot of old material on the plants and there branches haven’t been allowed to grow very low before being cut, which hasn’t helped them I think. The staff here seem to be untrained at pruning so I guess I’m going to have to learn it myself and then try and train them up. They clearly need to allow longer branches to form, but more thinning of older branches to reduce density at the crown.

    Some of the supports that hold the DF up have also collapsed. Here in the Far East they tend to uses a concrete post with a steel rebar cross welded flat on top, with a motor bike on top of that for the plant to grow through. Due to the cross beam supports being made of wood at this farm which has rotted and snapped, some tires and plants have collapsed down the posts. Ultimately all these supports are going to need replacing with 8 or 10mm rebar crosses and new motorbike tires. The weight of the plants is going to meant decapitation will be necessary to rectify these situations.

    I didn’t mention before but these are the red flesh variety of plant. There is currently the grand total of three flower buds in the whole 190-200 plant block lol. 2 of those buds are on 1 branch of a single plant, which when I looked earlier seemed like it would flower tonight. I’m rather excited to see if it’s opened overnight. If the fruit sets in this one I will be eating the first fruit....for research purposes you understand ;-)

    Unfortunately no irrigation system it present except one man and a hose pipe. So at some point I’m thinking of installing an irrigation system. I guess a tank fed sprinkler system would be more desirable than a drip system as it will allow folilar feeding as you suggest.

    Have some sacks of commercial fertiliser onsite which im going to put a little around the plants. I’ve read that they also like higher P numbers as well as K in there mix along with Mg (Epsom’s salts). Thankfully there are 15 cows on the farm, which previously had free rein over the whole 100 hectres, but today I got them fenced into a smaller area so manure collection can begin. That will be a valuable resources for the DF in the future. Also random chickens are wandering everywhere which need enclosing to collect manure.

    Will be interested in what you think of those pics I posted. I saw my first snake today! It moved so damn quick I’d could get a pic!
    Cheers
    John
     
  15. ClissAT

    ClissAT Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Well, from the photos your vines seem healthy enough considering they have been neglected. They just need a judicious pruning & a big heaps of K.

    I see there is some form of pest or fungal attack in the older stems of some plants.
    In Australia in the mid 1920's the governement introduced moth called catoblastus from South America that was put to work to kill a major infestation of cactus. It was very successful at destroying the prickly pear but now is also very good at killing any ornamental or farmed cactus if we don't spray for it.
    The damage I see in the photos reminds me of the damage the cactoblastus moth & its grub offspring does to our cactus plants.
    So check to see what pest is causing the damage you have in your plantation. It could be fungal also. But it doesn't seem to be causing enough damage to limit flowering as the new growth is unaffected. But it could be causing damage to the aerial roots.

    I suspect lack of flowers is due to lack of K & possibly P fertilizer mostly. Best applied foliar for quick results.

    A pressurized 20lt backpack or 100lt tank on a quad bike or 200lt on a small trailer or 1000lt IBC tank pulled behind a tractor is the best way to apply foliar ferts large scale (or pest spraying as well) when you don't have an irrigation system. Actually you might find it more economical to use that method long term rather than go down the track of the built-in irrigation system which is a huge cost impost on a small business.

    One thing to note with DF is they will separate themselves from the ground once they think their aerial roots can support them. Genetically they grow up trees that then die & the rotting wood provided the sustenance for the vine until its roots again grow to the ground. For farmed plants this is fine as long as the aerial roots can find enough nutrition. This is why wooden posts with drippers are used. The roots can dig into the wet wood & run down to get food from the soil as needed. Check your root systems to be sure they have good connection with the ground otherwise the whole plants may be starved.

    This is why foliar fertilization will help enormously.

    Sometimes it is better to let the fertilizing animals run free in your crops (if they don't do damage) as they will cover the whole farm & leave a little bit of fertilizer everywhere they go. As soon as you contain them to a small area you have to feed them because they eat out their space quickly & you have health issues due to confinement.
    Soil prefers fertilizer to be little & often also which keeps the soil microbes or bio-life happily ticking over. The bio-life will deal with the manure & keep the soil healthy. The beneficial fungus that lives in the ground will be happy to turn that manure into food for you plants on a slow release basis.

    The ground only needs a little bit & often rather than what we as humans prefer to do which is a lot & occasionally.

    I noticed in some photos the freshly slashed grass along the rows has seeded meaning the cows didn't get to it before it matured. Are there enough cows to keep all the grass down with just occasional touch up by tractor & slasher to keep the rows looking good? Some small height of grass growth (around 6-9inches) means far more insect life for the chickens to go searching for also.
     
  16. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Your plants look like they're growing nicely John (oh, and welcome to our forum) :) I doubt that a lack of irrigation is the cause of the poor fruit set or flowering.

    From my testing/observations dragon fruit do love water and will grow wildly with plenty of it but some of my best fruiting results have come from plants that have had some water stress (within reason).

    Personally, if your plantation of dragon fruit vines were fruiting well I wouldn't change anything but since they're not I would thin the plants out starting with any old cracked or damaged limbs and if you have space start some new plants with the offcuts.

    I wouldn't water them unless you see definite signs of severe heat stress or no rainfall for several weeks and see if you can induce some reaction to produce rather than just lapping up the conditions and growing like hell!

    As Clissa stated, I'm not expert either but that's my 2c anyway and I have been growing and propagating ours for at least a decade.

    Dragon fruit plants can be unpredictable and I'd like a dollar for every time I've been asked the Q why isn't my dragon fruit flowing or if it's flowering why won't the fruit develop? Often there's no simple answer...

    All the best mate!
     
  17. ClissAT

    ClissAT Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Well its just gone midnight & I have been outside pollinating DF flowers.
    Most came out tonight although a few came out on full moon night with yet a few more to open in the coming nights.

    With the light rain we had today & tonight I felt it worth the effort to hand pollinate just in case.
    Once I was finished pollinating I washed my hand & discovered the pollen is almost sticky once wet....interesting! Perhaps I needn't have bothered.

    These ginormous gorgeous voluptuous flowers never fail to fascinate me. I took some photos but cant post photos right now until I sort out my photo software from a computer glitch. I took a photo of one flower glowing against a mass backdrop of dark purple bougainvillea flowers. Once I can load the photos onto my pc I will be very keen to see that one.

    Every plant has run rampant here from the rain & many plants have merged. I am sure I have missed many DF flowers now too high, run over the top of or covered or in the middle of other vines or trees. Hopefully I will find the fruit!
     
  18. Bushtuckaman

    Bushtuckaman Member Premium Member

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    Hi ClissAT, thanks for all that info and apologies for the slow reply.


    I purchased a few sacks of fertilizer (heavy in K) a few days ago and got a few handfuls of that around each plant, and lightly watered it in, so hopefully that will help. I will look into a knapsack sprayer for the foliar application.

    I’ve noticed flowers on maybe 5-10 different plants now this week which is encouraging. I’ve yet to see one fully open yet as I don’t stay at the plantation overnight sadly. Sounds like you have some nice pictures there! I’d like to see them!


    All the plants seem to be fully attached to the ground so that doesn’t seem to be an issue. As for the grey surface scaring in the plant, this seems to be isolated to the older wood. The new growth and last year’s growth seems to be free of this damage and I can’t identify any visible pest. Hopefully the pruning of the older material will alleviate this problem.


    It’s only in the last year that a fence has been put around these DF to protect them. Previously the cows which had a free rein around the plantation were able to wander in amongst the DF this explains why some of the trellises have been knocked over. I’ve also since been told they were eating all the flowers and fruit. It seems from visual inspection that they have also been eating the branches, due to the shape of the cuts on the branches. The Thai cows seem to be difficult to contain though as they have escaped from the enclosure we build seven times. I want to keep them though for the manure. I’m thinking chickens might be good in amongst the DF as long as they don’t eat the flowers or fruit.


    It’s 30-35 degrees here now. How often do you think the DF need watering?

    Hi Mark, thanks for your input :) I just saw you post as I was about to pos this one. It seems you’ve answered my question about watering. It’s doesn’t rain for weeks on end where the plantation is at this time of year so I’m currently watering a little twice a week. I did read that during flowering season it’s best not to water very much at all

    Do you think the hard pruning should be done before or after the up coming flowering season?
    I’ve been tipping some of the longer branches as I read this also helps induce flowering

    Cheers

    John
     
  19. ClissAT

    ClissAT Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Hi again John.
    I think my flowering has been promoted by the stress the plants went through from the dry season, 3 heatwaves where the temps here got to over 40c, then the extreme wet & humidity as well as the tipping.
    In this part of the world I think DF would be seasonal so this is their season anyway so I expected flowers.
    Flowers seem to take 5wks to develop from when I first see the little knobs on the segments. However the chemical changes in the plant that promotes the change to fruiting may take many more weeks to evolve.
    There are more flowers this year than previously because my vines have only been in the ground 2yrs although I got the sacks of 100 cuttings 5yrs ago.
    I left the sacks laying under some bushes for 3yrs while the cuttings got roots & to be sure which cuttings would survive. That way I only planted the 30 ccuttings that were strongest & already rooted.
    However in your part of the world they should continue to fruit all year which is why I think the tipping came about.
    Perhaps DF need some sort of stress to flower & commercial farms need to keep them flowering so some sort of stressor needs to be applied regularly to get new flushes of flowers.
    Tipping, dry periods, unfertile periods, short daylight days may all be stressors that can be employed at various times of the year.
    Perhaps you answered the question as to why the farm didn't produce very well when you said the cows ate the flowers & fruit?
    Now with the cows fenced out of the farm, perhaps the vines will naturally come into flower regularly.

    In the other thread on DF I have posted some photos from my first season of flowering along with an explanation of the flower parts, how they work & the difference between self fertile & those that require cross polination.

    As far as fencing wild cows is concerned, Kao Lamphun are pretty close to still being wild animals so very strong fences complete with strong electric wires with a BIG kick in them are the only things that work!
    Zebu cattle or Australian cross breeds that you will find in abundance in Thailand are a little more brainy & can be trained with food to stay in or move to a particular paddock. Sugarcane or cowcane works very well. However all cattle will break out if their bellies are growling or they are bored!
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2018
  20. Bushtuckaman

    Bushtuckaman Member Premium Member

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    So I got some pruning done on these DF in the last week. Some of the rows I’m going at hard, some I’ve just tipping, others are getting combinations of different fertilizer and water amounts to see which get the best results. I gave them a small amount of 13.13.21 the week before and maybe a little more soon.


    The healthy material I’ve pruned out are getting stacked in a shaded area ready to root and plant in a previously prepared second DF area. There are around 200 concrete pipes vertically sunk into the ground (pic below) waiting for planting. I’m thinking 3-4 cuttings per post, advice welcome here.


    I will use a horizontal cross of rebar placed on top of the pipes with a motorbike tyre placed on top the rebar. This seems to be a common method used here to support DF. I was thinking 3/8 or 1/2 inch thick should be strong enough, again advice welcome. On the existing DF the wooden poles were used for the top support bars which of course have now rotten and broken. As you can see from the pic below some plants have collapsed down the posts, so decapitation will be needed to get the back in order I think. All the existing plants need to have metal bars inserted under the types to support them before they too collapse. I’m not looking forward to that job.

    One of the pics below show evidence of animal bite marks on the branches. This makes me wonder about whether there is a flowering issue at all or just a hungry cow issue. Time will tell.

    Some of the pipe/posts have been knocked over or snapped by these damn cows which I’m having much trouble containing. It’s getting to the point where the may have to go as there keep breaking though or over the fencing. As you stated Cliss, these are more wild beasts here compared to the relaxed UK cows! They’ve previously had freedom around this large palm plantation and are not taking kindly to being contained. I want to utilise there weed/grass eating ability to get the wilder areas of the plantation in better order, but sadly they are becoming more of a problem than a help. There could be a big BBQ soon if they don’t behave :)

    We had the first rain here in weeks last weekend. Hoping for more soon to fill up the irrigation ponds.
    I hope you guys are getting some flowers/fruit around now.

    Pics below. Will keep you updated
     

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