Bulkley-Newman Printing Co.
BULLETIN No. 125 SEPTEMBER, 1951
PHILLIPS K. PLATES
STATE OF FLORIDA
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
NATHAN 'IAYO, Commissioner
BULLETIN No. 125
Field of Red Spanish pineapples on Indian River Ridge in "horse and buggy days"-M. E. Card place about 1905. Temperatures
near the Indian River average S to 5 degrees cooler by day and warnner by night than temperatures a mile or so inland. It is
suggested that salty spray from Indian River provided needed magnesium. Photo courtesy of Fred Alixpauw
PINEAPPLE ABC's 3
Can Pineapples Be Made to Pay in Florida?
A person who can do his own work and is located so that he can
sell direct to tourists should find a small "patch" of pineapples an
interesting and profitable hobby if he has suitable land and tries
to produce fruit only for those seasons when fruit can be relied
on to be sweet and good.
A warm location is essential. The land must be free of nema-
todes and must not be loaded with phosphoric acid from previous
The following facts will interest one who contemplates a com-
Most of the fresh pineapples shipped into the United States
each year come from Cuba. There is a sharp drop in shipments
in June, and by the end of June about 90% of the shipments have
It appears that the imports of fresh pineapples during the past
five years have been little different than the totals for the years
1908-1912. Most of this fruit is picked green for the long trip to
market. Authorities claim that pineapples picked green have much
less sugar and flavor than those ripened on the plant. This is gen-
erally true and gives a great advantage to the Florida grower. (How-
ever, the writer's experience indicates that Sugar Loaf, Pernambuco,
Queen and Abakka fruit can be produced so that picked when
yellowish at the base only, they will, upon ripening, be as sweet
and well-flavored as those ripened on the plant. See page 41.)
The unit value of the imports of fresh pineapples has changed
little since 1950 but the importation from Hawaii has increased
from 636,000 to an estimated 10,000,000 pounds for 1955, and the
value from 6.9c to nearly 10c per pound. Evidently Hawaii has
been shipping a good product.
Florida can grow to perfection almost any of the more delicious
varieties of pineapples. The writer recommends that Florida growers
produce superior varieties in the seasons in which they can be
counted on to be excellent. Even in Hawaii pineapples are not
naturally as sweet in winter as in summer.
The Pineapple ..............--..-- ..........--. -- --.....-.. -........ 6
Propagation- Terminology ....-............................... ......... ....... -. 6
Soil and Location ._ ...........-_. ...-.-.. 9
Light and Temperature Problems .......... ... ...-- 10
Protection from Cold and Heat _.-. -.. .-.-..-..........-- .. 13
Australian Pine Trees for Frost Protection: An Evaluation ...... 15
Protection from Sunburn --------.... ...- .17
Preparation of Land _...........------ ............. 18
"Lands" ... --- 18
Factors Affecting Spacing _. ....... .... ..........-.- 18
Selection .. ______.. --- 19
Cost and Sources of Plants ---.......-...----......-.....---------..-- 21
Protective Clothing ...-.--- 22
Preparation of Plants ......_ -- -. ---------- 22
Packing Plants for Shipping ....- -. .......-. .... 23
Planting ........ ------------- 2
Fertilizing Pineapples ._. ........-.-- ........ -..-... ..-..------------- 24
Organic Versus Inorganic Fertilizer .---- ...-........--- 24
Queensland Formula ...._.- -.-.. -.._ ............. 25
Puerto Rican Formula _._........~-..... .. ............... ...... 26
In Hawaii .............. 2.....--_.........---- ...-. 26
Formula Suggested for Small Florida Planting ...... ... .....-..-- ..- 27
Mixing Fertilizer ......- .-......--------- ----...--------- 27
Applying Fertilizer -...---..- ........-- --------....... -. 27
Observations on Some Fertilizer Materials ........ ..-...................----- 28
Deficiency Symptoms ..-... ..-- ..-.-.......------- ....... 29
Symptoms of Excesses ...0...... ..... .... ----- .. .........-------- -- ------.... 30
Timing Applications .--........... --------------. -... .... 30
Advanced Lesson ...-..--. ...---.-....-------..------------ -.. 30
Cultivation .. .2 .............. ---.----..-. ----------- ----------- 32
Chemical Weed Control _.-..........----. --.----------... ------- .33
Pre-emergence Sprays ..................--.-----.-.----- ------ 34
PCP-Oil Contact Sprays .............................------.----------------.. 34
"CM U" ...................................... .... ........................ .-.. .....----- --.-----... 35
Dalapon ....-... --... .-.............- --- -----------..------ 36
Paper Mulch ....... .-....-..... --.. ..... ...... .---- 86
Maintaining a Field ............. --- ..-..- ....._...... .................... 37
Spreading the Harvest ..- .........- .-.....-... ..............---.----------- ---- 38
Inducing Bloom-"Smoking" .............................. ------------ 38
Hormone Magic .....--......--.............-.---------.- 39
To Make Fruit Sweeter .......-................--- --_---------..---- --- --... 41
General Suggestions for Sweetness ... -... ............---..........--- 41
Harvesting _.................------- -------....--.------------------ 42
Grading ... ..............-.. ....... ..-------------------------------------- ------ 44
Packing ---.... ...........--------------.----------------------------------------- 44
Marketing Suggestions .............. ---..---.. --...--.............-----. -- 45
Refrigeration ................ .................. 46
Yields ..................-............-----.--..---- -----..---------------- ... 47
Varieties .. ............ .... ..----- ....-----.- --. ..---.--------------------------.----. 47
Disease, Enemies, Etc. ...................... ... ...... 56
Observations on Selecting a Pineapple in the Market --....--......... ................. 63
General Properties of the Pineapple .... ... ........... .......... .. ........... ..... 63
Preparing for Eating ...- --...---- ...................... ..-..-.. 64
History of Pineapples in Florida --....-.... ........ ........................_.. 66
Bibliography ... ... .... ............. ... _.. ... ... .. ....... ... ........... 70
Without the generous assistance of the following, a satisfactory
revision of this bulletin would have been impossible. Thanks are due
to Dr. H. S. Wolfe, Professor of Horticulture, University of Florida,
for digging up the patent numbers; to Dr. Philip J. Westgate, Central
Florida Experiment Station, Sanford, and to Dr. Herbert Spencer,
U. S. D. A. Bureau of Entomology, Orlando, for literature; to Mr.
O. R. Winchester and Mr. James A. Winchester of Flatwoods Planta-
tion, Boynton, Mr. J. E. Abbott of Davotte Farms, Delray, and Dr.
J. R. King, Indian River Field Laboratory, Ft. Pierce, for counsel;
to Charles D. Kime, County Agent, Ft. Pierce, and Mr. D. S. Rade-
baugh, Sebring, for constant counsel; to Mr. Harold J. Emminger,
Lake Placid, for running experiments; to Mr. Robert G. Miller of
Davison Chemical, for running tests, and Mr. Wallace T. Long of
Superior Fertilizer for reading the manuscript on fertilization; to
the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Stock, for valuable
literature; to Dr. George Samuels, Agronomist, U. of P. R. Agricul-
tural Experiment Station, Rio Piedras, for painstaking answers to
several inquiries; and to Dr. D. O. Wolfenbarger, Subtropical Ex-
periment Station, Homestead, for constant counsel and for reading
the manuscript. The mistakes and shortcomings are my own.
PHILLPS K. PLATTS
Ft. Pierce, Florida, 1956
One day during the Spanish-American War a troop train stopped
a few miles south of Ft. Pierce and soon a number of soldiers were
out in a field pulling up pineapple plants, looking for fruit-having
the idea which many visitors still cling to, that the fruit grows under-
ground. Other visitors expect to see pineapples growing like cones
on stately pine trees, and others feel insulted if one tries to tell them
that pineapples do not grow on palm trees.
But perhaps the truth is as strange as the fiction. Belonging to
the family Bromeliaceae, of which Spanish moss and the air plant
common in south Florida are members, the plant has root buds in
the axils of the leaves so that it can assimilate plant food lodged
there without its ever reaching the ground-and the leaves are
admirably suited to collecting dews and light showers so that there
is commonly some water in these reservoirs at their bases. A pine-
apple plant whose stem was dead at the ground was observed to
send down new shiny roots from the living upper part, (stimulated
by an application of copper). The leaf of the pineapple plant is
adapted to collecting, also to conserving moisture. The fibrous stem
acts as a reservoir for stored food for the plant. This characteristic
is illustrated by the fact that most of twelve McGregor suckers,
selected as "virgin" in Australia, had fruit stalks several inches long
upon arrival in Florida six weeks later.
The pineapple plant blooms by shooting up a flower stalk that
is an extension of the main stem. Each "eye" of the flower head
sends out a flower and is capable of producing seeds but only wild
varieties produce seeds regularly. Sometimes a seed producing
strain occurs but this is undesirable. Pineapple seeds resemble
apple seeds somewhat.
Since seedling pineapple plants do not "come true" and it is
said to take from ten to twelve years for a seedling to bear naturally
(the period can now be shortened considerably), this method of
propagation has no value except in the search for new varieties. But
as most chance seedlings develop freaks, present efforts in this direc-
tion seem to be confined to crossing varieties in the attempt to secure
combinations of good qualities (Johnson).
Plants or shoots that come out on the pineapple plant are named
according to the place from which they emerge, and vary somewhat
in nature (see photograph). The plant that comes on top of the
PINEAPPLE ABC's 7
fruit is called the "CROWN", and because of it the pineapple is
called the king of fruits. Sometimes there are two or more crowns
almost equal in size. These are called "multiple crowns". Some-
times there are so many crowns as to make a "rosette". In varieties
that normally have a single crown the cause of multiple crowns is
not known-it does not appear to be hereditary.
In the illustration a small shoot appears from the top of the fruit
along side the larger crown. This is called a "CROWN SLIP". The
shoot growing out of the lower part of the fruit is called a "BASAL
SLIP". Both crown slips and basal slips are undesirable, hereditary
Shoots emerging along the fruit stalk are called "SLIPS" and are,
like the crown and suckers, desirable planting material. Usually
there is a roundish fruitlet at the base of each slip, at any rate this
base is blunt.
"SUCKERS", which emerge from the plant stem between the
ground and the fruit stalk, are usually more pointed at the base where
they join the stem of the old plant.
"RATOONS" emerge from underground. Typical ratoons differ
in pattern from suckers having a length of neck or stem covered
with short leaves, all of about the same length. There is confusion
in the use of this word as the term "first ratoon crop" is applied to the
normal second crop on a new field-which is in fact mostly a sucker
crop. The sucker which is highest on the plant grows fastest so
that the ratoon rarely produces fruit before what is called the "sec-
ond ratoon crop". If ratoons are to be planted the stem part should
be cut off since it does not root readily.
Slips, crowns and suckers of the same size and weight are likely
to produce a natural crop in about the same time, planted in August
they should come in at the appropriate season for that variety the
second summer after planting. Larger suckers should produce
fruit the first summer after planting. If suckers are too mature they
are likely to bloom shortly after planting. As the fruit from such
bloom would be very small it is usually best to break it off to hasten
suckering. A crop that takes nearly two years in the making will
normally have the largest fruit, the most and strongest slips.
Suckers that remain on the old plant, bear fruit and then begin
to produce suckers themselves seem to be the principal planting
material for Natal Queens in South Africa, where they are called
"STUMPS". The old plant itself is often called a "stump". These
8 PINEAPPLE ABC's
Basic Parts of a Pineapple Plant
stems, when not too old, have buds that can be made to sprout.
They sprout if left on top of the ground where moisture and shade
are favorable, and when partly buried, some will rot but others
will send out suckers, responding best in spring or summer
To get the most plants from these old stems, one method is to
cut in half inch discs, soak in 5% potassium permnanganate solution,
and plant in sand. Another method recently reported by Mr. Scott
U. Stambaugh* is to cut into one inch discs and start in peat moss.
WARNING: in using planting material that has been in contact
with the ground in the old field, one should be sure he is not carrying
nematodes or other soil diseases. It is best to cut off and discard all
parts that had contact with the ground, then dip in Systox.
On March 22, 1944 the writer planted 560 selected Natal Queen
suckers. A heavy rain April 3rd gave them a quick start. "Smoking"
produced 545 fruit, the last of which appeared mature enough to
pick on December 12 to avoid a threatened frost. Fruit averaged
about 1% pounds, which is fair for Natal Queens. There was a
tendency for cores to be large as a result of the rate of growth per-
haps. Very few fruit were too small to market. (See illustration.)
Crowns make excellent planting material, having larger butts
than slips. So one who eats a fresh pineapple that suits his taste
has, in the crown, highly selected material with which to start raising
Soil and Location
Pineapples have been grown on most types of soil found in Florida
except where soil is too alkaline due to shell or marl. Well drained
acid soils are preferred. Some research indicates that the lower
the pH down to about 4, the heavier the crop of fruit and plants.
They seem to tolerate alkaline conditions better when the soil is
porous. Mulches, sulphur and frequent applications of sulfate of
ammonia have helped correct alkaline conditions. A pH of 3 may
be found too low for the Red Spanish but probably not for the Abakka.
To avoid weeds and soil infections new land is to be preferred.
When Florida was shipping around a million crates of pineapples
a year around 1910, most of them were grown on the sandy spruce
pine and hickory scrub ridge along the Indian River. Much of this
When title of authorities, such as "Mr." or "Dr." are given, the information
was conveyed personally-where no title is given, see Bibliography.
10 PINEAPPLE ABC's
ridge was protected on the west by "The Savanna," a shallow, river-
shaped lagoon paralleling the Indian River. Best results were gen-
erally obtained where yellow sand appeared at or near the surface.
Sandy hammock soils on the same ridge were also planted. In gen-
eral these soils contained around 97'%: pure sand and from 0.18
to 1.21% humus. They usually contained enough sodium and iron
and frequently calcium hut traces only of other plant foods. The
Red Spanish was the predominant variety on the ridge.
For growing pineapples a site should be chosen where overflow
will not occur. If the soil tends to "water-log", "lands" should be
narrow and high with deep waterfurrows. Sometimes flood condi-
tions will do little apparent damage, again such conditions cause
disease of the roots.
Light and Temperature Problems
Much sunshine my cause a fruit to become so yellow that it appears
to be ripe when it is not-probably a protective device, as the lighter
color will reflect more of the heat. In August a "steak thermometer"
was taken from under a bin in the packing sled, where it registered
88 degrees F. and thrust into a badly sun-scalded fruit that was
lying on its side. The temperature inside the fruit was 120 degrees F.
Whenever the day's temperature reaches 90 degrees sunburn may
be expected where fruit is leaning or the breeze is shut off from
fruit not shaded on the west. Short of scalding, heat will stunt one
side of fruit, and it appears to cause the cores of some varieties to
crack horizontally. (When this happens the part of the fruit above
the crack colors prematurely.) Heat damage is worse in dry weather.
Heat damage will be less in breezy locations, although windy
conditions may reduce yield. Where trees give partial shade, Clark
recommends trimming them up 15 feet to promote circulation of air.
Heat, wet weather and fertilizer in late August and September
may cause fruit ripening then to be insipid; sometimes puffy.
Planting should be finished while the soil is warm. English
hot-house gardeners who vied with one another to produce the largest
pineapples had a rule that the temperature of the soil around the roots
should not go below 70 degrees. However, established plants may re-
spond well to applications of fertilizer with sulfate of ammonia or urea,
even with the temperature of the top 3 inches of soil well down in
the 60's. After long periods of temperatures around freezing, plants
may become red and be slow to resume growth with warm weather.
PINEAPPLE ABC's 11
Fruit ripening in cool weather does not naturally have the sweet-
ness and flavor of that ripening in warm weather, the colder the
weather the sourer the fruit. Temperatures of 45 degrees may not
only ruin the flavor of fruit nearly ripe but cause "black heart", an
interior breakdown accompanied by discoloration varying from a
This crop was producing in one season. 560 selected large Natal Queen suckers
were planted March 22, 1944, "smoked" July 14-as rain followed immediately
the treatment was repeated July 19. 545 fruit were produced, averaging about
1%. pounds, fair size for this variety. This picture was taken December 10, 1944.
All fruit remaining on December 12 was considered mature enough to be picked
that date in order to avoid danger from a predicted frost.
few spots at first to browning of the whole interior. A related break-
down can be caused by five or six days of cloudy weather in the
fall. While frost injures or destroys fruit, bloom and foliage, never-
theless temperatures well below freezing often do little damage to
plants that have been properly fertilized if frost does not form.
Mr. Will Pomeroy reports that in his yard in Orlando pineapple
plants were not injured by the 1940 freeze nor have they been in-
jured since (1945). One case is reliably reported where pineapples
growing in the shade of oak trees withstood a temperature of 22
degrees-this does not necessarily mean that the temperature under
the trees was that low, but in such cases the absence of frost or/and
protection from a warming sun the following day seem to be factors.
About two weeks after severe temperatures without frost the ends
of leaves may be expected to wither-that may be the extent of the
injury, but sometimes there seems to be a long enduring stunting
of the plant. When frost has immediately wilted the plants down,
one of two things follows: the frosted leaves remain watery and
the plant soon rots, or the injured parts dry and most of the living
plants will recover.
The writer has observed these factors two or three miles west of
the Indian River:
Frost damage is more severe and more frequent where (1) the
land slopes down to the east, (2) in a depression in the field, (3)
where there is shelter as of thickets or hammocks on the west or
northwest side of the field, (4) where the soil is dark, (5) where
there is a mulch or (6) where the field is foul with grass.
Frost damage is less severe and less frequent where there is even
a moderate slope upwards to the east, where there is a thicket
growth on the east, where the soil is sandy and where the field is
The experience of bean growers on the island between Indian
River and the ocean was that frost was more frequent behind north-
1906 scene of shedded field in Indian River Area
~a~'~;- i.---~f~b~\U LCII
south windbreaks than behind east-west windbreaks. (Our cold
winds are from the northwest, west, perhaps rarely southwest.)
The only difference among the varieties as to their ability to with-
stand cold seems to be that there is less damage where the foliage
is highest and thickest.
Protection from Cold and Heat
Formation of frost is prevented or retarded by overhead shade.
A few inches beneath the ground surface there is plenty of heat and
Grass covering to illustrate covering technique-putting grass over buds in wads.
with space for sunlight between wads-Romniwhat exaggerated.
if there is no mulching on the ground to keep the heat in it rises to
warm whatever is above it. In 1940 the writer stuck a milk ther-
mometer in a low leaf crotch of a pineapple plant in the second row
of a bed of pineapples covered with cabbage palmetto fans. The
reading was 32 degrees. There was no frost under there. Then the
thermometer was laid on top of the fan above the plant and the
reading was 23 degrees-a difference of 9 degrees in about 18 inches.
This was after frost had been on uncovered plants for 10 hours.
In the White City area for many years the standard method of
protecting pineapples in winter has been to cover plants with "fans"
of the cabbage palmetto. Fans stay on better if the round side of
the stem is down. Leave fairly long stems on the fans and lay the
stem of each fan over the preceding fan. If plants are even and
fairly close together fans stay on remarkably well, but of course they
must be inspected now and then. In the old days in that area the
date for covering was December 15, the date for removing cover
was March 15 or later.
Years ago care was taken to cure the fans by stacking as soon
as cut, in small piles on platforms made of poles with poles for
weights on top of the piles. Then at the end of the season the good
fans were stacked and used again the next year. Nowadays they
do not keep well.
Grass is often used for covering pineapples. Short grass should
not be used-it sifts down and seems to do more harm than good.
Grass handled with pitch forks should be put on in wads with space
between for light, a wad to one or several plants. Saw grass and
Napier (Elephant) grass should be laid thinly to make about a half
shade. A stalky grass that can be cut before it makes seeds to sprout
or attract rats might be grown in a field near the pineapple field.
As early as 1886 a shed with palmetto fans on top was used in
Florida to protect pineapples from frost. Eventually sheds were
built in relatively frost free areas, and many acres were shedded.
The common type of shed was a slat shed as ferneries use today
-giving half shade. These sheds prevented extremes of tempera-
tures, conserved soil moisture during drouths, and prevented sunburn.
With wood burning ovens scattered evenly through the field the
temperature could be kept 10 degrees above outside temperatures
Sheds were built to give 61, to 7 feet clear above ground. By
one plan posts were set 91/2 by 14 feet. Plastering laths were com-
monly used for roofing. In addition to 80,000 laths, it took about
7,000 feet of lumber per acre for posts, stringers and braces. \Vith
lumber at $10.00 a thousand such a shed was expensive enough but
at today's prices it involves too great an investment to be considered
commercially for pineapples.
It should not be too expensive to build some kind of shed for a
home pineapple patch out of materials having no commercial value.
Sheds could be made with bamboo poles. For posts, large bamboo
poles could be dipped in some kind of wood preservative, and the
poles without treatment sometimes last well when off the ground.
PINEAPPLE ABC's 15
Cypress, white mangrove and other kinds of poles and cocoanut
fronds are available in some places. One suggestion is to stretch
wires on a frame and drape Spanish moss on them to secure the
desired degree of shade. Wire-bound crate material makes a satis-
Sprinkler irrigation systems have been used successfully to pro-
tect plants from frost. It is essential, of course, to keep sprinkling
until all frost and ice have melted. Unless a tremendous amount of
relatively warm water could be kept constantly flowing on the fruit,
sprinkling would hardly save fruit from Black Heart in frosts of long
If plants are very small when cold weather arrives and/or no
other protection is to be given, all mulching should be removed, all
weeds kept out and tall weeds and windbreaks in the direction from
which cold winds come should be removed to allow free circulation
of air. Cover laid directly on small plants is not satisfactory.
One way to protect large individual plants, buds and fruit is to
tie the leaves together above the fruit. This gives considerable pro-
tection but plants are often blown halfway over if in exposed locations.
Australian Pine Trees for Frost Protection:
Years ago a pioneer in the Ft. Pierce area told the writer that a
"Black Frost" once occurred here as late as May 10th. There was
a hard frost, in spots at least, on April 27, 1928. So continuous pro-
tection for pineapples would seem to be very desirable. In 1942,
Australian pine trees Casuarina Cunninghamiana were planted in
north-south rows on beds with pineapples. In a few years it appeared
that plants suffered stunting damage cast of the row of trees. This
agreed with the experience of the early bean growers on The Island.
Then trees were planted in east-west rows 40 feet between rows,
a bed of pineapples being planted along with each row. When the
trees reached a height of 50 feet or so they gave good frost protec-
tion to the whole feld. The trees have not branched much, so where
middles have been planted they get little shade in summer. These
(1) As with live oak trees, the pineapple plants do not seem to be
affected much by the Casuarina tree roots, except perhaps in
(2) On nights when temperature stayed 45 degrees or lower for 10
16 PINEAPPLE ABC's
These Australian pine trees planted in 1946 have given plants satisfactory
protection from frost for several years, except at east end of beds. In freeze of
January 9, 1956, when thermometer in cold spot one half mile away recorded
26 degrees for 1% hours some fruit was frozen, but some, directly under trees
was apparently uninjured. Tree foliage was unusually thin this year due to 8
months infestation of spittle bug. The area to the west is open for 600 feet.
Platts' Patch, Ft. Pierce. Photo by! Jules Frrer
hours, "Black Heart" was induced in some or all nearly ripe
fruit among the trees while none was found in an open field
close by. Due to the shade the temperature under the trees
remained low for a longer period-possibly this is the reason.
(3) Although the branches were cut off up to about 13 feet the trees
reduce the circulation of air so that there is more sunburn in
areas not shaded during the heat of the day than there is in the
open field. Pruning of branches up to 15' is recommended by
(4) Fruit in the open field not only resists sunburn much better but
after being picked it resists dehydration better, seems to have
more wax. Due to more sunshine it averages sweeter.
(5) Organic nitrogen seems to be quite unavailable for about six
months, beginning in September.
(6) Brown Spot induced by cloudiness in the fall seems to be more
(7) There is a tendency for fruit to be more elongated, especially in
(8) It seems that fewer slips are produced.
(9) These trees take nitrogen from the air (Mowry) and provide a
constant supply of rich humus.
(It should be observed that pineapples do not tolerate the roots
of the native pine trees, nor of water oaks and some other oaks.)
Protection from Sunburn
To protect leaning fruit from sunburn a mass of Spanish moss or
excelsior or a piece of burlap may be laid on. This should be done
so that the picker can see the base of the fruit without disturbing
the cover every time he comes around. Sometimes the leaves of the
plant can be tied to support or cover the fruit. In Australia they slip
a paper sleeve on the fruit, using an inverted funnel to get the sleeve
over the crown. To produce Abakkas with straight crowns, staking
may be necessary. Place the stake so that the fruit leans away from
it somewhat, and allow room within the tie for growth. If fruit has
to be lifted up to the stake, lift up some leaves also, to act as a kind
of splint for the stalk. Binder twine is the most economical material
for the tie.
Preparation of Land
It is considered best to remove stumps and rakings from the field
rather than burning them because concentrations of ashes will make
chlorotic plants. The land need not be broken deep and in some
areas it is harmful to plow up the inert layer beneath the darker
topsoil. It is well to prepare land far enough in advance so that
an excellent seed bed condition is obtained without much hand labor.
(Years ago the writer saw land prepared by hand entirely, every
stump dug out or dug around and burned, every inch of the field
was grubbed with a grub hoe just as a northern kitchen garden is
spaded. Every root was taken out-raking and ditching were by
hand tools.) It is not well to clear land too far ahead of planting
as weeds will become too much of a problem before the plants cover
the ground, also wasteful leaching occurs. As with other plants, if
soil is loose and dry deep down at planting time and a dry season
follows, plants will suffer and be slow to start. The more vegetation
that can be incorporated in the soil before planting, the better.
On the Indian River ridge fields no water furrows were needed
and the width of a bed in an open field was limited only by the
ability of a picker to toss a fruit to a man in the nearest aisle, so
that some beds were up to 60 feet wide.
In this section, for the sake of clarity we will speak of the area
between waterfurrows as "lands". A "land" may have one or more
"beds" on it. The "bed" may consist of a single row, a double row,
or a pattern with any number of rows equally distant apart.
On "flatwoods" a waterfurrow of at least 18 inches in depth is
recommended. Where the soil is quite porous, lands can be wider
than where it becomes soggy.
Pineapples seem to thrive best on slopes or crests. If compatible
with the method of weed control to be used, lands should slope to
a slight crest in the middle-or each row should be on a slight ridge.
Three hundred feet is a convenient length for lands and rows.
Where cross ditches can be used as roads it saves space.
Factors Affecting Spacing
Where water furrows are not required for drainage, planting
more than about 10,000 per acre of the large Smooth Cayenne plants
in Hawaii tends to increase the yield, but fruit are smaller and the
PINEAPPLE ABC's 19
number of slips produced per acre eventually decreases so that 18,000
plants per acre seems to be about the practical limit (Johnson).
While most Florida varieties have smaller plants, the soil is much
poorer so that 15,000 plants is considered quite close. In fact, it is
convenient to consider 10,000 plants as an acre.
Where waterf-urrows are necessary, pineapples have been planted
as far apart as 1 meter by 1.6 meters (39 in. x 62 in.) in Brazil (Bar-
bosa) and as close as 16" x 16" in Florida, in single rows, in double
rows, in beds up to 60 feet wide, in all combinations. In Cuba they
have been planted 10 inches apart in double rows which are 12 inches
apart with six feet separating the pairs of rows and a favorite spacing
for Queens in Queensland at one time was 1 to 2 feet apart in rows
9 feet apart.
Pineapples seem to thrive on crowding one way with plenty of
room another way, each plant liking an outside position. In bed
systems 18" x 18" to 22" x 22" have been used commonly in Florida.
In deciding on a pattern for planting one should consider these
(1) Covering for frost protection is more effective where beds
(2) Weed control after the first year may be easier with wide beds.
(3) Inducing bloom, staking and pruning are done more con-
veniently with narrow beds.
(4) With single or double row systems each fruit gets more sun-
shine, an advantage in cool or cloudy weather.
(5) Some varieties will require more space per plant, some less,
to come to their proper size.
In 1921 it became apparent that most of the Hawaiian Smooth
Cayenne fruit had slips growing out of the base of the fruit, like
our Abakka. By rejecting planting material from such plants this
strain has been practically eliminated (Johnson). In Florida the
Ripley Queen was subject to a disease which caused the plant to
produce suckers without fruiting. It was found that 63% of suckers
from diseased plants had the disease, but only 4% of suckers from
healthy plants (Johnson quoting Webber).
20 PINEAPPLE ABC's
Illustrating canvas mitten, canvas leggings and the scuffle hoe.
PINEAPPLE ABC's 21
Clark (1931) states that in South Africa "Mr. Aubrey Bradfield
has been propagating Queen plants from one chosen for the large
size of its fruit, by his father twenty-five years ago. Approximately
15,000 plants have been raised from this one plant and they all bear
fruit having an average weight of three to three and a half pounds
each. This is a definite step forward in the propagation of the
Queen pineapple for the weight of the average Queen is only one
and a half to two pounds." (Natal Queen is the variety referred to.)
Fortunately the plants with most vigor are likely to have the most
slips and the largest, so that where slips are planted there is a ten-
dency to preserve vigor and size. In the absence of any other cri-
terion, selecting slips on the basis of size pays good dividends. The
fellow who buys small slips cheap rarely gets a good bargain. It is
best to put plants of about the same size together.
It is the writer's opinion that Abakkas did not have nearly so
many slips growing out of the fruit when he was a boy as they do
now. The few plants without slips on the fruit usually have no slips
at all and lack vigor, or are off season.
Some characteristics to look for in selecting planting material are:
Vigor; size of fruit.
Absence of slips growing out of base of fruit; absence of slips
around the crown.
Big eyes and ripening all the way up; short strong stem and up-
right habit not easily blown over.
Time of bearing, season earlier or later than usual.
Shape of fruit-It is generally considered that fruit should be long,
cylindrical and of good diameter-avoid slender, conical or misshapen
fruit. These characteristics can be detected while the fruit is on
the plant. For special work in selection one should go through the
field just before picking and mark with paint the selected plants.
Cost and Sources of Plants
Remnants of an old publication at hand, entitled The Pineapple
at Ft. Myers, other identification and date lacking, evidently written
about 1897, give the average cost of different plants as: Smooth
Cayenne, $150 per M; Abakka, $100; Golden Queen, $75; Black
Jamaica, $200; Sugar Loaf, $25; Puerto Rico, $100; Red Spanish, $8.
From 1904 to 1917 Red Spanish plants sold between $2.25 and $6
per M. In recent years Red Spanish plants have sold at $8 to $100,
Abakkas at $30 to $100. These are prices on "slips". In 1955
Smooth Cayenne slips sold at about $200.00.
Red Spanish plants from Cuba have been considered superior
to home grown stock but it is almost impossible to get plants out
of Cuba now except crowns from Florida canneries. Sometimes
plants have been brought in from Puerto Rico. There is considerable
red tape and expense connected with importing plants from foreign
countries. Plants may sometimes be secured from juice stands and
are recovered from city garbage collections. The cost and trouble
of securing plants is such that it is usually advisable for the beginner
to start with a few plants and produce plants for expansion.
Long-sleeved canvas mittens and pull-over canvas leggings are
desirable for working in spiny pineapples. See patterns in drawings.
Goggles or glasses should be worn in picking fruit and gathering
'+atterrn for Canvas RPtT rn for CanQas
Jrh rn o, t
le v ;is -p t,,bS
Preparation of Plants
Plants should be graded by size so that those of a size can be
planted together. This prevents large plants from overcrowding
smaller ones, and makes for a uniform harvest within the block.
In the old pineapple days in Florida, plants were always trimmed
before planting, by cutting off the butt ends and shucking off some
of the lower leaves. Sunning after trimming was rather incidental-
in Florida. In some countries much attention was given to sunning
to cure wounded areas. Today, in Florida, plants are not usually
PINEAPPLE ABC's 23
trimmed unless there is some special reason such as large nubs on
slips. If plants are trimmed it should be done in sunshine. Nubs
need not be removed. Cut ends often dry out quickly.
Planting material is generally infested to some degree with the
pineapple mealy bug and the Florida pineapple mite commonly called
"Red Spider". There is no better time to deal with these insects
than at this stage. For treatment see Red Spider and Wilt under
In handling suckers of soft leaved varieties and slips of Sugar
Loaf varieties care should be taken not to break the bud leaves.
Tops of suckers are sometimes trimmed for shipping or to keep
large suckers from being blown over, but it is better to leave foliage
Plants keep well for long periods in the shade. It is better to
have each butt exposed.
Packing Plants for Shipping
Plants should be dry before being packed. Butt ends of suckers,
especially, should be to the outside of the container. Sometimes it
is convenient to tie larger suckers in bundles. When plants are en-
closed too tightly, especially in hot weather, bloom may be induced.
For distant shipments slatted crates may be best, for local shipment
burlap bags are satisfactory. Wet plants, especially suckers and old
plants, in large piles, are likely to heat and rot. Plants in the open
Where a bed is to consist of several rows and planting is to be
by hand, the spot for each can be marked by a rake-like marker run
in both directions. In planting a considerable area it is convenient
to carry slips or crowns in a big burlap apron. It saves time to drop
two plants at a time in between the places marked for them. For
planting, a strong garden trowel is the most convenient tool. The
planter sticks the trowel in the ground and pushes the handle back-
ward to cause the dirt to crack at the point where the marker lines
cross. The slip is seized with the free hand between the thumb and
fingers. The butt of the slip is pushed into the ground far enough
to stand fairly securely, depth being regulated by position of the
hand on plant. Usually no packing of earth is needed other than
the pressure of thumb and forefinger at moment plant is released.
Slips and small suckers can be planted very rapidly in well prepared
ground. With practice a good man can plant 1,000 or more slips
an hour-but not continuously. For longer suckers, holes may have
to be dug, especially if tops are not trimmed. It is said that in no
case should even large suckers be planted more than six inches deep.
Plant as shallow as practical. On large plantations planting machines
If fertilizer was not applied to the ground before planting it
should be applied promptly after-to hasten rooting.
Fertilizer is applied to pineapples in four principal ways: (1) in
the bud of the slips soon after planting, (2) in the axils of the lower
leaves, (3) on the ground, and (4) broadcast over the plants. Two
or three hundred pounds of a good balanced fertilizer applied evenly
on the ground will probably induce no visible spurt of growth but
the same amount applied in the axils of the lower leaves will prob-
ably induce noticeable growth. If fertilizer is placed on the ground
the effects will be more pronounced if placed near the bases of
plants than if spread evenly.
Fertilizers may burn plants in two ways. (1) The application
of too much sulphate of ammonia or similar material in the axils of
leaves will burn the white part of the leaf, killing the leaf if the burn
extends clear across. (2) Organics or fertilizers largely organic, even
castor pomace by itself and sometimes the budding mixture, castor
pomace, tobacco dust and cottonseed meal, will heat and cause rotting
of the tender part of leaves. Tobacco dust with nicotine removed is
more likely to cause heating. Sometimes inorganics applied in too
concentrated a form cause plants and fruit to exude a clear jelly.
Pineapple plants in. lush growth burn more easily than when
Because fertilizing material is constantly varying in one way or
another, it is wise to test any fertilizer on a few plants before apply-
ing to the whole field.
Organic Versus Inorganic Nitrogen
Nitrogen is necessary for growth. One of the puzzling problems
is how to keep an adequate supply of available nitrogen at all times.
Nitrogen from organic (animal or vegetable matter) is not readily
available in some forms, such as hair and leather. In materials used
for fertilizer it has little availability in cool weather or dry weather-
in warm weather with moisture it becomes available and leaches
gradually. On the other hand (coming from mineral sources or the
air such as sulphate of ammonia or urea) inorganic nitrogen under
cooler and dryer conditions is immediately available to pineapples
(nitrification is not necessary). But it leaches readily, especially in
thin sandy soils. Humus or clay in the soil helps retain it.
According to johlnson, average Hawaiian pineapple soils contain
7200 pounds of nitrogen per acre, mostly in unavailable organic form.
This is the amount of nitrogen available in 1000 hundred pound bags
of cottonseed meal analyzing 7.2%'. Yet it pays to make heavy appli-
cations of sulphate of ammonia for pineapples on those soils!
There is much evidence that pineapples do best where there is
a rich supply of "primary" plant foods in the ratio of about 2 parts
available nitrogen, 1 part available phosphoric acid and 4 parts
available potash. Now suppose we mix a fertilizer analyzing 5%
nitrogen, 21/2'A phosphoric acid and 10% potash, with all the nitro-
gen from organic sources and apply about two ounces per plant right
after picking the summer crop (as recommended in 1906). On the
sunny sandy ridge by the Indian River this was quite satisfactory
but where the temperature averages a few degrees colder this is
likely to produce little growth during a cold or dry winter. Some
eager growers apply bulky organic such as ground tobacco stems
so lavishly, filling the crotches, that the leaves can no longer properly
collect dew and rain in the crotch reservoirs. Without proper moisture
the fertilizer may be no more available than the nitrogen sleeping
in Hawaiian fields.
On the other hand we may use 10-4-18 fertilizer with the nitrogen
from sulphate of ammonia. Then suppose there is a heavy rain that
night. Much of the nitrogen, especially, leaches away. Our fertilizer
is out of balance.
One way to attack this problem is to combine equal amounts of
each of these two formulas. Or we can do as they do in Queensland.
QUEENSLAND FORMULA-In Queensland they use this formula:
10-6-10, the nitrogen being from sulphate of ammonia. They apply
this at the rate of 50 pounds to 1000 plants twice a year, in the spring
and in the late summer. In mid-summer they apply 30 pounds of
sulphate of ammonia alone, and the same again in the fall "while
26 PINEAPPLE ABC's
growth is still vigorous". If nitrogen is apparently needed in between
times, special applications are made. (From Mitchell and Cannon.)
PUFRTO RICAN FonM.ULAs-According to Dr. George Samuels,
Agronomist at the Agricultural Experiment Station, University of
Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras, 12-2-10 or 14-2-8 mixes are used, at the
rate of about an ounce per plant for three applications, namely:
before planting and 3 and 8 months after planting. Then 12 months
after planting (slips) they use a like amount of 8-8-13, just before
inducing bloom (they believe that more phosphorus is needed just
before the initiation of fruiting). They use sulphate of ammonia,
ammoniated superphosphate, acid superphosphate and sulphate of
potash. They also use 25 pounds of sulphate of ammonia in 100
gallons of insecticidal spray when extra nitrogen is needed. (For
humus, cover crops are plowed in before planting.)
IN HAWAII, Nightingale reports that in that rich soil the amount
of nitrogen which can be applied profitably varies as much as 7591
in the same field in successive years, due to rains, temperatures and
sunshine. It was found that a high reserve of nitrate (nitrogen) in
the plant during the three months before the fruit bud emerges is
needed to make a heavy crop, but that nitrogen applied at that time
cannot be used efficiently unless the carbohydrate reserve in the
leaves is high.
"Black-green" or "olive-green" colored leaves indicate low carbo-
hydrate reserves. In leaves of the Smooth Cayenne a high carbo-
hydrate reserve (75 to 100% of capacity) is indicated by a "yellow-
green" color (the reddish surface streak is disregarded). Counting
leaves over 9 inches in length and considering only the mid third
of each leaf (neither tip or lower end), if, under warm, sunny condi-
tions less than 15% of the leaves are "yellow-green" (under very
cool or cloudy conditions less than 30% ) the plant will not be able
to use added nitrogen at that time (unless conditions-warmth and
sunlight-are unusually favorable immediately following application).
This applies to fields where there is no lack of phosphorus or
potassium, otherwise the addition of potassium may enable the plant
to use more nitrogen.
These experiments indicate that the application of nitrogen alone
after the emergence of the fruit bud has no effect on the size of the
fruit. The writer suspects that different varieties may vary somewhat
in any of the above norms or the following percentages.
PINEAPPLE ABC's 27
Analyses of the white lower ends of leaves in Nightingale's studies
a. A leaf-nitrate reserve of more than 0.10% was unnecessary.
b. A leaf-potassium content of more than 0.38% was unnecessary
(except to facilitate the absorption of nitrogen when carbo-
hydrates were high).
c. A leaf-phosphorus content of more than 0.02% is unnecessary
during the plant-growing period, and 0.028% around the time
Formula Suggested for Small Florida Planting
For one application for 1000 plants, make 100 pounds of a
5-2-10 something like this:
50 lbs. Castor Pomace
10 lbs. Sulphate of Ammonia
4 lbs. Triple Superphosphate
20 lbs. Sulphate of Potash
14 lbs. Dolomite (for magnesium and calcium)
1/4 lb. Copper Sulphate (rather small granules)
:V/ Ib. Zinc Sulphate
1 lb. Borax
/2 Ib. Mangano (for manganese)
MOINM; FERTILZEH: As so little fertilizer reaches a single pineapple
plant and its requirements are so exacting, very thorough mixing
of fertilizer is absolutely necessary. Until quite recently the writer
had great trouble with poor commercial mixes. Even today one of
the leading growers of the State bitterly insists on mixing his own.
APPLYING FERTLIZER: The first application should be applied to
the ground before planting, drilled or raked in, in bands under the
rows. If there is danger of "sanding"* because plants are small or
soil is especially loose, slips and crowns should be "budded" soon
after planting, by dropping about a tablespoon of castor pomace
28 PINEAPPLE ABC's
or ground tobacco stems (from which nicotine has not been removed)
or similar organic on the center of the plant to keep out the sand.
If plants are larger a light application of the 5-2-10 dropped into
the outer leaves (in addition to the ground application) will promote
a good start.
If planting was done before September (which is recommended)
another application should be made in outer leaves, or on ground near
base by about November 1, than an application each 4 months, 100
pounds to 1000 plants. Between these applications apply 15 pounds
or so of sulphate of ammonia or 8 pounds of urea as needed except
when fruit is nearing maturity. Too much nitrogen will cause stems
to crack while they are still tender and later will cause cracks at the
base of the fruit and in hot weather will cause fruit to be spongy.
OBSERVATIONS ON SOME FERTILIZER MATERIALS: A pound of nitro-
gen from organic materials may cost 45 to 50 cents, from sulphate
of ammonia around 13e and from urea around 14c. Sulphate of
ammonia is considered the best source of nitrogen for pineapples in
Puerto Rico and Queensland, and has been standard in Hawaii. Pine-
apples have not responded so well to nitrates.
Sulphate of ammonia increases the acidity of the soil more than
other materials, which is doubtless one reason for its effectiveness.
If too much lodges in a tender area it will burn. Urea is also used
in Hawaii. It does not seem to burn so readily although it has 42
to 45% nitrogen to 21% for sulphate of ammonia.
Today most Florida growers prefer organic but this is not clearly
justifiable. Probably they should grow their own humus and apply
MANURE: It is inconceivable that stable manure will not bring
nematodes into the field. Well rotted chicken manure collected on
cement, where chickens have no access to the ground can be used
to a limited degree where no lime has been added. But it may be
too high in phosphoric acid to be used for all the nitrogen-this
should be checked.
Acid superphosphate applied by itself or in too high a concentra-
tion causes a jelly-like secretion-triple superphosphate seems to cause
"Sanding" refers to sand lodging in the bud-this stops growth of the cen-
PINEAPPLE ABC's 29
Muriate of potash alone or in mixes burns severely-sulphate of
potash does not burn (according to the writer's experience).
There seems to be no necessity of using a more expensive source
of magnesium than dolomitic limestone, which supplies calcium,
also. Dolomite in the mix is calculated to retard leaching.
DEFICIENCY SYMIPTOMs: "A normal healthy plant is dark green
in color and has large, broad leaves." (Varieties vary in normal
color.) "Any departure from the normal color and shape of the leaf
is indicative of some form of malnutrition." (Or disease.) If there
is a deficiency of nitrogen the leaves assume a paler color and may
even become quite yellow, with only a tinge of green in the youngest
leaves. If the plant is deficient in potash. the leaves become brittle
and stunted and lose most of the bloom on the under surface." (Mitch-
ell and Cannon.)
A yellowing of the leaves, first apparent at the growing point
(bud) may indicate iron chlorosis, caused by a deficiency of available
iron. Sometimes the skin of fruit becomes red. Use 1 pound of
ferrous sulphate dissolved in 4 gallons of water, apply as a fine mist
-avoid burning foliage. Tender at first, plants become toughened
to heavier doses. Apply as needed, using 5 to 15 pounds of the
sulphate to the acre. Young plants may require frequent applications.
On some soils the necessity for spraying may be reduced by the use
of mulch and by the use of sulphur and sulphate of ammonia to in-
crease the acidity of the soil, also by giving partial shade.
The writer has trouble with what seems to be either iron toxicity
or manganese deficiency. On younger plants the leaves get very red,
on older plants the outer leaves become grayish or yellow and the
tips wither, the fruit becomes kidney shaped-not developing on one
side, the core becomes woody, the flesh sour. Manganese sulphate
or Mangano applied to the fruit dry, undiluted, or in a spray, pro-
duces a marked recovery within three weeks. The sulphate will
wash out with the first rain. Three pounds or more of either Man-
gano or the sulphate to 100 gallons may be used for spray. Use 1 %
manganese from Mangano in the fertilizer on land where this occurs
and make extra applications if needed. The onset is quite sudden,
watch carefully for recurrence. This can happen only on land very
high in available iron.
According to Mr. James A. Winchester zinc deficiency may cause
a blistering on the upper surface of leaves, usually the older ones,
30 PINEAPPLE ABC's
one third to one half the distance from the tip, in mild cases. Spray
lightly with zinc sulphate and include a very little in the fertilizer.
SYMPTOMS OF EXCESSES: Too much phosphorus limits the size of
plants and fruit and is a cause of "spike", when the leaves are stunted,
short, pointed or narrow, waxy and misdirected.
Too much nitrogen around the time the fruit stalk is emerging
may cause a horizontal crack in the stem which usually prevents
one side of the fruit from developing, and makes it prone to break off.
Cracks may also appear at the base of the fruit, sometimes gashes
several inches long. When either of these symptoms is first noted
a light application of triple superphosphate may check the trouble.
Too much potash has apparently caused unusually smooth, waxy)
fruit with large eyes, then just before ripening, vertical cracks appear.
A light application of urea when the cracks began to appear has
checked this promptly.
TIMIN: Sometimes summer fruit is small because fertilizer was
applied too late in the fall. Fertilizer applied after all the flowers
on a fruit have opened is not likely to increase the size of that fruit,
usually going to produce suckers, slips and larger crowns. No fer-
tilizer should be applied nor cultivation given within five or six weeks
of harvest. If such fertilizing seems necessary it should contain a
small supply of minor elements.
For the benefit of the grower interested in root health under wet
and dry conditions and in producing sweet fruit, part of the Summary
and Conclusions of the article by Francisco J. Ramirez-Silva "The
Effect of Certain Micronutrient Elements on the Growth and Yield
of Pineapple Plants", Jour. of Ag. of U. of P. R. for Oct., 1946, fol-
lows, more or less verbatim:
Pineapple plants were grown in nutrient solutions from uniform and healthy
slips. The solutions were prepared with a mixture of minor elements containing
ammonia and nitrate nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium,
Fourteen different treatments of the elements: iron, manganese, boron, zinc,
copper, and aluminum, were used in triplicate. Combinations of these elements
were made in order to trace their effect, either toxic or beneficial, on pincalpple
plant growth and production, on root growth, on flowering and fruiting, and on
the quality of the fruit. The antidoting effect of iron against the chlorosis-
producing action of manganese was also studied. Plants also were grown without
adding minor elements to the nutrient solution.
PINEAPPLE ABC's 31
Iron antidotes the chlorosis-producing action of manganese in pineapple
plants. With five parts per million of soluble manganese in a nutrient solution
containing one-half part per million of boron, of zinc, and of aluminum, and
2 parts per million of copper, severe chlorosis and necrosis appeared before the
pineapple plant was able to attain full growth. But, with one part per million
of soluble iron huinate added to a similar treatment, a healthy, normal plant
Iron counteracts the chlorosis-producing effect manifested by copper and
Copper and manganese, at a concentration of 2 parts per million in the
nutrient solution produce strong chlorosis if iron is not present.
Aluminum and zinc show beneficial effects against chlorosis.
Iron shows no toxic effects on pineapple plants when added as the only
micronutrient element to the culture solution, up to five parts per million. If
chlorosis-producing elements like manganese or copper are present, higher con-
centrations are beneficial.
The reserve iron content in slips of the variety "Smooth Cayenne" is quite
enough to counterbalance the detrimental chlorosis-producing effect of the other
reserve minor nutrient elements in the slip. However, plants grown in nutrient
solutions deprived of all minor elements produced fruits of lower sugar content
than those supplied with minor elements.
Pineapple plants respond to increase in iron in the nutrient solution, giving
increase in green color, in yield, in sugar content and in decreased acid content.
Treatments with a constant supply of manganese and other micro-nutrient ele-
ments, as explained above, and with iron added in concentrations ranging from
1 to 10 parts per million, showed that the above-mentioned beneficial effect
varied directly with the increase in iron added to the nutrient solution.
Iron prevents browning of root tips, or root rot, of pineapple plants under
either unacrated or aerated conditions. Manganese and boron show also a
somewhat beneficial action.
Copper has a highly beneficial action in preventing root-rot injury, when
under unaerated conditions. However, when the nutrient solution is well aerated
the effect of copper is somewhat detrimental to the roots. Nonaerated solutions
must be well supplied toith copper and iron.
Aluminum has a beneficial action on root health and volume under the
aerated conditions of well aerated nutrient solutions, but it is highly toxic to the
roots under unaerated conditions.
Zinc exerts a somewhat detrimental action on roots under unaerated con-
ditions of the nutrient solution.
It seems that as far as root growth is concerned aeration plays an important
role; copper having a beneficial action under unaerated conditions; and aluminum
when die nutrient solution is well aerated. Iron, manganese and boron are bene-
ficial under either of the two conditions of oxygen supply.
32 PINEAPPLE ABC's
Aluminum and manganese promote increased volume of roots when tle
nutrient solution is well aerated. Copper and zinc tend to reduce the volume
of roots, but iron and boron show no direct effect.
Iron has a beneficial effect on early flowering and early maturity of the
Copper, zinc and boron, and the chlorosis-producing effect of manganese,
have a retarding effect on flowering and fruiting. In this action they are
counteracted by iron. Aluminum shows no specific effect upon flowering and
Zinc and copper tend to produce low yields. Aluminum and boron increase
the yield. Manganese does not show specific effect on yield when added alone
to the nutrient solution.
Zinc, copper, manganese and aluminum show a tendency to produce fruits
with low sugar content and high acidity.
Iron and boron show a beneficial effect by increasing the sugar content
and lowering the acidity. Iron is an important agent of hfgh quality of pine-
Zinc deficiency in the nutrient solution shows no signs of anatomical ab-
normalities in the pineapple plant.
Chlorosis in pineapple plants causes lower sugar content and higher ratios
of acid to sugar in the fruit.
NOTE: The above-mentioned conclusions on the independent action of the
minor elements refer to treatments in which they were added separately as
the only minor elements to the nutrient solutions in which the pineapple plants
were grown. The concentrations used for each clement were: 5ppm Fe, 2 ppin
Mn, 1 ppm B, 2 ppm Cu, 1 ppin Zn, and 1 ppm Al.
One can hope for no success with pineapples without controlling
weeds. On newly cleared land in Florida, if preparation has been
thorough, weed control the first year while plants are becoming
established should not be very difficult. But most planting now has
to be done on land that has been pastured or near cultivated areas
where troublesome weeds and grasses have become established. For
small plantings the scuffle hoe is the proper tool for weed control,
and is still useful around a large field. The best scuffle hoe can be
made by your blacksmith using ten or twelve inches of a grass cutter
("Lazy Boy") blade, securely electrically welded at the middle to a
strong shank which fastens to the handle by means of a sleeve. (The
triangular scuffle hoe is heavy and clumsy in comparison, and the old
style in which blade is connected at both ends with the shank catches
leaves and is not so maneuverable.) A wooden handle such as used
for spears, about eight feet long, is desirable. In scuffling pines the
PINEAPPLE ABC's 33
emphasis is not on cultivation but on killing weeds. On sand soils
with young led Spanish plants where a mound of soil has collected
around the plant the end of the blade is used to lift away some of
this sand. In general, scuffling should be no more than 1/, inch deep.
Fields should be kept clean of weeds for a year or so until plants
cover their beds, at least.
On mature fields it is sometimes possible to get by with one gen-
eral scuffling and cleaning out a year, in August, possibly later.
Spring scuffling starts crabgrass and other weeds that will thrive
all summer. Such weeds coming up in August or later do not amount
to much and will die during the winter. Of course this does not
apply to all weeds. Pokeberry and other large weeds must be pulled
up from time to time. A heavy mulch of grass or other material is
invaluable in keeping down weeds.
On well prepared land after slips are rooted well but not yet large,
a good hand can scuffle a tenth of an acre an hour but if land is rough
or weeds have gotten bad it may take up to ten times as long. The
secret of rapid scuffling is to take long strokes. When plants are
small a scuffle blade attached to a stream-lined wheel plow does the
work more easily and will save time.
Scuffling when land is very wet is considered injurious to the
As plants become larger it is best to go more slowly and to scuffle
down a row in the same direction each time so that the leaves can
accommodate themselves, otherwise leaves are needlessly broken.
During periods of rapid growth especially, leaves are easily broken
off close to the plant. In scuffling mature fields, care must be taken
to avoid cutting off ratoons when they are very small. In mature
fields there should be no scuffling where there are no weeds. Do not
scuffle within a month of harvest. For large acreages, tractor-drawn
weeding devices are used.
Chemical Weed Control
Recently two pre-emergence weed control materials suited to the
pineapple field have become available. For best results with these,
all weeds, tubers and roots should be killed by cultivation before
planting the field. Promptly after planting, or after the first good
rain thereafter, the weedicide should be applied.
One of these, sodium pentachlorphenate, has been used for some
34 PINEAPPLE ABC's
years in Australia, where they call it "PCP". It may be obtained in
this country as "Dowicide G". The following is quoted from "The
Pineapple", Advisory Leaflct No. 286, Queensland Division of Plant
Industry, by P. Mitchell and R. C. Cannon:
For use as a prc-emergcnce weedicide, sodium pentacllorphenate is dis-
solved directly in water in the spray vat, and applied at a rate of from 10 to 20
lbs. per acre, irrespective of the quantity of water used. About 100 gallons
per acre, applied to the bare surface of the ground as a fine mist spray, is
usually sufficient for normal requirements. The only precaution necessary is to
avoid spraying directly into the hearts of pineapple plants; otherwise injury may
The best results are obtained when the ground is reasonably moist at the
time of spraying. If it is very dry, and weeds are not likely to germinate in any
case, it is usual to postpone spraying until after rain has fallen. If, for any
reason, dry soil must be treated, a greater quantity of water per acre would be
advantageous. Heavy rain, even if it falls soon after spraying, will have no
effect on the result.
The success of pre-emcrgcnce weed control depends on the land being clean
and free from growing weeds at the time of treatment. PCP applied under
these conditions will keep land virtually free from weeds for a period of at
least two months.
PCP-Oil Contact Sprays
Sprays containing PCP alone, at least at the strengths used for pre-emer-
gence treatment, are of little value as contact sprays and only give a temporary
setback to most weeds of any size. The addition of suitable oils, however,
results in greatly enhanced toxicity to established weeds. For inclusion in low
pressure high volume spray equipment, the oil must mix with water, and this
necessitates the inclusion of emulsifiers.
The only oils so far tried in Queensland are diesel oil and creosote. The
diesel oil emulsion alone has virtually no effect on weeds at dilutions greater
than 1 in 80, which is below the danger limit for pineapples. The creosote
emulsion is slightly more toxic to weeds, but not sufficiently so for it to be
of any consequence in practice. The real importance of both lies in their use
in combination with PCP as contact sprays for the destruction of weeds.
Combination sprays of this kind, containing 3 lbs. of PCP and 1 gallon of
mineral oil or creosote emulsion per 100 gallons, have been found to give com-
plete control of broad-leaved weeds. If the dominant weeds are grasses, the
spray concentration may be increased to 6 lbs. PCP and 2 gal. oil emulsion per
100 gals. This spray will destroy most weeds and the surviving grasses are so
severely checked that their removal by hand chipping is greatly facilitated,
provided the work is done before recovery takes place.
For all practical purposes, diesel oil is just as satisfactory as creosote for
the control of broad-leaved weeds, but creosote emulsion is to be preferred if
PINEAPPLE ABC's 35
grasses are also involved. Unless grasses are present, there is nothing to be
gained by using higher concentrations than are necessary. Where, as is often
the case, grasses as well as broad-leaved weeds are present, the higher con-
centrations will he required.
In applying contact wccdicides, it is important to completely wet the foliage
of the weeds. The quantity required will, therefore, depend on the number
and size of the weeds present, and no fixed rate per acre can be prescribed.
In most cases it will be considerably greater than 100 gallons per acre, which
is the amount normally required for pre-emergence treatment.
Difficulty may be experienced in preparing PCP-oil emulsion sprays when
underground water is used, more especially during drought periods, when the
salt content tends to increase. Instead of mixing freely, the emulsion breaks,
and free oil, or an oil scum, acctunulates on the surface of the mixture. This
not only blocks up the jets, but also reduces the effectiveness of the spray. In
order to overcome this trouble, the water may be treated with a proprietary
water softener, such as Calgon. The hardness of the water will not materially
affect its use with sodium pentachlorphenate in pre-emergence sprays, where
oil is not included.
The introduction of chemical methods of weed control in pineapples has
curtailed labor demands, thereby considerably reducing production costs. Of the
methods in use, pre-cmergence spraying is pre-eminently the more satisfactory,
since the best way to control weeds is to prevent them becoming established.
Contact sprays arc of particular value in an emergency, when weeds have got
out of hand.
NOTE: Dowicide G is 88% active ingredients; use 1/7 more than of PCP.
Another Weedicide, "3-(p-chlorophenyl)-1,
1-dimethylurea" or "CMU"
This material, marketed as "Kanmex W", is also primarily a pre-
emergence weedicide and does not injure the pineapple plant so
long as a quantity does not enter the bud. The duPont people write:
"Karmex W Herbicide has been registered for use on pineapples
at rates of 2 to 6 pounds of product per acre on a broadcast basis.
In Hawaii application is generally made by airplane spravers.
Some plantations apply about 4 pounds per acre just after planting,
and follow this with an additional 2 pounds per acre as needed be-
tween the rows."
Use heavier applications with caution.
The writer understands that this material has been applied at
the rate of 10 pounds per acre in Florida with the idea that it might
prevent weeds emerging for one year. In French Guinea 4.4 ounnds
per acre was used in May and September but apparently really con-
trolled emergence for three months, each application.
3i3 PINEAPPLE ABC's
Karmex \\ mixes in water readily and stays in suspension well.
As with the "PCP" the ground should be moist when application
is made and rain afterwards is considered beneficial, however the
writer applied some of both on water soaked soil and a two inch rain
that night apparently washed both of them away-as would be ex-
pected. for they should penetrate the soil.
When weeds begin to appear the treatment can be repeated.
This material has been used experimentally in California orange
groves to keep down weeds and it was found the trees were not
hurt before 40 pounds per acre had been applied. It does not
accumulate in the soil over a long period but eventually decomposes.
A few weeds and some established grasses are quite resistant to
these but there is a great advantage in using them where possible
in that much injury is done to the plants and roots by mechanical
weed control, also the cost of labor saved is considerable.
The Karmex *W costs about seven times what Dowicide G costs,
A selective systemic weed killer effective against grasses, "Dala-
pon", Sodium Salt 78%, may prove useful in the pineapple field.
Application of 6 lbs. per acre, repeated in three weeks in one case
and in six weeks in another case, killed Para grass and Bermuda.
It is most effective when grass is growing vigorously and the weather
In Hawaii pineapples are usually planted with an asphalt im-
pregnated paper mulch (Johnson). Fifteen-pound asphalt impreg-
nated felt such as that used by builders is satisfactory. It conserves
moisture, heat and plant food and suppresses weeds. The writer
assumes that much of its success in Hawaii is due to a suppressing
effect on nematodes. It is credited with increasing the yield of fruit
there by 15 to 25%, but it has never found much favor in Florida.
Dr. Philip J. Westgate found the pH under such paper to be a point
lower than where there was no mulch.
Mitchell and Canunon give these suggestions:
"The paper is laid down on mounded beds The land must
be brought to a fine tilth and should be thoroughly moist before
PINEAPPLE ABC's 37
planting; otherwise soaking rain will be necessary before growth
begins The free end of the roll of paper is firmly embedded in
the soil at the end of a row and then unrolled on the surface, the
edges being covered with about 3 in. of soil to keep them in position.
A band of soil is placed across the strip at intervals of half a chain
or so. A still day is required for the work."
The writer recommends raking or drilling in a good application
of fertilizer before laying the paper.
An iron dibble is used to pierce the paper and make holes for
Maintaining a Field
With mealy bug control and no nematodes a planting of Red
Spanish, larger Queens, Pernambucos and Abakkas may be produc-
tive indefinitely although the general commercial practice is to replant
after two or three crops. Some Red Spanish fields on the ridge by
the Indian River lasted twenty-five years and some Queen plantings
in Queensland lasted thirty years. Whether to maintain an old field
or continually replant depends upon the vigor of the old planting and
the economics of the situation.
If it has taken 18 to 24 months to produce the first crop, it is
likely to be the best in average size and total tonnage. The second
crop, the next year, will come from suckers, the sucker highest on the
old stump receiving the most nourishment. This highest sucker will
produce the largest fruit, as a rule, and will be most likely to fall
over. The slower growing ratoon, the sucker that started from under
ground, may be ready to produce the third crop. Where possible
it is well to remove high suckers and those that have borne. If filling
in with new plants becomes necessary large suckers should be used
for small plants will be crowded. Or a lazy way to fill in is to throw
down an old sucker that has borne.
Slips, definitely, should be removed from the stalks as they take
the strength of the old plant. If they are left on over winter for
spring planting they will get the brunt of any frost and the red
spider is likely to be rough on them.
In South Africa an iron hook on a wooden handle is used to re-
move suckers from the Natal Queens. The writer has never been
able to devise such a hook that will work-nor to produce a market-
able second or later crop from Natals, which they also do in South
Precautions should be taken against fire getting into mature fields
as they burn furiously. Sparks from the railroad caused frequent
fires on the Ridge in the old days. Four-foot firebreaks around every
acre are recommended in one old bulletin. To stop a fire, pull up
a row or two of plants.
Spreading the Harvest
Each variety of pineapples tends to ripen in a period of about
three weeks in the summer. Back from the warm Indian River ridge
in St. Lucie County, Red Spanish, Queens and Pernambucos start
ripening about June 10 in normal years; Abakkas, July 4; Smooth
Cayennes around August 1 and the Sugar Loaf around September 1.
Further south the seasons are a little earlier. So if one wishes to have
his crop come in throughout the summer, one way is to plant different
It is possible that a late strain may be found within any variety-
possibly an early strain.
It is reported that maleic hydrazide is used to delay bloom in
Hawaii. It is possible that a method can be worked out to delay
bloom by applying copper in the right amount at the right time.
Under proper conditions one can start the formation of a fruit
by applying one of several substances to the bud.
Inducing Bloom "Smoking"
Perhaps the most practical substance for use in inducing bloom
in Florida is calcium carbide (used in some acetylene welding outfits).
Some growers just drop a few grains into the buds on cool mornings.
repeating in a week. One method is to pour from a fifth to a third
of a cup of water into the bud with the carbide-it makes no differ-
ence which enters first. From a Puerto Rican grower comes the
recommendation to put 30 gallons of water in a 55 gallon drum. Intro-
duce twelve ounces of carbide, close the drum tightly and roll and
shift until agitation from the reaction stops-then draw off and apply-
but not by a pressure method.
Cold water will hold more gas than warm and the writer has never
gotten satisfactory results from one application except when he used
ice water (40 to 60 degrees). By using ice water at night he expects
almost 100% response with fair sized Queen and Pernambuco plants,
nearly as well with Abakkas. 67% with Red Spanish. CAUTION:
PINEAPPLE ABC's 39
THE ACETYLENE GAS FORMED IS EXPLOSIVE UNDER PRES-
SURE OR HEATED AND SPARKS MUST BE KEPT AWAY ALSO.
The bulletin from Australia suggests putting 5 or 6 ounces of car-
bide in 4 gallons of water in an open container-use as soon as
bubbling stops. Treat 80 plants per gallon.
Even with ice water there will be little response after the tem-
perature of the air reaches 87 degrees.
The bloom starts very soon and in warm weather can be seen in
the bud of the plant in about six weeks. If one wishes to check
before that to see if he got results he can check in ten days by sacri-
ficing a few plants. Cut off the top of the stem of the plant, remove
the lower leaves and cut off the others above the top of the stem.
With a thin, sharp blade split in the exact center as shown in the
drawing. In a plant in which no bloom has started there is visible
an oval line at the head of the stem dividing the stem substance from
a layer to which the leaves are attached. If bloom has started a bulge
in this oval is visible at the tip of the stem (the bud). See illustration.
Scre, b has stht sthr7
BJ'secTd "vir;jon p[14+ Scrt;on o"f p r iti- in ah;Ch
bloom vnSs indtrczd Somer
ten dcys preivl.0s'I
Repeatedly the writer has started out in the spring with carbide
and ice water and a feeling of unreality-surely this treatment will
not actually produce bloom! But now research has shown that in
Hawaii, bloom may be advanced or retarded, the fruit stalk can be
strengthened, the "shell" or peeling strengthened, the weight of the
fruit increased as much as a pound or more each, date of maturity
delayed one to three weeks, sometimes as much as two months, and
the quality of the fruit improved by applying 25 to 100 cc of solutions
of water and any one of several "synthetic hormones", at various times
and at varying ratios.
4-0 PINEAPPLE ABC's
By applying a solution of anywhere from 1 to 16,500 to I to 200,000
of sodium salts of naphthalenacetic acid, or beta naphthoxy acetic
acid, or other specific hormones, bloom can be advanced; but by
using 1 part of the hormone to from 1,000 to 10,000 parts of water,
the flowering is delayed. Moreover, after the bloom has been started
and before the fruit is half grown, applications of from 1 to 1,000
to 1 to 33,500 directed mostly on the fruit will: enlarge and strengthen
the fruit stalk, increase the weight of the fruit, improve its quality,
strengthen its "shell" and delay its ripening. Repeated applications
enhance the effects. For a more detailed discussion secure Patents
No. 2441163 and 2428335, issued to Ferdinand P. Mehrlich. Send
25c in cash or money order to Commissioner of Patents, Washington,
D. C., for each.
In a letter dated January 3, 1956, the President of Hawaiian Pine-
apple Company, Ltd. (to which these patents were assigned), states
that the Company is agreeable to licensing growers to use these
patents for a fee of $50.00 each patent. It is to be noted that the
patents do not cover inducing or "advancing" bloom. In Australia
alpha naphthaleneacetic acid is now preferred to carbide. They use
a 1 to 200,000 solution, about 2 fluid ounces per plant. WARNING:
These hormones may produce different results in Florida.
When bloom is induced in vigorous, uniform young plants that
have not borne before, the fruit may all ripen in about two weeks-
but in an older field the varying rates of growth will make the harvest
period longer. When carbide is applied from May to July 15, harvest
may be expected to start for these varieties about as follows:
Queen and Red Spanish -...-........5 mo.
Abakka and Smooth Cayenne ..--. 51/ mo.
Pernambuco -....----.. --.-....-.-...-..6 mo.
Sugar Loaf .-..--...-- -.......------....... 7 mo.
A few days difference in treatment after July 15 may result in
weeks difference in maturity, depending on temperatures. Winches-
ter gives these figures for Abakkas:
DATE OF TREATMENT DATE OF HARVEST APP. TIME
July 15 Dec. 10-20 5 mo.
August 14 Feb. 15-25 6 mo.
September 5 Mar. 25-Apr. 10 7 mo.
PINEAPPLE ABC's 41
To Make Fruit Sweeter
Somewhat in line with this magic is a discovery the writer believes
he has made which seems to apply only to the type of soil in his
field. This hardpan land with a pHI of about 4.3, apparently con-
tains so much iron that either iron toxicity or manganese deficiency
requires frequent applications of manganese. Manganese sulphate
applied to the fruit three weeks or more before harvest, in the case
of Queens, apparently makes them sweeter, and even when picked
with yellow showing only at the base, they will, on coloring, be as
sweet as those allowed to ripen fully on the plant. Cold weather,
subnormal growth, cultivation or fertilization may upset the process.
Abakkas respond as readily, but may require a little more time; other
varieties require two or more applications. Manganese sulphate
applied as dust or spray has not burned, but a rain within a few days
may wash it off. When lime is added in equal parts to the spray the
spray sticks and is as effective-but if applied less than five or six
weeks before harvest the black residue stains the fruit.
General Suggestions for Sweetness
In general it is held that the sugar content of the fruit increases
very rapidly during the latter days of the ripening process, so that
a fruit picked 'green" cannot be so sweet as one ripened on the plant.
Fruit temperatures depend on air temperatures and the sunlight
striking the fruit. A fruit in open sunshine becomes hot inside just
as a closed car does. Nightingale states that with an air temperature
of 74 degrees it is possible for a fruit in full sunshine to become 130
degrees inside (in Hawaii); further, that if the average fruit tempera-
ture is high the week before picking, the fruit will be low in acid-
and vice versa.
Pineapples grown in the open and on outside rows are likely to
be sweeter, and in cloudy or cool weather less subject to interior
An adequate supply of iron is connected with the problem. Iron
(ferrous) sulphate in spray is the accepted manner of application-
it seems to be ineffective in the fertilizer. Light balanced applications
of boron, manganese, copper and zinc may be applied in the fer-
tilizer and are calculated to improve the flavor. For spraying with
iron see "Iron Chlorosis" under "Fertilization".
Cultivation or fertilization within 3 or 4 weeks of harvest may
12 PINEAPPLE ABC's
injure the sweetness and flavor. Tobacco dust applied to a bed of
ripening Queens could be tasted in the fruit picked in about a week.
As a boy, nearly 50 years ago, the writer helped the hired man
pick our Abakka pineapples. Two whcclbarrows were used, each
fitted with a rack to increase the capacity a little. Fruit was picked
at the first sign of maturity as the practice was to ship by freight to
Jacksonville, then by boat to a northern port. The hired man picked.
He would cut the stem close to the base and if there were nubs or
slips on the base of the fruit he would cut them off smoothly. He
would ordinarily give the crown a shake to get the water out, being
careful, however, if the crown seemed insecurely attached to the
fruit. HIe tossed the fruit to the "man" at the wheelbarrow, who gave
it another shake and stacked it on the wheelbarrow carefully. When
both wheelbarrows were loaded they were wheeled to the barn and
the pineapples were placed in the bins in this manner. The first
ones were laid on their sides, butts about even with the edge of the
bin, crowns toward the back of the bin. The next ones would be
placed mostly on the crowns of those below, butts still to the front,
which elevated the butts somewhat. As more fruit was piled in this
manner the butts were more and more elevated. Thus every butt
was exposed and most of them elevated to promote drying. It was
considered best to let each fruit dry and cool until the next day.
Then each fruit was wrapped with a generous square of hard finish
wrapping paper, completely covering the butt, and placed snugly in
the slatted crate, the crowns being utilized as much as possible as
padding. This procedure was probably close to the general prac-
tice with Abakkas at that time. The Red Spanish were generally
broken off instead of being cut and were handled in baskets as field
Today each grower seems to have a different practice. Fruit is
usually allowed to show more ripeness. In picking, sometimes fruit
can be broken off the stem, at another season each stem may have
to be cut to prevent its breaking up inside the fruit, "plugging". The
writer still uses a wheelbarrow in his "patch". Two lettuce crates
are carried on it and larger fruit is put in one, smaller or culls are
put in the other. Pieces of corrugated paper from old cartons, cut
to size, are carried and placed on the bottom of the crates and between
layers. Great care is taken to prevent a bruise. (An ideal field
crate would have sides of slender wooden rounds like chicken crates,
PINEAPPLE ABC's 43
so that fruit could be fully sunned and dried while still in the crate,
fruit being laid with butts to the outside.)
In the packing shed the fruit are placed by size and set crown
down, against the back of the bin first.
If it is necessary to pick in warm misty weather the stems and
any cut surface should be carefully painted with a solution of salycilic
or benzoic acid. This is to prevent Black Rot or other infection.
Bratley and Mason give this formula:
Alcohol (95%)) ........-........---..- ......-.... --- 32cc
Water --------..----..---.........--.... 68cc
Benzoic Acid ..........--- ----...... --.... -_. .-- ... 2.5 grams
The writer uses salycilic acid. Make a stock solution of salycilic
acid, water and alcohol at about the same rate as above. Keep this
in a dark colored container. As needed use one part of this with
two parts of water. (A practical advantage of having the salycilic
acid solution on hand is that applied to hands and wrists it quickly
cures the little blisters often caused by handling pineapples.) In-
stead of either of the above, Mr. Radebaugh recommends the use of
Sulfocide. This painting of the cut surfaces should be done as soon
as possible after picking, within two hours anyway. If Black Rot
does show up it is probable that bins, field crates, picking mittens,
etc., should be treated with a fungicide, as the writer has seen the
black spores all over the end of a crate where fruit juice had run.
The presence of decayed fruit around the packing house attracts
fruit flies. These spread the black spores and another form of infec-
tion which prevents stems drying.
When stems are not curing properly the picked fruit is sometimes
left in pathways or on top of plants to get full benefit of sun and air.
In such practice, watch out for sunburn.
In hot weather when fruit is curing properly, if it can be picked
early in the day before the sun has heated it, there seems to be no
reason not to pack it right away. One day the writer packed a lug,
selecting the greenest fruit, for shipment to California. They were
still very warm when packed. Each fruit was well wrapped. For
some reason the lug was not shipped, .so on the next day it was un-
packed and each fruit was found to be ahnost fully colored. For long
shipments in warm weather the loss of time in allowing fruit to cool
over night before packing is more than balanced by the slower ripen-
44 PINEAPPLE ABC's
ing. A desirable alternative would be to have facilities for cooling
fruit to 60 degrees before or right after packing.
In pineapple parlance "fancy" has two meanings. In contrast to
the Red Spanish or "common" pineapple the tenderer varieties are
called "fancy". And of course the best grade of any variety is prop-
erly designated as "fancy". If Florida growers expect luxury prices
for their product they must grade closely. "Plugged" fruit, those with
split cores, raw or extensive cracks at base, or bruises, notably lop-
sided, abnormal or blemished fruit, those with crowns about to fall
off and those known to be of inferior quality should be graded out
of the "fancy" pack. Of those rejected the fruit that will keep well
and make good eating may be graded as "seconds" or "choice"-and
the poorer fruit may be sold by the bushel for "canning".
It seems that the first commercial shipments of pineapples from
Florida were bulk shipments by schooner. Next they were packed
in barrels with holes cut in for ventilation. A crate of barrel capacity
was used, then a crate of half barrel capacity. What was first known
as the standard "Florida crate" and more recently the "Cuban crate"
holds 1.96 bu. and is divided into two compartments.
In this standard crate each fruit was ordinarily well wrapped with
a hard finish paper. The illustration shows how the Red Spanish
fruit were laid. There were three layers. Three four-pounders per
layer in each half made 18 to the crate. Four three pounders per
layer in each half made a crate of "24's". Five, six, seven and eight
to the layer in each half made 30's, 36's, 42's and 48's. Seventy-two
pounds of fruit per crate is the legal weight in Florida. A crate
should be filled snugly to prevent fruit from bruising each other.
Long type pineapples like the Abakkas were laid lengthwise for
sizes up to 24's. 30's could usually be packed crosswise.
Recently Cuba began using a half section of this crate in the Flor-
ida trade, and it is now called a crate. Florida growers use various
cartons of a bushel or less. For the fancy pack the writer prefers a
carton with the dimensions of the half bushel tomato lug. For local
deliveries various used wire-bound crates will be found satisfactory,
if lined with corrugated paper or newspaper.
PINEAPPLE ABC's 45
Where excelsior or newspaper is used for packing, strong cartons
without ventilation carry pineapples satisfactorily.
The most important point in advertising is to have a superior
By harvest time have packing supplies on hand and arrangements
Develop local markets as far as possible. The railway express
minimum rate increased from 85c to $1.85 between 1950 and 1954,
moreover, discounts for large shipments are not allowed as formerly.
Packed Crate of Spanish Pineapples, 30 Pack. Each Firit is Wrapped.
(Reprint from Fla. Ag. Exp. Sta. Bn. 84, 1906, Pineapple Culture IV-
Handling the Crop. by If. Harold ltlume.)
The writer ships by express only on orders or at crop peaks when he
has no other choice. Some growers are located where they can do
better shipping by truck.
Sometime during any summer a grower may have to pick much
heavier than ordinary. Sometimes his fruit may be poor for a while.
It would be well to have northern outlets lined up to receive ship-
ments at such times. Someone in the old home town might be inter-
ested in handling some of these.
46 PINEAPPLE ABC's
Beware of shipping pineapples around Christmas because of the
Christmas traffic jams and cold weather. The express company will
not make good when fruit is ruined by cold.
For many years some Natal Queens have been shipped each year
from South Africa to England. An investigator, Mr. Rees Davies,
in his Bulletin No. 71, South Africa Department of Agriculture, Fruit
Storage Investigations, as quoted by Clark, says:
"Storage investigations reveal that pineapple can not be stored
at temperatures below 450 F .. At 400 F. and under, disorganization
of the cells and tissues takes place At temperatures of 450 F. and
above, normal ripening proceeds during and after cold storage .
Types of fruit have been identified which have superior keeping
qualities to the average run of fruit. These give fifty per cent longer
life after cold storage and there are strong indications that they can
be stored at 40 F. without showing signs of deterioration. The need
of selection is stressed."
If one is to ship by refrigerated truck there must be an under-
standing about the temperature to be maintained. A temperature
of 60 degrees would be desirable. See "Blackheart" under DISEASE,
Smooth Cayenne fruit-Photograph by D. S. Radebaugh, Lakeviel Pineapple
Plantations, Sebring, Florida
PINEAPPLE ABC's 47
Miller and Blair produced Red Spanish on their best experimental
plot at Jensen at the rate of 537,, crates per acre. In one instance
a ten-year-old field of Red Spanish on the river front south of Ft.
Pierce produced 300 crates per acre. But with Reds the average
was probably nearer 200 crates. Yields of 586 crates and more per
acre have been reported with Abaldcas-such a yield would amount
to 20 tons. The first crop is expected to be the best. For one reason
or another, yields rarely attain the theoretical maximum in Florida.
Flavor, size and vigor depend upon soil, fertilizer, culture, climate,
etc. Unless otherwise stated the seasons given below are for St. Lucie
County in a normal year. Drouth and cold weather delay maturity.
Seasons farther south are a little earlier, and in central Florida are
Specimens of 5 varieties, in order: 1. Red Spanish; 2. "Congo Red" (a seedling
variety from the Congo); 3. Abacaxi (Abacaxi do Pernambuco, English, Eleuthera)
-double and multiple crowns are quite common in this variety; 4. Queen;
48 PINEAPPLE ABC's
The Smooth Cayenne is the most important variety, worldwide.
The large smooth-leaved plants produce .a fruit up to eight pounds
or more. The slightly yellow flesh has excellent flavor and enough
fiber to make it an excellent canner. The season in Florida is given
as from June to August. In St. Lucie County they usually ripen in
This Smooth Cayenne was once grown under sheds at Punta
Gorda, St. Petersburg, Orlando and elsewhere in Florida. It is the
variety grown in Hawaii and the leading variety in Queensland.
Recently a "'white" fleshed Cayenne, called "Esmeralda" by some,
has been introduced into Florida from Mexico. Radebaugh describes
this as a very vigorous strain, well suited to Florida conditions, flat-
woods, etc., producing slips well, and strong suckers. Some authori-
ties think it is not a new variety.
Second in worldwide importance is the Red Spanish, the leading
variety of Cuba, Puerto Rico and formerly in Florida. It does best
on "good" spruce pine ridge land as along the Indian River where
once about a million crates were produced annually. The plant is
vigorous, disease resistant and long lived, some fields having produced
continuously for upwards of twenty-five years. A nice sized fruit of
this variety is a three-pounder, but they make up to six pounds. The
white flesh is firm with strong fiber and excellent flavor. It is the
best shipper. The season is May and June. From "smoking" to
mature fruit is 5 months up. Propagation is mostly by slips. It is
quite resistant to mealy bug wilt.
Of third importance is the Queen, the leading variety in South
Africa and of importance in Australia. It is ordinarily not so juicy
as most varieties. The flesh is a rich yellow, the flavor rich and sweet,
the core often quite tender. Because of the attractive aroma and its
habit of holding up well after coloring all the way up, the Queen is
especially suited to grocery store sales. The eyes are sometimes small
and pointed, making the fruit have a somewhat immature appearance
some seasons-again it has larger, rather smooth eyes. The season
is June and July. Under best conditions the Queens mature fruit
about four and a half months after "carbiding". Propagation is gen-
erally by sucker.
The Natal Queen, also called the "Natal", is small, 1 to 2y/ pounds,
has a peculiar habit of producing, while the first fruit is developing,
a great number of suckers. When some of these suckers have attained
sufficient size, in a year or so, the grower may induce bloom to have
PINEAPPLE ABC's 49
fruit coming all the time. In fertilizing it must be recognized that
this one plant with many suckers is entitled to more than the plant
of other varieties. In South Africa they plant "stumps"-a stump
being a sucker that has borne fruit and has several suckers showing
on it before it is removed from the parent plant. It will not bear
the first fruit so soon as the sucker but it bears more regularly after
it starts (Clark). (Now that we can induce bloom the argument
for using the stump does not seem so valid.) After suckers on the
mother plant have borne fruit they are broken off. In South Africa
this variety is planted two feet apart in rows five feet apart-some-
times in double rows. After the fifth year they recommend plowing
annually. In Florida second crops have not been successful. Of this
variety Mr. D. S. Radebaugh writes: "It is a variety that fits in well
with modern machinery in growing, harvesting, etc. This variety
seems to do so well on the drier high sandy land and produces a much
larger fruit than on lower land where the Abachi seems to thrive."
The MacGregor Quleeln was introduced from Australia in 1938.
The fruit cannot be distinguished from the Natal, except that it aver-
ages larger-a good first crop from slips on flatwoods land should
average 31/- pounds per fruit. The plant suckers more freely than
MIacGregor Queens in fall of 1955 were plant ed in 1946 .
Platts' Patch, Ft. Pierce
the Abakka, but not profusely as the Natal. It produces usable slips,
and produces slips about as well out of season, and with forced bloom,
as in the summer.
Pernambuco (white Abacaxi do Pernambuco, Abacaxi, Eleuthera,
English) is generally spoken of as having white flesh but there is
a slightly yellow tinge to the ripe fruit. It has a rich fragrance, is
very juicy with little fiber, and when ripe, is very sweet with little
acid. Johnson says "The Pernambuco is not surpassed in quality by
any other variety of pineapple." In size it averages smaller than the
Abakka but specimens may weigh up to 5 pounds. Often the core
is little more than a tough string. Like the Queen, it may have very
small pointed eyes under some conditions, and again much larger,
quite smooth eyes. The peel is exceptionally thin. It is claimed
that it never gets "black heart".
As a rule the crown is rather stiff, the tips of the leaves tending
to come close together. It persists in making slips in conditions
where other varieties produce few or none. Crowns are often double
or multiple and slips often double, but it seems useless to rogue these
out in planting material. Slips never grow out of the base of the
Pernambuco pineapple displayed by Mrs. H. J. Emminger, Lake Placid
fruit. Very often the fruit can be picked without a knife, but some
seasons it will "plug".
Mr. Radebaugh states that it needs less space than other varieties
(see illustration). This means that after it is established weeds do
not bother it much.
The season is long, from June 10 into August. It seems to take
six months from inducing bloom to harvest.
There are several drawbacks to this delicious variety. It leaves
the buyer guessing. In June it may be over ripe inside when from
the outside it appears just beginning to ripen. Later in the season
a fruit may have to be fully colored to be good. On some soils it is
inclined to be insipid. In wet seasons the stem is inclined to remain
Field of Natal Queen-D. S. Radebaugh Pineapple Plantations. Sebring.
wet and it is likely to be the tenderest of shippers, although in a dry
season it may dry readily and ship and keep extremely well. Some-
times the fruit sunburns badly, even when standing erect, again it
stands sun well. On the fruit stand it seems to lack eye appeal.
Abakka (Abacaxi, Abbachi, Abaka, Golden Abachi, Bacaxi). Once
there were three displays of this variety at a show in Miami-from
three different growers-and each grower used a different spelling.
The writer obstinately clings to the spelling he remembers from bov-
hood days in White City.
An advantage it has for this locality is its habit of sending up
bloom late so that late frosts were usually avoided. Season, July;
A Pernambuco Pineapple Grown in a Can-Radebaugh.
weight up to six pounds, averaging larger than Red Spanish; flesh
yellow; flavor rich, sweet; tender shipper; fruit matures normally five
to six months after "carbiding"; see under "Inducing Bloom". The
Abakka commonly has slips attached to the base of the fruit. In
order to have sound fruit for shipping these slips should be cut off
when fruit is about a quarter grown. This should be done in bright
sunshine to avoid infection. Staking, especially around the edge of
the fields, is often necessary. Propagation is commonly by slip. It is
especially subject to "black heart", and is usually reluctant to ripen
all the way up.
Cabezona (Puerto Rican), of no present importance in Florida,
was once grown here in limited numbers. It is notable for its size,
weighing up to fifteen pounds. In Florida it was especially suscep-
tible to disease.
Congo is a practically wild variety with small fruit, deep eyes and
poor flavor. However there are in the state at least two seedling
strains from this Belgian Congo parent. To make a distinction the
writer has used the term "Congo Red" for the more civilized seedling
strains, both very similar as to fruit but the foliage of one strain is
very dark and tie other light green.
The bright red bloom is very ornamental for an extended period.
Multiple and rosette crowns and slips are common and practically
all slips grow out of the base of the fruit. It is difficult to cut these
off when the fruit is ripe but the cut cures over almost invariably. In
very hot dry weather if the fruit is not covered there is a tendency
for the core to crack, ruining that portion of the fruit above the crack.
A nice Abakka-with slips. This variety has great eye appeal on the fruit stand.
Staking is usually necessary in the open as the weight of crown and
slips is often considerable. The fruit weighs up to five pounds. The
eyes are usually large. There may be a tendency toward vase-shaped
fruit. The fruit is sturdy with a fiber comparable to the Red Spanish,
although under adverse conditions the fruit may be woody, again
tasteless. Under good conditions the flesh is very well flavored and
ripens all the way to the crown. The ripe fruit has a shiny, waxed
appearance, especially sometimes in the fall. Usually the eyes are
deep. With some selection a very good strain should be obtained
from this very showy variety.
t< ;... -. 1
M,-^, ^ ... ... ,.,...
The sugar Loaf. In Latin America brown sugar is sold in cone shaped cakes.
hence the name derives not only from the sweetness but also from the conical
shape, typical but not universal in this variety.
PINEAPPLE ABC's 55
The season is from about July 15 to August 15. From "carbiding"
to maturity the period is about 41/2 months.
The Sugar Loaf gets its name from the resemblance of its shape
to that of the loaf of brown sugar in Latin American countries, as well
as from its sweetness. The literature describes the flesh as yellow,
but the writer would call it white. It is regularly sweet and richly
flavored. The fruit is tender and requires careful handling. The
leaves of plants and crowns break out very easily and it may be that
this explains the commonly held fallacy that if the crown leaves of
a pineapple can be pulled out easily the fruit is ripe. When the
fruit approaches maturity it must be watched with special care that
worms are not eating holes in it-on sides or shoulder of this fruit.
Because of the numerous slips it is often difficult to tell when it is
ready for distant shipment. If the base of the fruit is yellowish it
may be picked. It makes more suckers than the Red Spanish. The
slips are inclined to be slender, rarely grow out of the fruit. The
stem is short and staking is not often required, appropriate features
in a pineapple that ripens during the storm period from August to
October. The period between "smoking" and maturity seems to be
at least seven months. There are many strains of the Sugar Loaf,
but of these only the Black Jamaica need be mentioned as there are
a few in the state hardly distinguishable by their blackness before
ripening from the Sugar Loaf from Cuba. Because of the name, no
plant sells more readily than the Sugar Loaf but because of its rather
drab appearance the fruit does not sell well on the market. It is a
very poor shipper.
All fruits of the Sugar Loaf varieties do not always conform to
the typical cone shape, sometimes being quite globular in shape.
Wild Brazilian (Brazilian Scarlet) makes a very large vigorous
plant with very large spines about two to the inch. The bloom is
large and retains a gorgeous scarlet color for a long time. The fruit
is of medium size with a heavy vicious crown and thorns on the
bracts or "scales". The fruit is a very whitish yellow when ripe,
and is full of seeds. For ten years or so the writer considered it in-
edible but then discovered that when cut at just the right stage it
has a rich, syrupy juice, sweet all the way up. Because of the fiber,
and the seeds, it is not exactly edible-but it is ornamental.
The other pineapples in the list are classified as Ananas satimus
(Lindl.) but this variety is classified as Ananas bracteatus (Lindl.).
Besides these mentioned there are many strains and more names,
from the Ananas michrostachys, another wild Brazilian with a fruit
about half the size of a man's thumb, sometimes, to the Ananassa
bracamorensis, said to weigh as much as 25 to 30 pounds (Johnson).
Disease, Enemies, Etc.
Interior Breakdown (Black Heart) appears under two different
sets of conditions-is indicated by brown spots in the fruit when
caused by cloudy weather. Brown cores and dark spoiled areas,
hence called "Black Heart", more quickly inducing decay, are caused
by low temperatures-below about 45 degrees for about ten hours
may cause it. The fruit loses flavor and the spots enlarge as the
fruit ripens. Abakkas are specially subject to the brown spotting.
Slender Queens are more susceptible to the cold damage; "fat" ones
less. Queens may be affected before New Years Day and not after.
The writer believes he has not observed either of these in Pernam-
bucos, Red Spanish or Smooth Cayennes, although it is known to
have affected the last named. This breakdown, from either cause,
is more prevalent in a shaded field.
Black Rot or Soft Rot is caused by a fungus that fills the core with
black spores. When picking fruit in warm wet weather, especially
if fruit is subject to rain or mist before stems have cured, paint stems
promptly with benzoic or salycilic acid or Sulfocide-see under "Har-
vesting". If it appears, field crates and bins should be treated with
a fungicide and all spoiled fruit carried off promptly.
Blislers from under the skin of the Abakka fruit during ripening
in warm, wet weather. It may be due to improper fertilization.
Chlorosis is a yellowing of the plant, in Florida generally due to
too high a concentration of calcium, carbonate in the soil. Spraying
as needed with ferrous sulphate is recommended. (See Iron Chlo-
rosis under Fertilization.) Using a mulch, using sulphate of ammonia
in the fertilizers and applying sulphur, by lowering the pH, may make
the iron in the soil available.
Cracks in the stem of the fruit, causing fruit to be crooked, un-
developed on the side above the crack, and cracks in the base of the
fruit are due to too much nitrogen. Possibly applications of phos-
phorus or potash would reduce damage. Avoid by using fertilizer
cautiously during the fruiting season.
Vertical cracks on the sides of very smooth, shiny fruit nearing ma-
turity may be caused by heat, and also by an excess of potash. If
caused by too much potash a light application of sulphate of ammonia
PINEAPPLE ABC's 57
or urea, to the plants (not directly on the fruit) will stop further
Crows sometimes bite into the shoulders of pineapples. If the
grower does not put poison in these holes or take other effective
measures promptly his crop may be destroyed in a day or two. Barium
carbonate will do, and is not very poisonous.
Curving of the plants may occur when about six months old. They
will probably straighten up.
Holes eaten in the base of fruit in latter July and August are prob-
ably due to a worm that climbs up at night or in cloudy weather,
rather than to roaches. Cutworm bait sprinkled lightly around each
fruit is very effective-avoid getting on fruit.
Kidney shaped fruit, similar in appearance to fruit crooked by a
cracked stem, may be caused by too much heat on that side. Shading
or straightening the fruit may allow quick recovery. Where there is
a great deal of available iron in the soil, fruit may likewise stop
growth on one side and become woody and of poor flavor. Manganese
sulphate or Mangano dusted or sprayed directly on the fruit will
cause it to recover a great deal in shape, texture and flavor in as little
as three weeks time.
Leaf Spot-"Whenever pineapple leaves are wounded by rubbing
against each other, by bruising by the wind, or by grasshopper bites,
a white straw-yellow or black spot forms." (Johnson) This leaf spot
is due to the same fungus, Thielaviopsis, as base rot and black rot.
Sunlight and dry conditions reduce its effects, while humid conditions
promote it. Leaf Spot is not generally very serious.
Mealy bug-see under Will.
The Palmetto beetle, Rhynchophorus cruentatus (Fab.), enters
the bud of the plant and lays eggs in the young stalk and fruit espe-
cially. The bud leaves and fruit are often badly shredded. Some-
times the injury immediately affects only one side of the fruit stalk
and the fruit may develop, usually malformed. This is the large
beetle, black, or black and red, that works through rotten palmetto
logs. Such logs should be removed to a distance of a hundred yards
or more from the pineapple field.
Rabbits, especially where plants are covered as with grass or panl
fans in the winter, often eat the leaves off the plants from the ground
up to as high as they can reach. Castor pomace in the winter fer-
tilizer seems to discourage this.
58 PINEAPPLE ABC's
Rats eat into the stem of the plant at the ground, especially after
the rabbits have trimmed off the leaves. They sometimes cut the
plant down, and often destroy young ratoons and suckers. The dam-
age to small ratoons and suckers often goes unnoticed but may be
very serious. If one notices his plants begin to fall over in spots he
must act at once. Ground fish or meat mixed with barium carbonate
at the rate of 5 pounds of bait to one of this poison may be effective.
For a full discussion of "Rat Control" see Conservation Bulletin No. 8,
U. S. Dept. of Interior, Stipt. of Documents, Washington, D. C.,
price 10 cents. To keep rats from starting on plants, use castor pom-
ace in the fertilizer, 200 pounds to the ton seems to be sufficient.
At harvest time pickers should carry barium carbonate and wher-
ever a hole has been eaten into a fruit by a rat, rabbit or coon, a
liberal sprinkling of the poison should be applied. It probably rarely
kills the vermin but it makes them sick of pineapple.
The Red Spider, Stigmaeus floridanus (Banks) is a small mite
which can be seen with the naked eye as just a small red spot on the
white part of the leaf of slips and crowns especially. They occur
in colonies which give a reddish tinge to areas covered. These areas
later become brown and then black where decay organisms have
gained entrance. Infestations become worse in hot weather so that
severe damage may become apparent toward the end of July. When
crowns are badly infested, bacterial infection spreads from the crown
down to the fruit, showing first in the creases of the fruit and causing
premature coloring of the upper eyes.
In the past this mite was not commonly of much importance but
where it is necessary to use parathion frequently to control mealy
bug this pest is becoming very serious, destroying slips and fruit.
Except perhaps sometimes in wet weather the white ends of the
leaves where this mite lives are so close together that water, dust
or spray will not penetrate and there is no way to reach it. The best
that can be done is to use sulphur with the parathion-it is effective
as far as it penetrates.
The one time the red spider can be reached is at planting time.
Dipping plants in emulsion containing two pints of Systox per 100
gallons of water gets it by penetrating the sap. This is now a "regis-
tered" treatment. This same dip should be fairly effective against
mealy bugs. SYSTOX IS DANGEROUS TO INHALE OR TOUCH.
USE ONLY AS DIRECTED. TREATED PLANTS SHOULD BE
HANDLED WITH NATURAL RUBBER GLOVES, EVEN AFTER
TH-EY ARE DRY.
PINEAPPLE ABC's 59
Root-knot nematodes and nematodes that do not cause knots on
the roots of pineapples have been blamed for the dying out of the
old pineapple fields along the Indian River. The writer suspects
there were other contributing causes-see discussion under History.
However satisfactory yields are not to be expected on infested soil.
In general the nematode does not seem to be a problem in pine-
apple fields where new land was used in the first place. Precautions
should be taken not to bring in infestation on tools, plants that have
had roots in infested soil, etc. Experiments in Hawaii (Carter) in-
dicate that the treatment of soil with 200 pounds per acre of "D-D
Mixture" is very effective. Other soil fumigants are now available
but one should not make a commercial planting on infested ground.
Root rot-Not only newly set out plants but old plants may be
attacked by fungi causing the roots to rot. Injuries caused by insects,
tools, excessive water and fertilizer injuries may prepare the way
for these attacks. Pulling a plant up and exposing the butt to the
sun for several weeks may effect a cure. In fact a pineapple plant
sick from almost any cause will usually respond to this treatment.
Sanding is the filling of the bud of small plants with sand. This
seems to bother Red Spanish especially and is of course worse on
loose sandy soils. Filling the bud of the slip with an organic fer-
tilizer keeps the sand out. On sandy fields there is a tendency for
sand to mound around young plants, Red Spanish more than others,
according to the writer's observation.
In such cases a little soil may be pulled away from each plant on
the corner of the scullle hoe at each scuffling. On the shallower
rooted varieties this is not recommended.
The Pineapple Scale, Diapsis bromeliae (Kerner) is seen now and
then, the male a white pencil shaped fellow, the female covered with
a round scale. Yellow spots on leaves and fruit are a symptom. The
writer has not seen great damage from this insect. Parathion is effec-
tive against it.
Spike is a disease causing short wedge-shaped leaves or long
narrow leaves, probably due to improper fertilization, usually too
much phosphoric acid. Spiky planting material should not be used.
A change in the plant's diet may effect a cure.
"Wilt is one of the most serious pineapple troubles and its causes
have been most obscure. The first symptoms of wilt are usually in
The Pineapple Mealy Bug (Pseudococcus recipes, Cockerell). Photograph by
Vestgate, Subtropical Experiment Station, I-Iomestead. Florida--"shows mealy
bugs below the sawdust mulch."
PINEAPPLE ABC's 61
the color of the leaves which changes to a reddish yellow. The leaves
lose their rigidity, start to wither from the tips, and gradually dry
up, turning hard and brown. If any fruit is produced, it is usually
shrunken and woody." (Johnson)
There are various causes of wilt. One common cause is nitrogen
deficiency. In this case the small leaves in the heart remain green.
Too high a concentration of minor elements appear to cause a wilt
Nematode will is a slow wilt of stunted, impoverished plants.
Swamp wilt occurs where drainage is poor. Varieties differ in
their resistance to the different wilts.
Quick wilt or mealy bug wilt is the sudden collapse of large,
healthy, dark green plants caused by a virus or toxin carried by the
pineapple mealy bug, Pseudococcius brevipes (Cockerell), "the first
sign being a pale color and bending of the heart leaves." (Topper)
Whether it will be a quick or relatively slow wilt depends on the
condition of the plants, the density of infestation, and the material
on which the bugs previously fed. This disease is often characterized
by green spots in the discolored areas and on the fruit.
The adult female of tllis soft bodied, sucking insect is shaped
somewhat like a lady beetle but is covered with evenly arranged
tufts of a cottony, waxy secretion which sheds water like a duck's
back and doubtless protects the creature from the effect of many
sprays. A fringe of wax protrudes around the lower edge. This
mealy bug reaches a length of about a sixth of an inch. Many vari-
eties of ants take care of these mealy bugs so as to enjoy the "honey
dew" secreted. In dry weather they carry them down to the under-
ground roots, in wet weather they place them under the base of
fruit. Commonly they are found on the white, tender part of the
leaf where the leaves are pressed close together and on the roots
close to the plant.
Dusting or spraying with parathion is highly effective in con-
trolling the mealy bugs in the field. Wolfenbarger and Spencer in
Circular S-36, U. of Fla. Experiment Stations, "Insect Control on
Pineapples," recommend 85 to 90 pounds of 17% dust per acre. For
spraying the writer would suggest six-tenths of a pound of technical
parathion in one of the liquid forms to 500 or more gallons per acre.
It is his opinion from limited experience that this dosage or more,
applied in several thousand gallons of water, through a sprinkler
irrigation system is better, especially on old plantings. Wolfenbarger
and Spencer suggest inspections every month or two and spraying
when infestation of three adjacent plants is found. Thirty days before
harvest would be a good time to spray or dust if there is likelihood
of an infestation.
In preparing material for planting near old plantings the Systox
dip discussed under "Red Spider" will give practical control. But
when a new field is to be planted it is highly desirable to destroy
all the mealy bugs and red spiders at the old field. (The writer has
seen plants hauled to the middle of a new field to be treated!) Prob-
ably the only way to kill all the mealy bugs on planting material is
to fumigate with methyl bromide. Complete kill of the mealy bugs
may be expected by using 2 pounds per 1,000 cu. ft. (capacity of
chamber) for 2 hours with temperature at 78 degrees or higher.
Since a few red spiders may survive this treatment the writer con-
siders that experiments should be continued to determine the time
at this dosage necessary to get all the red spiders, probably 15 min-
utes longer would suffice. Perhaps Pernambucos could not stand this
as they sometimes show burning from the two hour treatment.
Methyl bromide is put up in one pound cans under pressure and
vaporizes upon release. It is heavier than air and for this reason we
use a small electric fan in the gassing chamber to keep the gas from
settling. The gas is non-inflammable but is especially dangerous to
handle as it has little odor. A good plan is to make the gassing
chamber 500 cu. ft. or a multiple thereof, so that whole cans of gas
can be used at a time. However, an applicator with a graduated
cylinder is available which permits the use of any desired part of a
pound of gas and stores the rest. A breezy and shaded location for
the gassing chamber is desirable to avoid danger of the plants heat-
ing while packed in it. So far as the gas is concerned the plants
need not be dry while being treated. We try to pile the plants so
that the air can circulate around the piles, crates, bundles or sacks
As a check on the effectiveness of each fumigation the writer
placed a window in the wall of fumigation chamber. Before the
chamber is sealed a few large ants are imprisoned in a bottle with
perforated metal top and bottle is placed inside the window. If ants
succumb during the period it is assumed that fumigation is suc-
It seems advisable to let plants air out a couple of days after
fumigation before planting. It has been established that if tempera-
PINEAPPLE ABC's 63
tures fall below 70 degrees the nights after fumigating sweet potatoes
with methyl bromide undue breakdown occurs. There appears to
be a similar undetermined critical temperature for pineapple, per-
haps close to 70 degrees.
Plants fumigated with methyl bromide showed no noticeable
mealy bug infestation a year later while fruit was being picked and
planting material gathered, although there were spots of infestation
in nearby plots that had been treated with cyanide gas. A careful
check of ten suckers from one plot by Mr. Max Osburn's office showed
one bug on one sucker.
The writer secu-ed apparently excellent control of ants for a long
period by a granular 2 per cent aldrin but he became so sensitive to
the stuff that he had to discontinue its use. There is need for some
new long-lasting insecticide that will control both mealy bugs and
ants without making the Red Spider worse, as parathion does-and
one that will have little effect on warm blooded animals.
Observations on Selecting a Pineapple
in the Market
The primary sign of ripeness in a pineapple is the yellow color
extending upwards from the base. Unfortunately some varieties are
sometimes ripe while still uncolored, and others, like the Abakka,
may not ripen all the way up before they are too ripe at the base.
Of pineapples of a given variety, a "fat" one of good size with large
eyes and pronounced fragrance should be selected. The idea held
by many shoppers that the pineapple is ripe if the crown leaves
come out easily has no foundation in fact. Generally the ripest of
a lot may be assumed to have been picked ripest, hence be sweetest.
Some pineapples assume a "wet" translucent appearance inside
when fully ripe-this is called "water core". The fruit has lost sweet-
ness but is still wholesome. If a pineapple tastes good it is not too
ripe to eat, even if it tastes a little winy.
General Properties of the Pineapple (Abbott)
Pineapples, canned or fresh, are excellent sources of vitamins
A, B and C. Pineapple contains a protein splitting enzyme, bromelin,
a powerful digestive of albuminous matter. Most active between 90
degrees and 108 degrees F., this enzyme is destroyed at 126 degrees F.
As pineapple also loses so much flavor in cooking, it is a shame to
cook a good fresh one. Pineapples are supposed to induce a good
Preparing a Pineapple for Eating
In the old pineapple clays on Indian River there was no market
for very ripe fruit and they were almost free goods. One would trim
the crown with a sharp knife to make a handle, then holding the
fruit by this handle would peel and eat.
To prepare a pineapple to divide and eat out of hand, one may
cut it like one would a watermelon so that each one gets a sector
from "rind" to the core and eats it off the "rind". As the base and
core are the sweetest parts of the pineapple and the upper part is
not so sweet this is a very fair way to divide it.
If a pineapple needs sugar, slice it or chop it up and let it stand
Some people buy a pineapple to "smell up" the house but others
hold that the proper use of a pineapple is to make a pie. In the
making of the pie there are again diverging schools of thought. Some
chop lie pineapple fine and thicken, others use larger pieces and
bake just as an apple pie. But one may enjoy the full flavor and
goodness of raw pineapple and still make a pie by baking a crust,
then filling with fresh chopped pineapple, covering with meringue.
A showy method of preparing a pineapple salad is to use small,
very ripe pineapples of a tender variety and proper proportions. Pre-
pare one fruit for each person. Cut the crown off squarely at the
shoulder. With a sharp spoon scoop out the edible portion, being
careful to leave the peeling intact. Chop up the fruit part. Add
chopped cocoanut or what you will to the fruit, then refill each hol-
lowed out pineapple and replace the crown. Somewhat larger pine-
apples are split from end to end, including the crown, and hollowed
out, for two servings.
Barbosa mentions pineapple omelets and fishballs with pineapple.
If one has pineapple to cook, slices on top of the dish of baked beans
or on top of the baked ham go well.
The ancient Greeks believed that their gods on Mt. Olympus
feasted on a very dainty dish which they called "ambrosia". The
modern recipe for ambrosia is to chop up fresh pineapple and any
other fruit at hand such as apples, grapes, oranges, etc., and add
either grated fresh coconut or shredded coconut.
But for the very best dish that can be made, make a shortcake,
open and butter while hot, and pile chopped-up fresh pineapple
between and on top.
Pioneer Mechanization-IM. E. Card, 1911-Plantation on ridge near
Couriesy of F'red Alisplmw
r -- -
6(i PINEAPPLE ABC's
Deep frozen pineapples are the next best thing to fresh ones. Very
sweet small Queens are sometimes put in the deep freeze with no
more preparation than peeling and packaging.
Mr. Benjamin Baker of Key West planted pineapples on Planta-
tion Key in about 1860. Of the early industry in the Keys Mr. H. R.
Saunders is quoted by Spencer:
"During the early days our shipments were made by schooners
from the farms to New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore. The
schooners would lay off from land in the deep water and we would
boat the pines out to them as the schooners were unable to come
into the dock. There were 13 or 14 families on Elliott's Key, all
raising pineapples, and it was customary for all the growers to con-
solidate and charter schooners which cost from $1,000 to $2,000 a
charter and the schooners would carry from 6,000 to 8,000 dozen
pineapples and the pineapples would bring in the market 75c to
$1.00 a dozen-some years we got as low as 60c a dozen. An average
crop on Elliott's Key would be from 50,000 to 75,000 dozen pine-
apples. I remember one year in particular I went to New York on a
schooner which carried 5,600 dozen stowed in bulk. The load was
eight or nine feet deep from the platform to within two feet of the
deck. This space was left for ventilation. On this trip we went
from Towey Rocks Light to Pier 18 New York in 51/2 days-the 5,600
dozen pineapples arrived in first class condition but we found the
market pretty well glutted as there were two schooners about the
same size as ours, from Abaco. We sold our cargo right out at 60c
a dozen to McCormack and Hubbs and they unloaded them at their
"When we could not make up a schooner cargo we would bring
the pineapples to Key West and have them packed in barrels, bore
a hole in the barrels and cover the tops with sacks and ship them by
Mallory Lines to New York."
In about 1860 a Mr. Brantley planted pineapples on Mcrritt's
Island. Several boat loads of plants were subsequently brought from
the Keys so that by 1876 "there was hardly a settler from New
Smyrna to Jupiter but had his pineapple patch."
"In 1879 the first pineapples to be shipped to a distant market
from the Indian River section were gathered from these settings.
"Captain T. E. Richards of Eden, Florida, was credited with
I -- V < *
AbouJt 1905-Red Spanish Pineapples grown under shed at Stuart. Capt. W. 11. Bessey is said to have planted this acre without
paths and to have produced 600 crates, which would hle over 2(0 tons. Pineapples thrive better in half shade than in open. Quite
a nunLimer 1OL acres wer\e she(idedl around St:uart and Jensen. Photo courtesy of Stanley Kitlchh),
68 PINEAPPLE ABC's
originating modern pineapple culture. His first plantings were made
on the Island opposite Eden, but proved a failure due to bears
eating up most of the ripened fruit. His work was then transferred
to the mainland at Eden which proved successful and his first ship-
ments were made in 1884." (J. W. Corbett as quoted by Spencer.)
Most of the pineapples grown on the Keys and on the Indian
River were Red Spanish. In 1870 Captain Burnham of Canaveral
secured a boat load of plants from a Mr. McMilan (Spencer). These
plants were Queens, known in Florida as Egyptian Queens. Smooth
Cayenne plantings under sheds were made in Volusia, Orange, Lee
and other counties.
The Florida East Coast Railway reached Ft. Pierce in 1895 and
thereafter, in spite of serious freezes now and then, the industry
expanded rapidly. In 1899 there were 1,325 acres in pineapples
and the crop was 95,442 crates. The 1908-09 crop was 1,110,547
crates, and the acreage was probably about 5,000 according to Vos-
bury and Winston. By that year the Cuban crop had reached a
total of 1,294,037 crates and markets were oversupplied. The aver-
age price to Florida growers for 1909 being given as 76c per crate
while the cost of producing a crate was figured at 95c to $1.05
(Figures from Spencer).
Benefited by water rates, Cuba could ship a crate to Chicago
at a lower rate than Florida could. In 1913 the Underwood Tariff
reduced the rate on imported pineapple but worse troubles were
befalling the growers. In 1910 spots in fields along the Indian River
began to show signs of failing, a red wilt developing. Roots rotted
off, plants soon died. Gradually whole fields were affected. Young
fields set out might thrive for a year and then quickly succumb. With
the war in Europe proper fertilizer, especially potash, became ever
harder to get and finally freezes in 1917 and 1918 virtually wiped out
Experts investigated and concluded that the root knot nematode
was responsible, recommended planting immune cover crops until
the nematode was starved out. The writer feels that this diagnosis
is incomplete. I-Ie recently (1945) visited an eight year old field
of Red Spanish on the ridge. The field is playing out but this is
attributed to cold and drouth. The remaining plants have a good
color and do not seem to be diseased. No mealy bug was observed.
Live roots taken from a few of the smallest plants along the edge
of the surviving area appeared to have no root knot or injury-most
of the roots were dead. Yet at the edge of the field melon vines had
root knot. The writer suggests that Red Spanish pineapples in the
ridge area would not have been so much affected by root knot were
they not weakened by other factors. He suggests two:
1. Tcday it is recognized that pineapples need considerable
amounts of magnesium. The fertilizers popular in the old days
usually had none other than that contained in the organic. The
writer suggests that fields along the Indian River received appre-
ciable amounts of magnesium and beneficial amounts of boron and
other elements from the salt spray blown over from the river. The
Indian River was salty because, with an inlet at Sewall's Point, one
at Ft. Pierce and others far to the north, recurring tides kept the
south end quite salty. But in 1909 a storm virtually closed the inlet
at Ft. Pierce and the storm of 1910 finished the closing. As soon
as the inlet was virtually closed, drainage from the mainland began
driving the salt water out of the river and diluting it. Year after year
the water became sweeter until after a heavy rain in 1915 the water
was so fresh that all the clams and many fish in the river died. As
the water gradually became fresher the spray blown from it brought
less nourishment to the fields. It may be no mere coincidence that
failure in the pineapple fields began to show a little in 1910 and
became more pronounced as time went on.
2. The water table under the ridge has gone down a good deal
since early times.
Pineapple acreage in the state reached a low point in the late '20's.
In about 1930 Mr. R. A. Carlton, Agricultural Agent for the Seaboard,
became active in efforts to revive the industry and according to
Spencer there were about 250 acres in the state in 1934, the Abakkas
now being comparatively more important than formerly. Through
inquiries addressed to county agents and others, the writer estimated
that in the spring of 194.5 the acreage was about 200. In October,
1955, the acreage remained about the same.
ABBOTT, OUIDA D.
Geucral Properties of Some Tropical and Subtropical Fruits of Florida:
U. of Florida Ag. Exp. Sta. Bn. 237; 1931; pp. 23-25.
Cultura, Commercio e Ildustria do Abacaxi: Empreza Editora da "Chara-
cas e Quintoes" R. da Assemblea 16; Sao Paulo, Brazil; 1932.
BLAIR, A. W.
Fertilizing Value of Pineapple plants: Press Bu. 144, Fla. Ag. Exp. Sta.; 1910.
BRATLEY, C. O., and MASON, A. S.
Control of Black Rot of Pineapples: U.S.D.A. Circular 511; January, 1939.
Soil Treatment with Special Reference to Fumigation with D-D Mixture:
Jour. Ec. Ent.; Feb., 1945; Vol. 38, No. 1, pp. 35-44.
CLARKE, LLEWELLYN H.
Pineapple Culture in the Eastern Districts of the Cape Province; Dept. of
Ag., Union of South Africa; Government Printer, Prctoria (3rd), 1931.
FLETCHER, C. C.
Conservation of Fertilizer Materials from Minor Sources: U.S.D.A. Miscel-
laneous Publications 136, 1932; Govt. Printing Office, Washington, D. C.;
GILE, P. L.
Relation of Calcareous Soils to Pineapple Chlorosis: Bn. 11, Puerto Rico Ag.
Exp. Sta., 1911, U. S. Covt. Printing Office, Washington, D. C.
HENRICKSEN, HENRY C.
Fundamentals of Pineapple Growing: Proc. of Fla. State Hort. Soc. 1939;
Filter Press Cake Increases Pineapple Yields in Puerto Rico. Bn. 104,
U. of P. R. Ag. Exp. Sta. 1952.
JOHNSON, MAXWELL O.
The Pineapple; Paradise of the Pacific Press, Honolulu, T. H., 1935. The
most comprehensive text on the subject.
MILLER, H. K., and BLAIR, A. W.
Pineapple Culture III, Fertilizer Experiments: Bn. 83, Fla. Ag. Exp. Sta.,
MILLER, H. K., and HUME, HAROLD
Pineapple Culture 1, Soils: Bn. 68, Fla. Ag. Exp. Sta., 1903.
PINEAPPLE ABC's 71
MITCHELL, P., and CANNON, R. C.
The Pineapple, Advisory Leaflet No. 286, Division of Plant Industry, Queens-
land Dept. of Agriculture and Stock, 1953.
Symbiotic Nitrogen Fixation in the Genus Casuarina; Soil Science No. 6,
December, 1933; pp. 409-425.
NIGHTINGALE, G. T.
Nitrate and Carbohydrate Reserves in Relation to Nitrogen Nutrition of
Pineapple; The Botanical Gazette, Vol. 103, No. 3, March 1942, pp. 409-
Potassium and Phosphate Nutrition of Pineapple in Relation to Nitrate and
Carbohydrate Reserves; Bot. Gaz. Vol. 104, No. 2, Dec. 1942, pp. 191-228.
RADEBAUGH, D. S.
Growing Pineapples in Central Florida: Fla. State Hort. Soc. Proceedings,
1943; p. 131ff. Discusses the "new" Smooth Cayenne introduced from
RAMIREZ-SILVA, FRANCISCO J.
The Effect of Certain Micronutrient Elements on the Growth and Yield of
Pineapple Plants. Jour. of Ag. of U. of Puerto Rico, Vol. XXX, No. 4,
Oct. 1946, pp. 197-250.
RODRIGUEZ, A. G.
Influence of Smoke and Ethylene on the Fruiting of Pineapples: Jour. Dept.
Agr., Puerto Rico, vol. 16; pp. 5-18.
ROLFS, P. H.
Pineapple Growing: U.S.D.A. Bn. 140, 1901.
SPENCER, L. E.
Assembled Data Concerning Pineapple Culture in Florida: F.E.C. Ry.,
Miami, Fla., 1934. (Mimeographed Volume)
TOPPER, B. F.
How to Grow Pineapples. Extension Circular No. 49, Dept. of Ag., Jamaica.
B. W. 1. 1952.
VOSBURY, E. D., and WINSTON, J. R.
Pineapple Culture in Florida: U.S.D.A. Bn. 1237 (1921).
WINCHESTER, O. R.
Observations on Growing Pineapples at Flatwoods Plantation: Proc. Fla.
State Hort. Soc., 1941; p. 139. Describes methods of "smoking" and ex-
WILCOX, E. V., and KELLY, W. P.
The Effect of Manganese on Pineapple Plants and the Ripening of the Pine-
apple Fruit: Hawaiian Agr. Exp. Sta. Bn. 28; 1912.
72 PINEAPPLE ABC's
WOLFENBARGER, D. O.
Systox, A Systemic Insecticide for Pineapple Mite Control, Pr. Fla. State
Hort. Soc. 1952, pp. 197-199.
WOLFENBARGER, D. 0., and SPENCER, HERBERT
Insect Control on Pineapples. Circular S-86 U. of F. Ag. Exp. Stations. 1951.
YOUNG, FLOYD D.
Frost and the Prevention of Frost Damage: U.S.D.A. Fanners Bn. 1588
Revised 1940: Supt. of Documents. Washington, D. C., 10c.