BULLETIN NO. 125
PHILLIPS K. PLATTS
STATE OF FLORIDA
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
NATHAN MAYO, ComImissioner
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PHILLIPS K. PLATTS
STATE OF FLORIDA
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
NATHAN MAYO, Comm1Zissioner
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View of Indian River and pineapple field on ridge, date about 1908.
The Pineapple -- --
Propagation Terminology - - -
Soil and Location -----------
Growing Pineapples on Alkaline Soils -
Temperature Problems- - ----
Protection from Cold and Heat - -
Preparation of Land - - ------
Factors Affecting the Width of Bed --
Factors Affecting Spacing -- - ---
Cost of Plants -- --
Preparation of Plants -- - -----
Planting --- -- -
Fertilizing Materials -
Sources of Nitrogen -
Other Sources of Phosphoric Acid - -
Sources of Potash - -----
Sources of Magnesium and Calcium --
Minor Elements - - -
Formulas --- --
Cultivation --- -
Maintaining a Field ----------
Paper Mulch - - - - -
Inducing Bloom "Smoking" -
Harvesting --- --
Packing -- -
Marketing -- ----
Refrigeration -- --
Sizes of Fruit and the Market -- ---
Varieties -- -
Diseases, Enemies, etc. - - - -
Observations on Selecting a Pineapple in the Market -
General Properties of the Fruit -
Preparing a Pineapple for Eating - -
Bibliography -- ---
The writer takes this opportunity to thank the "old
timers" who have always been ready to answer his ques-
tions, especially Mr. R. L. Goodwin, for the use, too, of his
file of bulletins; and Mr. D. S. Radebaugh, Mr. O. R. Win-
chester, Mr. V. E. Wrather (Director U. S. Geological Sur-
vey), Mr. Erston V. Miller, and Mr. J. R. Furr (of the U.S.
Subtropical Fruit Field Station at Orlando), Mr. Erdman
West and others of the University of Florida Agricultural
Experiment Station at Gainesville, and Mr. Scott U. Stam-
baugh of the Department of Agriculture of the Bahamas
-for information by letter; Mr. Max Osburn of the U.S.
D.A. Subtropical Fruit Insects Laboratory at St. Lucie,
always a friend in need; and Mr. Philip J. Westgate of the
Florida Subtropical Experiment Station at Homestead for
criticising the manuscript, for photographs and other in-
PHILLIPS K. PLATTS
Ft. Pierce, Florida
August 24, 1945
PINEAPPLE A B C's 5
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 underground. 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. Belong-
ing 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 admirally suited to collect-
ing dews and light showers so that there is commonly some
water in these reservoirs at their bases. A pineapple plant
whose stem was dead at the ground has been observed to
send down new shiny roots from the living upper part soon
after a Bordeaux spray had been applied to the field. (While
a plant in such a condition can function for sometime with
fertilizer in the axils and ideal moisture and temperature
conditions, a healthy field depends largely on healthy root
The fibrous stem of the pineapple plant acts as a reser-
voir for stored food for the plant. The leaf is adapted not
only to collecting but also to conserving moisture. These
characteristics are 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
two or three months 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. Some-
times a seed producing strain occurs but this is undesirable.
6 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Pineapple seeds resemble apple seeds somewhat, but are
It is claimed that the sugars of the fruit are derived prin-
cipally from starch previously stored in the stalk, and from
that manufactured in the leaves, and that during the short
period of normal ripening there is a rapid accumulation of
sugars in the fruit, so that fruit picked green can not de-
velop a normal sugar content later. (Wilcox and Kelly):*.
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 consid-
erably), 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 direction seem to be
confined to crossing varieties in the attempt to secure com-
binations of good qualities (Johnson).
While the fruit is growing, buds along the plant stem
usually develop into new planting material. If an under-
ground bud develops it is called a "ratoon". The ratoon is
desirable to leave attached to the old plant to produce a
future crop because its own roots are in the ground. It may
grow quite rapidly, utilizing the established root system of
the parent, unless plants higher up on the stem are allowed
to remain, in which case they usually get most of the
Ratoons removed and planted in new fields have these
two disadvantages: they seem to lack the vigor of crowns,
slips or suckers; and, having had direct contact with the
ground they are more likely to carry root disease.
Suckers are plants that develop from the stem of the
parent plant between the ground and the fruit stalk.
If there is a long stem and sometimes a fruitlet between
Where a reference is indicated without any title such as "Mr." or "Dr." see
Bibliography for citation.
PINEAPPLE A B C's 7
the parent plant and the sucker, the Hawaiians call this
sucker a "hapa" from their word for half.
"Slips" are plants that grow on the fruit stalk or emerge
from the base of the fruit itself, the latter a very undesir-
able feature. Slips quite commonly have fruitlets at their
The plant on top the fruit, which appropriately gives
the pineapple the title of "king of fruits," is the crown.
Sometimes the crown has slips growing beside it, called
"crown slips," which like slips growing out of the base of
the fruit are undesirable and for this reason should not be
planted when other material is at hand. Multiple and ro-
sette crowns are also undesirable commercially.
"Stumps" are suckers that have borne a fruit while still
attached to the parent plant. Where planting material is
scarce these are sometimes used and they seem to be the
principal material for propagating Natal Queens in South
The two most important commonly used planting ma-
terials in Florida are slips and suckers. Good slips planted
from July to September will naturally bear the second sum-
mer, but where growth is satisfactory we can force these
to bear in the fall of the year after planting. (See under
Where slips have done well the first natural crop should
produce good fruit on almost every plant and should have
an abundance of slips (most varieties) but a forced crop
of most varieties will rarely have slips.
It has been customary to indicate the size of slips by the
length and eight inches has been considered a satisfactory
size for Red Spanish. Sometimes five-inch plants were used.
But as the proportions of slips vary, some being slender and
weak, the diameter of the butt or the weight of the slips
per hundred at gathering would have more significance.
Large suckers may bloom at any time after being planted.
If bloom appears before roots are established the fruit will
8 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
be small. Suckers are usually counted on for a natural crop
the summer after they are planted. In 1944 the writer
planted 560 selected Natal Queen suckers on March 22nd.
A heavy rain April 3rd gave }hem 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 13/4 ounds which is fair for Natal
Queens. There was a tendency for cores to be large as a
result of the rate of growth perhaps. Very few fruit were
too small to market. See illustration.
This crop was produced 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 134 pounds, fair size for
.P ._ .-'e, : _
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.
Crowns make excellent planting material, having larger
butts than slips. So one who eats a fresh pineapple that
suits his taste has produced in the crown highly selected material with
which to start raising pineapples. Where may he plant it?
PINEAPPLE A B C's 9
SOIL AND LOCATION
In Pineapple Growing in 1901 Rolfs wrote, "It is not
the humus in the soil that is detrimental to the pineapple,
but it is the want of free drainage. The soil prepared by
the gardeners who grow this crop under glass illustrates
this point. Their standard formula is as follows: Two
parts decomposed, fibrous loam, one part well-decayed
manure, another part one-half inch bones and powdered
When Florida was shipping around a million crates of
pineapples a year, most of them were grown on the sandy
spruce pine and hickory scrub ridge along the Indian River.
Much of this ridge was protected on the west by "The Sa-
vanna," a shallow, river-shaped lake paralleling the Indian
River. Best results were generally obtained where yellow
sand appeared at or near the surface. Sandy hammock
soils on the same ridge were also planted. In general these
soils contained around 97% pure sand and from .18 to
1.21% humus. They usually contained enough sodium and
iron and frequently calcium but traces only of other plant
foods. The Red Spanish was the predominant variety on
Pineapples generally require an acid soil, but varieties
vary in toleration. While Johnson states that pineapples
grow in Hawaii in dry soils having a pH as high as 7.4, the
writer's experience indicates that on our sandy flatwoods
soils the pH should not run above 5.5 for most varieties,
6.0 for Red Spanish and Sugar Loaf. The Abakka will
thrive on a soil too acid for Red Spanish, a pH of 4.0 being
not too low for the Abakka but probably for the Red. As
pineapples are grown on certain alkaline soils in Florida
the discussion may as well be injected here.
GROWING PINEAPPLES ON ALKALINE SOILS
Just as there are those in Florida who shake the head and
speak of going against Nature when one speaks of inducing
10 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
bloom in pineapples, there are others willing to recognize
no natural limitations. If they want land where there is
water, they pump up land-or a lake where there is land,
they create a lake. When these latter want to grow pine-
apples or coral rock, they devise a way. Dr. Philip J. West-
gate reports that the shallow sandy soil over oolitic lime-
stone on which Mr. David Light is preparing to plant a
new field of pineapples has a pH of 8.2, and in the adjoining
field excellent "Eleuthera" pineapples have been grown.
A sawdust mulch an inch or so deep is used although this
seems to make the mealy bug thrive. At the Subtropical
Experiment Station at Homestead Dr. Westgate grows
pineapples with paper mulch (see discussion under that
heading) and finds the pH under the paper a point lower
than where no mulch is used. He also applies sulphate of
ammonia every three months.
A mulch of tobacco stems is also reported. An acid
muck mulch would seem logical, but it should be pointed
out that if plants are not to be covered during cold weather,
frost damage may be expected to be worse where a mulch
Another note of caution seems to be in order: the soils
of Dade County on which these mulches are used appear
to be essentially dry soils, no matter how great the rainfall,
because of the porous nature of the rock. While the mulches
work on these soils, providing acid pockets for some of the
roots, they may not be so effective on soils that remain
normally quite moist from capillary action. Johnson notes
that where he found pineapples growing on soils having a
pH of 7.4 (in Hawaii) this was in a very dry district.
A good acid sandy hammock soil with clay at least
eighteen inches down should be very good for pineapples.
Flatwoods soil growing fly-catcher or gall berry or other
indications of a porous surface texture should be satisfac-
tory for the "fancy" varieties. ("Fancy" is used to desig-
nate other varieties to distinguish them from the "common"
or Red Spanish.) A site should be chosen where overflow
will not occur and if the soil tends to "water-log," beds
should be narrow and high with deep waterfurrows. Some-
times flood conditions will do little apparent damage, again
such conditions cause disease of the roots.
It is generally held that pineapples will do satisfactorily
with as little as 20 inches of rainfall. The slow growth
during the recent drouth suggests that a good deal more
than this is desirable for pineapples in Florida soils.
English hot-house gardeners who vied with one another
to produce the largest pineapples had a rule that the tem-
perature of the soil around the roots should not go below
70. Very little growth takes place when the soil tempera-
ture goes below 60 and after a long period of continued
cold plants become red just as when starving from some
other reason. There seems to be a tendency for September
fruit to be rather insipid, probably due to lack of sunshine
and excess of moisture during the last few days of ripening.
Were it not for an occasional frost the temperatures on the
Indian River ridge between The Savanna and the river
from Ft. Pierce south would be nearly the ideal-several
degrees cooler by day in summer and warmer by night and
more temperate in winter than are the temperatures just
a mile or so back inland.
Temperatures in the 90's will scald the fruit where it
leans or especially where the west side of the fruit is un-
shaded and the breeze is somewhat shut off. In very wet
hot weather small water blisters will form just under the
skin of Abakkas. In very dry weather with temperatures
in the 90's heat kills some bloom, stunts one side of some
fruit, causes the cores of some varieties to crack. When a
core has cracked the part of the fruit above the crack colors
soon, the part below the crack often develops and ripens
PINEAPPL~P ~ LE A B C'ss
12 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Heavy foliage of pineapple plants themselves, afternoon
shade from tall trees with clear space beneath branches for
breezes, unimpeded circulation of air by itself, each of
these help reduce heat damage.
Late fall fruit will usually have good flavor but will not
be so sweet as summer fruit. Winter fruit is as unpredictable
as the weather. Prolonged low temperatures, below 45 F.,
injure the flavor and aroma and eventually cause "black-
heart" of the fruit. But while frost injures or destroys
fruit, bloom and foliage, nevertheless temperatures well be-
low freezing seem to 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 injured since (1945). One case is credibly reported
where pineapples growing in the shade of oak trees with-
stood a temperature of 22-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 seems to
be the extent of injury in such cases. Of course the writer
does not pretend to say that any temperature without frost
will not kill. 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
the land slopes down to the east, in a depression in the field,
where there is shelter as of thickets or hammocks on the
west, southwest or northwest side of the field, where the
soil is dark, where there is a mulch or 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 clean.
The experience of bean growers on the island between
Indian River and the ocean was that frost was inclined to
settle behind north-south windbreaks but not 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 withstand cold seems to be that there is less damage where
the foliage is highest and thickest.
PROTECTION FROM COLD AND HEAT
As early as 1886 a shed with palmetto fans on top was
used in Florida to protect pineapples from frost. Pine-
apples grown in partial shade proved to be more vigorous
and the fruit of better quality than those grown in the open
field. This fact came to be so generally recognized that
sheds were built in relatively frost free areas, and many
acres were shedded.
The common type of shed was a slat shed such as fern-
eries use today-giving half shade. These sheds prevented
extremes of temperatures, conserved soil moisture during
drouths, and prevented sunburn. With wood burning
ovens scattered evenly through the field the temperature
could be kept 10 above outside temperatures when desired.
Sheds were built to give 6 2 to 7 feet clear above ground.
By one plan posts were set 9 2 by 14 feet. Plastering laths
were commonly used for roofing. In addition to 80,000
laths it took about 7,000 feet of lumber per acre for posts,
stringers and braces. With 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 com-
mercially for pineapples.
But it should not be too expensive to build some kind of
presentable shed for a home pineapple patch largely out of
materials having no commercial value. Sheds could be
PINEAPPLE A B C's
14 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
made with bamboo poles. For posts large bamboo poles
could be at least dipped in some kind of wood preservative,
and the poles without treatment sometimes last well when
off the ground. 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. Where
appearance is not too much of a consideration, palmetto
fans are as effective as ever.
It is supposed that the pineapple originated in upland
forests of Brazil. Pineapples are grown with trees to give
partial shade for protection against the excessive heat in
In 1901, in Pineapple Growing, page 45, Rolfs urged
the logic of using trees for shade:
"This side of the protection question has not received
the earnest attention that it deserves. The writer has seen
repeatedly the beneficial effect from the presence of cab-
bage palmettoes. They not only seem to protect the pine-
apple plants from the cold of winter, but to be an advantage
to the crop in the summer. Hardwood trees that have a deep
tap root frequently grow in the midst of a pineapple plot
without any bad effect and with considerable protecting
influence. It is not probable that such conditions would
continue indefinitely, since the fertilizer applied to the
pineapple roots would sooner or later draw some of the
feeding roots of the tree to the surface....
"That trees and shrubs have a bad effect upon pineapples
under certain conditions can not be denied. Pineapple
plants set out alongside of a strip of woods show the bad
effect very soon, but this difficulty may be remedied by
digging a trench between the native growth and the pine-
Tree roots will soon grow under a simple trench. To be
effective a root ditch should be opened and then filled again.
It would seem that periodical plowing with a subsoil plow
PINEAPPLE A B C's
or some cutting edge in the bottom of a water furrow would
keep the roots back satisfactorily.
The writer has received reports of nice fields grown in
oak groves. He is planting Australian pine trees (Casuarina
Cunninghamiana) to provide shelter for his field. These
trees are evergreen, fast growing, withstand cold weather
well, make an open type of shade, make a fair spread and
take nitrogen from the air in a manner similar to legumes
(Mowry). Oven dried leaves contain 1.86% nitrogen, so
that they not only protect the field, they also fertilize it.
Trees have been planted 25 feet apart in north-south rows
45 feet apart. In another plot trees will be planted about
10 feet apart in east-west rows about 35 feet apart. An
effort will be made to train or prune these latter trees to
tip to the south and shelter plants south of them only so
that the winter sun will reach in and give maximum heat
to the soil but the summer sun will have to filter through.
The idea is similar to that of the arrowhead tepees used in
the Imperial Valley of California. See page 12 Frost and the
Prevention of Frost Damage, U.S.D.A. Farmers Bulletin
No. 15 88 by Floyd D. Young.
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 field must be
gone over 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 the piles. Then at the end
of the season the good fans were stacked and used again
the next year. In recent years fans rot during the summer.
"Bull grass" and saw grass make satisfactory cover, long
wire grass would do but short grass and straw work down
16 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
and may be worse than nothing. If plants are so small that
the fans press them to the ground they will freeze. The
fan does its magic by providing a horizontal shade sup-
ported well above the bud by the leaves.
If plants are very small when cold weather arrives or
if no protection is to be given, all mulching should be re-
moved, 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. However, if some
leafy crop could be grown that would give a shelter from
above all over the field it would give protection.
One way to protect individual plants, buds and fruit is
to tie the leaves together above the fruit. This gives con-
siderable protection but plants are often blown halfway
over if in exposed locations.
Proper fertilization is an important factor in protecting
against cold. See under that heading.
To protect leaning fruit in open fields from sunburn and
from breaking or falling down, staking has to be resorted
to with some varieties especially. To stake a fruit properly
place stake so that fruit will lean away from it slightly.
Tie around neck of crown or if it appears that stem will
bend, some other location for tie has to be selected. It will
likely save later trouble if several leaves are included with
the tie covering the fruit on the west side especially. With
Abacaxis the only safe procedure is to tie leaves up on all
sides. Use binder twine. With short stemmed varieties as
Queens one may get by fairly well with propping leaning
fruit. Of course July and August fruit is most likely to
sunburn but it will sometimes burn even in October.
Moss, burlap and palm fans are used to protect leaning
fruit. Moss is the best of these.
To conclude the general discussion of soil requirements
and factors in selecting a site, one would hesitate to start
pineapple culture in Florida on any commercial scale ex-
cept on virgin soil because weed control is likely to be too
expensive and on old soils root knot and other nematode
infestation is probable.
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. Unless several plowings
are to be given best results derive from plowing with a
disc plow. The large turn plow is likely to leave a layer of
inert soil on top while the disc plow tilts the soil, leaving
it more mellow and porous with the humus distributed
throughout. It is well to incorporate native grass or a cover
crop in the soil and to prepare land far enough in advance
so that an excellent seed bed condition is obtained without
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 like 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.
FACTORS AFFECTING THE WIDTH OF BEDS
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.
For planting in any particular spot these factors bear
upon the proper width of the bed:
Where plants are to be covered for protection against
frost in winter single or double rows do not get the protec-
tion that wider beds receive, but single or double rows will
probably suffer less from rats and rabbits. If it is planned
to "smoke" plants to induce bloom, or to stake, narrow
18 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
beds are convenient, but with wider beds fruit are held up
better by foliage alone.
On flatwoods it may be r
to keep land permeable and
water in wet season.
The width of the waterful
the outside row of one bed
bed should be based on the
in keeping the waterfurrow
Beds 15 feet center to cent
for average hard pan land. (
less inclination to water log,
necessary to have beds narrow
o keep the plants well out of
rrow and the distance between
and the first row on the next
type of machinery to be used
er are narrow enough, perhaps,
Dn soils with more humus and
the beds may be wider.
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 number of slips pro-
duced 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.
Pineapples have been planted as far apart as 1 meter by
1.6 meters (39 in. x 62 in ) in Brazil (Barbosa) 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
is 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
row position. In bed systerhs 18" x 18" to 22" x 22" have
been used commonly in Flbrida. For Abakkas especially,
the latter spacing is too liberal as they will too often fail
to keep weeds smothered out. With spacing closer than
18" x 18" there is probably a tendency for suckers to come
out higher up the plant. So in deciding on a spacing scheme
one must compromise between advantages and disadvan-
tages. The short stemmed Queens are better adapted to
single or double row systems.
If on a 15' bed instead of planting 5 rows 18" x 18" one
omits the middle row and plants double rows on each side
18 inches apart with plants 14 inches apart in the row he
has a convenient path and a few more plants.
After the beds are level and smooth and the plants are
ready, the land may be marked with a marker built some-
thing like a giant wooden rake (or after some other plan)
so that lines cross at points where plants are to be set.
Usually it is not advisable to mark very far ahead of plant-
ing and it is especially inadvisable to drop plants far ahead
of the planter as a heavy rain may obliterate marks and
plants will have to be picked up before re-marking.
In 1921 it came to be realized that most of the Hawaiian
Smooth Cayenne fruit had slips growing out of the base
of the fruit, like our Abakka. By rejecting planting ma-
terial 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 suck-
ers without fruiting. It was found that 63 % of suckers
from diseased plants had the disease, but only 4% of suck-
ers from healthy plants (Johnson quoting Webber).
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
PINEAPPLE A B C's
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
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 tendency to preserve
vigor and size. In the absence of any other criterion select-
ing slips on the basis of size pays good dividends. The fel-
low who buys small slips cheap rarely gets a good bargain.
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 ad all and lack vigor.
Some characteristics to look for in selecting planting
Vigor; size of fruit;
Absence of slips growing out of base of fruit; absence
of multiple crown and slips around the crown;
Big eyes and ripening all the way up; short, strong stem
and upright habit not easily blown over;
Shape of fruit. A globular fruit will not pack well and
there is waste in peeling by machinery in canneries. For
canneries the ideal is a fruit with straight sides and flat
base and shoulder making the greatest possible number of
uniform sized, horizontal slices. A slender oval fruit packs
nicely. These characteristics can be detected while the fruit
is on the plant. For special 'vork in selection one should go
through the field just before picking and mark with paint
the selected plants.
If the size of the core and the quality of the fruit are to
be taken into consideration, of course the task is more
COST OF PLANTS
Remnants of an old publication at hand, entitled The
Pineapple at Ft. Myers, other identification and date lack-
ing, 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; Porto 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 and $10, Abakkas at $30 to $100.
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. Sometimes plants have been
brought in from Porto Rico. There is considerable red tape
and expense connected with importing plants from for-
eign countries. Plants may sometimes be secured from
juice stands and are recovered from city garbage collec-
tions. 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.
Induced bloom produces few slips with most varieties so
that this practice changes the plant picture radically. New
value is likely to attach to the varieties that produce suck-
ers more freely.
PREPARATION OF PLANTS
(Long-sleeved canvas mittens and pull-over canvas leg-
gings are desirable for working in spiny pineapples. See
patterns in drawings. Goggles or glasses should be worn in
picking fruit and gathering suckers.)
Developed plants of most varieties will keep a long time
after being separated from the parent plant if dry and in
cool shade. To trim a slip or crown the custom is to cut off
the fruity substances, then shuck off the lower leaves for
a quarter of an inch to an inch removing all the dead leaves
at least. On slips that are curved it may do to take the
leaves off the "elbow" only, with just a rubbing motion of
the thumb. The object is to permit the plant to make im-
mediate root contact with the ground. Next, the cut
ends should be exposed to the sun until well dried at least.
Curing should be longer and more thorough in wet weather.
PINEAPPLE A B C's
22 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Illustrating canvas mitten, canvas leggings and the scuffle hoe.
Of course the leggi gs were made for Dad.
The actual trimming should be done in sun light, but if
butts are in the open after an initial drying no protection
need be taken in case of showers. In other countries the
plants are often sunned for a week or more, but in Florida
it appears that a few hours is ordinarily sufficient. In fact,
in the old pineapple days here generally no attention was
given to this matter, perhaps because Red Spanish do not
seem to require it as most other varieties do under certain
conditions. If the butt end of a sucker seems to be curing
well and is not more than five inches below good leaves the
writer sees no reason for cutting at trimming time. If
plants are not sufficiently cured, especially suckers, wet
weather immediately after planting may bring on a sour-
ing of the plant, beginning at the cut surface. If this is
discovered plants should be pulled up, the decayed parts
cut off and the butts left exposed to the weather for two
weeks or more until no souring substance appears under
the weathered surface when a nick is cut in for inspection.
R tffern ffr C.4as J fttornr for CantS
legy i s rm 5h
Cut- p;e 1s f li 5rnb
One may often get by without any trimming at all, but
before the roots manage to get through the leaves to the
ground, decay organisms may get started so that roots rot
by the time they have grown out an inch or so and the
plant begins to starve. This same condition more rarely
affects plants that have been carefully trimmed and cured.
If six or eight weeks after planting, some of the plants are
yellow or red, apparently starving, and inspection shows
PINEAPPLE A B C's
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
roots were sent out but have rotted, it is advisable to replace
with new plants or to re-trim and cure for an extended
period. If nothing is done, some of the plants may eventual-
ly grow anyway.
In handling suckers of soft leaved varieties and slips of
Sugar Loaf varieties care should be taken not to break off
the bud leaves.
Tops of suckers are sometimes trimmed off for shipping
or to keep large suckers from being blown over, but it is
better to leave foliage intact.
At present it seems to be a good idea to carefully fumi-
gate all planting material with methyl bromide before
bringing to a new field or where mealy bugs are evident on
plants. Do this before trimming. Allow gas to get out of
plants somewhat before trimming. (See Fumigation under
Wilt in Diseases.)
If plants are to be shipped or stored they should not be
trimmed first. Plants should be dry before being packed
and butts of suckers especially, should be to the outside of
the crate or pile. Suckers should be shipped in crates if to
go by common carrier. For carrying in trucks from place
to place it is convenient to tie into bundles. Slips, well
dried, may be shipped in burlap bags, but crates are better.
Wet plants, especially suckers, in piles are likely to heat.
The land has been marked and the plants prepared. 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 backward 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
PINEAjPPLE A B C's
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. For longer suckers
holes may have to be dug, especially if tops remain on plants.
It is said that in no case should even large suckers be planted
more than six inches deep. For the larger plants packing
the earth around each plant may prevent them from blow-
As to the pineapple fertilizing experiments up to 1920
(1) apparently no thought was given to the need for the
"minor elements," (2) no recognition was given to the
fact that pineapples generally need an acid soil.
The U. S. Department of Agriculture conducted further
experiments during the 1930's and has nothing to report,
so that it is with some trepidation that the writer will at-
tempt to orient the beginner.
In the first place, on most types of Florida soils it is sug-
gested that one should check the pH of his soil at regular
intervals. While it will vary with the seasons he must watch
that it does not work too high. Aside from using certain
fertilizing materials and mulches the pH on most soils may
be lowered by applying sulphur. For quickest results with
sulphur use a dust.
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 probably 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.
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
However in very dry weather with little dew, fertilizer in
the axils is of little value; on the ground, especially if scuf-
fled in, it has some chance of becoming available.
Fertilizers may burn plants in three ways. (1) The ap-
plication of such a concentrate as sulphate of ammonia by
itself 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 po-
mace, tobacco dust and cottonseed meal, will heat and cause
rotting of the tender part of leaves. Perhaps the tobacco
dust with nicotine removed is more likely to cause heating.
(3) Bluestone applied on the ground or by itself may cause
the tips of leaves to die back. Abakkas stand a good deal
of bluestone and even where burning is evident may soon
more than overcome any set back but Queens, in particular,
are injured. Copper may be safely applied as Bordeaux
dust or spray.
Pineapple plants in lush growth burn more easily than
when rather dormant.
Because fertilizing material is constantly varying in one
way or another it is wise to test any fertilizer or dust on a
few plants before applying to the whole field.
Sometimes inorganics applied in too concentrated a form
cause plants and fruit to exude a clear jelly.
One of the first materials to be used as fertilizer for
pineapples on the Florida keys and along the Indian River
was seaweed. Seaweed was raked into piles in the fall and
after it had dried the field was mulched heavily with it.
The analysis of seaweed (Atlantic City, N. J.) as given by
Fletcher is 1.69% nitrogen, .75% phosphoric acid, and
4.93% potash. While the analyses of seaweeds vary with
the season and as between varieties, the average analyses of
5 varieties at hand gives an average of 1.69-.40-3.50. Count-
PINEAPPLE A B C's
ing phosphoric acid as 1, Fletcher's figures give a relation-
ship, roughly, of 2-1-9. The average analysis cited gives
a relationship of about 4-1-6. Now the average analysis
of 50 Red Spanish pineapples grown at Jensen in experi-
mental plots, as reported by Miller and Blair, is .0707, .0423
and .2256 which is close to a 2-1-5 relationship, while the
average analysis of dried healthy plants in Porto Rico as
given by Gile is .73, .34 and 2.63, a relationship of about
2-1-8. Gile's figures for Mgo give .54% or almost twice
the amount of phosphoric acid and the figures at hand for
the five varieties of seaweed give about 2 2 times as much
Mgo as P205. As seaweeds contain considerable amounts
of calcium and the minor elements it is possible that a better
balanced or more suitable fertilizer for pineapples in Flor-
ida has never been used. The writer assumes that the way
to make pineapple plants most resistant to diseases as well
as to cold is to fertilize with such materials as will make
constantly available proper quantities of all the needed
Because under war restrictions it has been illegal for a
fertilizer factory to mix a fertilizer with a formula meet-
ing the writer's idea of a proper one for pineapples the
writer has investigated the possibilities in wastes available
in moderate quantities here and there but generally over-
looked. Accidentally discovering that plants to which
coffee grounds had been applied resisted disease and the bad
effects of too much water for nearly a year afterwards
especially well, he was able to use some tons of coffee grounds
secured from the local training base (U. S. Naval Am-
phibious Training Base).
Perhaps few organic materials will prove so suitable as
coffee grounds but the plant food will become available
gradually and certain amounts of the minor elements are
likely to be present. With inorganics there are tendencies
for the plant food to become available all at once, then to
leach away or become locked up. Fletcher, C. C., in'U.S.
D.A. Miscellaneous Publications No. 136, Conservation of
Fertilizer Materials from Minor Sources, on pages 5, 6 and 7
28 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
lists analyses of some 150 materials ranging from mud to
hair, of which the following may be of special interest in
Of course these figures must not be taken as exact for all
samples of each material.
PERCENTAGE COMPOSITION OF VARIOUS MATERIALS
Dried poultry manure --
Dried goat manure -- --
Coffee grounds (dried) -
Cottonseed hull ashes -
Duck manure (fresh) --
Field bean (seed) -
Fish scrap (fresh)- --
Gluten feed -- ---
Grapefruit skins (ash) --
Incinerator ash -- -
Lobster refuse- ---
Oak leaves -
Pigeon manure (fresh) -
Pine needles - -
Residuum from raw sugar - -
Shrimp heads (dried) -
Siftings from oyster-shell mound -
Soot from chimney flues -
Tea grounds -- -
Tobacco leaves -- -
Tobacco stalks -- -
Tobacco stems-- - -
Wheat, bran --- - -
Wheat, grain -
(Pineapple plants-dry-Fla. Ag.
Exp. Sta. Bul. 144, A. W. Blair)
7 to 10
2 to 7.5 1.5 to 6
4 to 5
5 to 11 1.05
15 to 30
SOURCES OF NITROGEN
On soils with more humus and fertility pineapples are
not so particular as to the sources of materials but it is
safer to use organic sources for nitrogen and phosphoric
acid too. The "synthetic organic" uramon with 42%o ni-
trogen when new, can be used in mixtures for quite a high
percentage of nitrogen but it has no traces of rare elements
to become gradually available. Neither has sulphate of
ammonia which has been rated as the best source of nitrogen
for pineapples in Hawaii and Australia. It doubtless de-
serves a place in our mixes. It produces a quick, lush but
healthy growth-it burns the leaves when placed in the
axils of the leaves in too high concentrations. It is especially
valuable at times because it quickly increases the acidity of
the soil-in other words it lowers the pH.
Nitrate of soda raises the pH of soils. It produces soft
off-color fruit but can be used on young fields to start
growth. It should be applied on the ground if it is to be used.
Cottonseed meal has long been a favorite in pineapple
mixes. It has enough phosphoric acid so that only potash
and magnesium need be added to make a balanced fertilizer
for pineapples. The writer avoids its use because it is so
attractive to ants. Perhaps someday we will be able to put
a little of some new "D" dust in the mix to make it just
the thing to destroy the ants.
Castor pomace is a good safe source of nitrogen and also
contains probably enough phosphoric acid to go with it.
Castor pomace long had a reputation as an insecticide and
mole repellant but to the writer it seems that few batches
today have much potency in these respects.
Dried blood, blood and bone and bone meal are excellent
sources of nitrogen. These and fish meal, sewage sludge,
tankage, bird guano, bat guano, etc., also supply phosphoric
acid and should be quite suitable.
Stable manures carry too many weed seed and from
barn yards will probably bring nematodes into the field.
PINEAPPLE A B C's
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
OTHER SOURCES OF PHOSPHORIC ACID
The old bulletins recommend bone meal and slag phos-
phate. Slag contains magnesium which may explain why
it showed up so well in the experiments. It also contains
some manganese and a great deal of calcium. Acid phos-
phate was not recommended for use on the ridge. Where
the formula calls for only one or two per cent phosphoric
acid it can be used on flatwoods land provided the land
contains little lime. But on lands with a pH above 5.5 it
seems to aggravate the tendency to chlorosis. In higher
concentrations it may cause a jelly to exude. It contains a
good deal of calcium. Whether or not this ever becomes
available seems to be a moot question.
SOURCES OF POTASH
"High grade" sulphate of potash and "low grade" sul-
phate of potash were recommended, especially the latter,
which we now call sulphate of potash-magnesia. The "low
grade" sulphate of potash however never seemed to be very
popular with pineapple growers, because of its name, the
writer has no doubt, no impurities for them-only high
grade material was good enough for their pineapples! The
writer has used muriate wit out untoward effects but he
has never used it in the fall because some experiments indi-
cated that it produced less resistance to cold than other
materials. Ground tobacco stems alone in the fall gave
the greatest resistance to cold (Miller and Blair). The
writer suspects that any fertilizer largely organic that will
give plants a good color without inducing a lush growth,
and having about the same ratios of nitrogen and potash to
phosphoric acid as the tobacco stems will give about the
same resistance to cold injury.
SOURCES OF MAGNESIUM AND CALCIUM
As a source of magnesium, dolemitic limestone has the
great advantage that it becomes available slowly. As it
contains a good deal of calcium it is also valuable where
this element is lacking but where the pH is already high it
should be avoided. Magnesium sulfate and sulfate of pot-
ash-magnesia are used.
It is suggested that pineapples grown near ocean water
receive in the spray blown inland appreciable quantities
of plant food. Clark writes: "It has been observed that,
up to a certain point, pineapples are larger and better the
nearer they are grown to the sea." Aside from the moder-
ating influence of the sea upon the climate it is logical to
suppose that the salt spray which is noticeable principally
as a corrosive agent along oceans and the Indian River, in
providing considerable amounts of magnesium, some boron
and traces of copper, manganese and zinc as well as many
other elements, contributes much to the vigor and quality
of pineapples. One effect of storms accompanied by heavy
rains is to wash out available plant food. In stormy weather
the supply of salt spray is usually greatest.
Mr. W. E. Rather, Director, U. S. Geological Survey,
in a letter to the writer calculates from figures given by
H. V. Sverdrup and others in the book, The Oceans, Their
Physics, Chemistry, and General Biology, (Prentice-Hall,
Inc., New York, 1942) pages 176-177, "the total percent-
age of the dissolved constituents of ocean water, taking
sulfur as the sulfate radicle (S04) and carbon as the car-
bonate radicle (CO3) is 3.45, on a water free basis." This
3.45% of ocean water is the "salt" we find on ourselves
after a dip in the surf. Over a 30th of the drop of spray
is "salt." Now 3.69% of this "salt" may be magnesium-
not magnesium oxide, but magnesium. While the per-
centages are averages they are representative. Over one
per cent of this salt is calcium and over one per cent potash
and the figure for boron is .013%. (The importance of
boron in pineapple culture was brought to the writer's at-
tention by Mr. W. R. Briggs of Ft. Pierce.)
PINEAPPLE A -B C's
32 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
THE MINOR ELEMENTS
The grower with just a small patch of pineapples, espe-
cially if he uses fertilizers from organic sources mostly, can
probably get along very well without worrying about the
application of the trace elements. However, if one is going
into the business on a commercial scale, or if growth is
not satisfactory in the small plot, test applications of one
element at a time should be made to determine which ones
The chances are good that applications of copper now
and then will promote vigor and growth. Applications in
the form of Bordeaux spray or dust are safe and satisfac-
tory. Apply dust when plants are wet with dew. A half
of 1% of copper sulphate in the fertilizer is reasonably safe.
Abakkas will stand three times that. Queens are especially
sensitive to copper and will stand only small amounts of
the sulphate without lime.
Authorities recommend the application of iron in the
form of iron sulphate. Applied as a light spray or dusted
on when plants are wet, it may cause some spot burning
of fruit especially, but spot burns on foliage are of no im-
portance. On hardpan land the writer is not convinced
that his plants need iron. If chlorosis (yellowing of the
leaf) due to the presence of too much calcium carbonate
in the soil develops, spraying with iron sulphate or applying
sulphite crystals to the ground may give relief (Gile). Iron
oxide seems to do no good and in some cases iron sulphate
applied to the ground has done no good.
The writer has seen plants on hardpan land respond
notably to applications of boron dusted on at the rate of
from five to twenty pounds per acre.
MANGANESE AND ZINC
The writer has thought that spraying or dusting with
high grade spraying manganese sulphate inclined some fruit
to color properly. The writer generally applies a little zinc
sulphate along with other dusts just to be on the safe side.
With dusting mixtures the writer includes sulphur in
order to help maintain soil acidity and control red spider
as well as to make a better dust.
When pineapples are not responding to fertilizers pro-
perly a dust made up of the following will be found safe
to apply per acre when plants are wet with dew:
10 lbs. Bordeaux dust
4 lbs. Boron
1 lb. Manganese sulphate, high grade
1 lb. Zinc sulphate
10 lbs. Sulphur
If there are no fruit 5 pounds of iron sulphate may be
added-if fruit, some burning of fruit may result where
Of course, each item should be carefully screened before
mixing, and mixing must be thorough for best results.
If fertilizer is to be applied in axils of leaves this dust
mixture can be included, but that produces a concentration
of burning forces at the plant's tenderest part.
On the sand ridge pineapple lands in the old pineapple
days, the planter would put a handful of fertilizer in the
bud of each plant (400 to 1000 pounds per acre) right
after planting in order to prevent the bud filling with sand
and to remove any sand already blown in. The fertilizer
cakes, forming a plug which includes the sand already in,
and which is pushed out as the bud leaves grow. This bud-
PINEAPPLE A B C's
34 DEPARTMENT OFU AGRICULTURE
ding fertilizer consisted of cottonseed meal and ground
tobacco stems, or of these and castor pomace. The writer
has observed a greater tendency for such a mix to heat and
burn the bud leaves if the nicotine has been removed from
the tobacco stems. One reason for the use of tobacco form-
erly was to control the red spider and mealy bugs (Vosbury
& Winston, pp. 26-27), and Dr. Westgate's observations
support this-so it is recommended that grades of tobacco
dust "with nicotine" be used. Cottonseed meal attracts
ants, even in such a mix, so that the writer does not use it
around pineapples. Castor pomace by itself or coffee
grounds alone serve the purpose of the budding application
if an insecticide is not needed. Large slips and suckers need
not be "budded," regular fertilizer can be applied in axils
Of the fertilizers which it is legal for fertilizer plants to
manufacture under present (1945) war restrictions the
4-4-8 and the 6-4-8 are the only ones that approximate a
pineapple fertilizer in the writer's opinion. If suitable ma-
terials are used they should be satisfactory for young pine-
apples not yet bearing, judging from formulas that have
been used. In buying mixed fertilizers or in mixing fertil-
izers for pineapples the effect of the mix upon the pH of
the soil should be kept in mind. A muck filler helps main-
For the fall application, for plants about to bear, and for
general use if only one formula is to be used the writer
prefers a 5-2-10, or even a -1-10 with about 3% mag-
nesium oxide. Mr. Henry C. Henricksen states: "The
phosphorus requirements of the pineapple plant is another
one of its strange idiosyncrasies. It grows and fruits nor-
mally with less than 5 parts per million of phosphorus in the
soil and more than 5 or 10 parts per million of readily avail-
able phosphorus retards the growth." His recommendations
are based on analyses of soils from fields showing plant
growth ranging from poor to excellent.
On the sand ridges pineapples were fertilized at rates of
from 2000 to 4000 pounds per acre per year, but in 1918
one fertilizer company announced that they produced
pineapples at the least cost per crate by using 7000 pounds.
Most growers applied the fertilizer in two, three or four
applications but maximum results are obtained by appli-
cations in the axils of the lower leaves every month or six
weeks during the growing season, provided there is fair
rainfall. However, this is not to be continued after the
fruit has passed the flower stage. The crop should be "laid
by" then, no more fertilizer and no more cultivation until
the crop is removed or basal cracks are likely to appear,
and the writer thinks the quality and flavor of the fruit
will be injured.
Due to the high cost of labor it is probably most eco-
nomical to make only about three applications on bearing
fields: one upon removal of cover or in February or March,
one right after picking the summer crop and one in No-
vember. In case of excessive rains or flood conditions it is
suggested that at least a light application of fertilizer be
given as soon as ground regains a friable condition, particu-
larly if fertilizers have been largely inorganic.
Except during the cold season and as noted above every
effort should be made to keep the plants growing rapidly.
Broad leaves indicate vigor. But one should not fertilize
too heavily until very sure that his fertilizer is uniform and
As cautioned elsewhere, in planting a considerable field
the waterfurrows should be designed with an eye to keeping
them clean with machinery. Close up work in the pine-
apple field is done with a scuffle hoe. The best scuffle hoe
can be made by your blacksmith using ten or twelve inches
of a grass cutter ("Lazy Boy") blade, securely 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
PINEAPPLE A B C's
56 DEPARTMENT OIJ AGRICULTURE
for spears, about eight feet long, is desirable. In scuffling
pines the emphasis is not just on cultivation but also on
killing weeds. On sand soils with young Red 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 ore than half an inch deep.
Fields should be kept clean of weeds.
On mature fields it is sometimes possible to get by with
one general scuffling and cleaning out a year, in August,
possibly later. Spring scuffling plants crabgrass and other
seed 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.
Polk berry and other large weeds must be pulled up from
time to time. It is to be hoped that one of the new selective
weed killers will work on Wandering Jew, wild cucumber
and Balsam pear (mock cucumber, with yellow fruit and
red seed). A heavy mulch of grass or other material is in-
valuable in keeping down weeds.
On well prepared land afteI 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 at-
tached 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 plants.
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.
PINEAPPLE A B C's
MAINTAINING A FIELD
When one reads that a pineapple field has borne con-
tinuously for twenty-five years-or ten-it is not to be
understood that every plant remaining has been there for
that length of time. To maintain a field one must fill in
as plants sicken and die.
Suckers should be used for filling in as the slip does not
have a chance to get started among big neighbors. In filling
in, if good mature suckers can be found close at hand just
give them a minimum trimming and stick them in. Unless
the ground is very dry they are likely to root out very
quickly, overcoming any tendency to decay.
If slips left on stalks after picking are not to be used for
planting they should be broken off so that the energy of
the plant can go into ratoons or suckers for the next crop.
Sometimes suckers get so thick that it will pay to thin out
a field leaving healthy plants as close to ground as possible.
In South Africa an iron hook with a wooden handle is used
for pulling off suckers. There they pull off suckers that
have borne fruit, in case of the Natal. If one attempts to
save fall slips for spring planting, one should give them a
little tobacco dust and watch out for red spider.
Precautions should be taken against fire getting into
mature fields as they burn furiously. Sparks from the rail-
road caused frequent fires on the ridge in the old days. Four
foot firebreaks around every acre are recommended in one
In Hawaii pineapples are usually planted with an asphalt
impregnated paper mulch (Johnson). A black building
paper is used. This conserves moisture, available plant food
and heat as well as suppressing weeds. It is credited with
increasing the yield of fruit 15 to 25 % and the vegetative
production 20 to 25%.
The writer tried a strip of paper mulch just once. Re-
38 DEPARTMENT OF, AGRICULTURE
suits were not encouraging. He has heard of no other ex-
periments with it in Florida except in the alkaline areas of
Dade County. As mentioned before Dr. Westgate finds
the pH under paper a point power than where there is no
mulch. In these areas it doubtless has great value too in
the conservation of moisture and the prevention of leach-
ing. On acid soils with good moisture, in the absence of
nematode pests it may prove of little value other than its
utility in keeping down weeds while plants get started.
In Hawaii the ground is thoroughly prepared, the land
marked off, fertilizer distributed on the place where the
paper is to lay and the fertilizer is worked into the soil.
Soil is placed on the ends and sides of the paper as it is laid
to prevent the breeze from taking a hand in the matter.
A kind of iron dibble is used to pierce the paper and open
the holes for plants.
Weeds that come up through the holes in the paper are
pulled by hand and the space between paper is cultivated
with mule and a cultivator-level culture being general.
It was accidentally discovered that exposing pineapple
plants to smoke caused them to bloom. Rodriguez in 1932
reported on experiments with smoke and ethylene gas.
Smoke from a smudge was confined under a muslin tent
about four feet high. He found a heavy or light concen-
tration of smoke from 6:00 1p.m. to 6:00 a.m. will induce
bloom which appears in about six weeks.
Slips and suckers treated with ethylene gas flowered six
months before the normal time.
Varieties differ in their responsiveness to the calcium
carbide treatment. Two granules of granulated calcium
carbide dropped in the bud of the plant when.water is pres-
ent has induced bloom in Santa Martas. With varieties less
responsive the carbide-ice water method will give results.
In 1936, on July 14th, a patent No. 2,047,874 was grant-
PINEAPPLE A B C's
ed to Kenneth R. Kerns, Wahiawa, T. H., on methods of in-
ducing bloom in pineapples by using acetylene as a gas
mixed with air or mixing acetylene with water.
On the same date a patent No. 2,037,203 was issued to
Walter A. Wendt and assigned to the Hawaiian Pineapple
Co., Ltd., of Honolulu, T. H., covering methods of apply-
ing "solid" calcium carbide adjacent the growing point of
The writer has the permission of the Hawaiian Pine-
apple Company, Ltd., to describe a method he devised
which comes under this company's patent.
Water at freezing temperature will absorb about twice
as much acetylene gas as at summer temperature. A little
granulated calcium carbide dropped into a small amount
of water apparently causes it to boil furiously and does
heat it considerably. But if the carbide is dropped into the
same amount of ice water, while it still appears to cause
boiling the water may not reach even a warm temperature.
In brief, the method consists in applying ice water and
granulated carbide in the bud of the plant, the ice water
at the rate of one gallon to fifty plants and carbide at the
rate of one pound to 600 or more plants, just a pinch to
each. Best results are obtained in cool weather, at night,
or a cool part of the day. With large plants of most varie-
ties under these conditions 95% to 100% respond to one
treatment. With Red Spanish the percentage is likely to
be only about 70% and with Brazilian Scarlet about 50%.
When the air temperature reaches 850 or above, the re-
sponse will be poor. Rainfall two hours or more after treat-
ment will have little effect on results according to one test.
If too much carbide is used the tips of bud leaves will be
burned and no bloom will result. Plants here and there
will not produce bloom but will be stimulated to rapid
growth. The calcium residue clings to the leaves of the
plants and conveniently marks the treated plants. This
white marking will often remain for two months or so.
For field use take a 55-gallon drum open at one end. Fill
40 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
it three-fourths full of water and wrap it well with sacking
or tarpaulins (if weather is warm). Put 100 pounds of ice
in and break it up with a pick. When water temperature
in the drum reaches 500 it may be used.
For applying the water use the reservoir of a knapsack
sprayer. Fix an outlet in the bottom of it at one side. At-
tach about 3 feet of /8" rubber hose (syringe size). Im-
provise a wooden clamp to fit over hose near end to shut off
water by pressure. Insulate by covering reservoir with
rubber coated or tarred burlai. Carry this on the back and
apply with right hand.
For applying the carbide take a quart tin can with a
screw top. Make an outlet in the screw cap and attach
about a foot of the same kind of hose. Make a small hole
near the bottom of the can, pin size. Fill can with carbide,
screw on top, arrange a sling to carry this about the neck,
top down, controlling the outflow of carbide with finger
of left hand.
It seems to make no difference whether carbide or ice
water falls in bud first.
Treating individual plants in this way has the advantage
over a tent gassing method that small plants are not treated.
A peculiarity of the method is that small plants infrequent-
ly respond even if treated.
The writer failed to make a crop one fall by depending
on the following method. Ppt 30 gallons of water into a
55-gallon drum that can be closed tightly. Introduce 12 oz.
of granulated calcium carbide, close drum and agitate by
rolling and shifting drum until agitation from the reaction
stops-perhaps it should be kept up for 10 minutes. Then
draw off and apply. Using no ice the writer secured very
poor results. The next season he used ice water with this
method and results were about the same as with the pinch
of carbide method. But as acetylene gas under pressure is
highly explosive, the preparation is exacting, and no mark
is left on the plant treated, the writer has reverted to his
original method as being more satisfactory.
Bloom normally appears about six weeks after treat-
ment but with fastest growing varieties under best grow-
ing conditions it has apparently shown within four weeks
or less; however a check can be made about ten days after
treatment. To do this pull off some of the lower leaves of
a plant that was treated. Cut the stem of the plant off
horizontally at what you judge is an inch or so from the top
of the stem. Cut the leaves off horizontally a little above
the growing point of the stem. Then with a sharp blade
split this little cylinder through the center. 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 illustrations.
Cure bulge ~ icrve,
-.lory e tls t s 7T0
,'sec ed "'Viryin 1 4 -i- SecqTon of 7 p ia-t- in /,wi'ch
bloom waS induced some
ten dicys prevl/os-ly
The period from "smoking" (as this inducing of bloom
may be called) to maturity of fruit at the most favorable
time of the year varies from 4/2 months or less with Red
Spanish, Queens and certain other varieties to seven months,
apparently, for the Sugar Loaf. Winchester 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 A B C's
DEPARTMENT CF AGRICULTURE
A few days difference in treatment in July may result in
weeks difference in maturity, depending on temperatures
in October and later.
As to best seasons for having fruit mature see discussion
Florida growers should allow fruit to show color before
picking as the possibility of doing this is at present our
great advantage over foreign competition. As noted be-
fore, sugar from other parts of the plant is added to the
fruit principally during the ripening process. With most
varieties however the writer has found it impractical to
allow fruit to color fully as insects and rodents become
too active and fruit is not fit for shipment. The Red Span-
ish can be allowed to color pretty well all over if desired.
In cool weather shipping fruit should be allowed to color
better and might well be packed when fruit is as warm as
possible. In hot weather fruit should be cool when packed.
Some varieties may usually be picked by breaking the
fruit off, but now and then one will "plug", that is, break
off up in the fruit, so that when fruit is very valuable it
pays to cut each fruit. Wheni beds are wide one man picks
and tosses fruit to man with a wheelbarrow. When crown
holds moisture from rain and dew it is customary for hand-
lers in the field to give each iruit a vigorous shake to drive
Tender varieties should be laid in field crates carefully.
A convenient method of protecting tender fruit in the field
crates is to have a supply of pieces of burlap of the right
size. Lay one piece on the bottom of field crate and one
between each layer. Fruit should not be piled high. The
Western Lettuce crate makes a practical field crate but the
ideal would have wire sides so that the butts of fruit would
be curing in sunlight from the moment of picking. In
packing house bins fruit should be laid with butts elevated
to promote further drying. If weather is damp and cloudy
the cut stems should be "painted" with a solution of saly-
cilic or benzoic acid, alcohol and water within two hours
of picking in order to prevent possible decay or black rot.
Bratley and Mason give this formula:
Alcohol (95%) - - ---32 cc
Water ---------- 68 cc
Benzoic Acid - - 2.5 grams
The writer uses salycilic acid. Make a stock solution of
salycilic acid 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 the hands and wrists it quickly cures the little blisters
often caused by handling pineapples.
It will facilitate packing if fruit are placed in bins ac-
cording to sizes and grades as they are removed from the
It seems that the first commercial shipments of pine-
apples 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 a barrel capacity. What was first known as
the standard "Florida crate" and today the "Cuban crate"
holds about 1.9 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.
The weight of fruit varies somewhat. A crate should be
filled snugly to prevent fruit from bruising each other.
Long type pineapples like the Abakkas were laid length-
PINEA.PPLE A B C's
44 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
wise for sizes up to 24's. 30's could usually be packed
In recent years a Jumbo edition of this crate has been
used for shipping Abakkas in excelsior. The two bushel
Western Lettuce crate has been used recently, but it is
heavy to handle. The one bpshel crate half as deep as the
two bushel W. L. crate holds a third more large size pine-
apples than the one bushel potato crate, a difference the
markets do not adequately recognize. Otherwise this crate
would be about the ideal for packing with excelsior or
\. --- .:
s;.? ^ r,
.. : ..
Where excelsior is used for packing, strong cartons with-
out ventilation carry pineapples satisfactorily.
It is the writer's experience that the tomato lug is the
most satisfactory containers for fancy varieties anyway.
On good markets the fruit brings a premium in these con-
tainers. The pliable covers simplify making a snug pack.
Moreover the containers are relatively easy to get. If new
lugs are used the writer makes the lugs with the ends turned
inside out, but when second hand ones are used they are
left as made for tomatoes. A lug should hold about twenty
pounds of fruit but sometimes fruit runs light for its size
and sometimes heavy. Each fruit is protected on the butt
by excelsior and at all other points of pressure by excelsior
or crowns of other fruit. The best grade obtainable of
excelsior or woodwool should be used. In some areas Span-
ish moss might be practical, if pains are taken to remove
twigs, etc. Other fibers not readily subject to mold can
Lug packs used by the writer are as follows:
AV. WT. NUMBER
PER FRUIT FRUIT
IN POUNDS PER LUG
HOW LAID LAYER
4 lengthwise 2, with butts
5 crosswise 2, with butts in
3 Y2 6 (short fruit) crosswise
3 /2 6 (long fruit) lengthwise
3, with butts in
3, with butts
8 crosswise 4, butts in
10 crosswise 5, butts in
12 crosswise 6, butts in
14 crosswise 7, butts in
2, with butts
at other end
3, with butts
at other side
3, with butts
at other side
3, with butts
4, butts in
5, butts in
6, butts in
7, butts in
16 Pack as if lug were divided into halves, pack
each half like an "8"
PINEAPPL.~ r LE A B C'ss
46 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
One grower produces pineapples and gives no thought to
marketing them until they are about ready to pick. Prepa-
rations for disposing of the crop should be made before-
hand so that it will not be ne essary to just dump the fruit
on some unready or erratic market. And it may be noted
here that the seaboard cities are not reliable and generally
offer low prices. They are used to getting shipments direct
from the Indies and are accustomed to paying low prices.
Besides this the Florida shipper never knows when his ship-
ment will arrive on a glutted market.
During 1939 and 1940 nearly 90% of the fresh pine-
apples imported into the United States arrived before July
1. From the latter part of June until the middle of August
Florida pineapples usually do quite well on the markets.
Another good marketing season is from November 1 to
Florida pineapples should be grown and sold as superior
in flavor, quality and sweetness and for this reason open
field fruit, at least, should not be brought on in cold weath-
er. Not only does winter fruit lack the sweetness of summer
fruit, even in Hawaii, but in Florida cold temperatures,
short of frosts, may utterly destroy the flavor and sound-
ness of pineapples.
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 De-
partment of Agriculture, F1uit Storage Investigations, as
quoted by Clark, says,
"Storage investigations reveal that pineapple can not be
stored at temperatures below, 450 F.... At 40 F. and under,
disorganization of the cells and tissues take place . At
temperatures of 45 F. and above, normal ripening pro-
ceeds 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 deteriora-
tion. The need of selection is stressed." The present writer
suggests that fertilization may be a factor.
Cold waves in Florida affect fruit in the field. Appar-
ently at certain borderline temperatures the flavor of fruit
is injured but fruit ripening a few weeks later in warm
weather may have fair flavor. At lower temperatures the
above mentioned disorganization takes place.
For shipments by ship in this country "ventilated hold"
is recommended instead of refrigeration. There may be a
future in "quick freezing" of the Florida product.
SIZES OF FRUIT AND THE MARKET
Formerly on most markets the larger sized pineapples
sold better per crate than the smaller sizes. For instance,
Miller and Blair in 1906 give as fair net receipts:
18's per crate - - $1.80
24's & 30's per crate - 1.65
36's per crate - - 1.30
42's per crate - - 1.10
SToday the larger sizes often sell for less per crate than
Miller and Blair produced Red Spanish on their best ex-
perimental plot at Jensen at the rate of 53712 crates per
acre. In one instance a ten year old, ten acre field of Red
Spanish on the river front south of Ft. Pierce produced
3000 crates or 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 Abakkas
PINEAPPLE A B C's
-such a yield would amount to 20 tons. The first crop
is expected to be the best. Abakka fields may hold up well
for two, three or four crops, rarely longer. The compara-
tively disease resistant Red Spanish will hold up consider-
ably better, in record instance s having held up for twenty-
five and twenty-six years.
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; 5. Abakka.
Flavor, size and vigor depend upon soil, fertilizer, cul-
ture, climate, etc. Unless otherwise stated the seasons given
below are for St. Lucie Couhty in a normal year. Drouth
and cold weather delay maturity. Seasons farther south
are a little earlier, and in central Florida are later (Rade-
The Smooth Cayenne is the most important variety,
world-wide. 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 excel-
lent canner. The season in Florida is given as from June to
Smooth Cayenne fruit-Photograph by D. S. Radebaugh,
Lakeview Pineapple Plantations, Sebring, Florida.
This Smooth Cayenne was once grown under sheds at
Punta Gorda, St. Petersburg, Orlando and elsewhere in
Florida. In open field culture in Florida it did not hold up
well. It is the variety grown in Hawaii and the leading
variety in Queensland.
Recently a "white" fleshed Cayenne has been introduced
into Florida from Mexico. According to Mr. Scott U.
Stambaugh this strain is adapted to high dry land and land
with a higher pH than the Abakka. Radebaugh describes
this as a very vigorous strain, well suited to Florida condi-
tions, flatwoods, etc., producing slips well and strong suck-
ers. In addition to being white-fleshed this strain has a
markedly drooping habit so that Dr. Philip J. Westgate
-7 ~ :"
X a~9) Bf ~~~~- -E
e:: _4_0% W`69 i
_1V* P; ;
markedly drooping habit so that Dr. Philip J. Westgate
PINEAPPL ~ ~ IE A B C'ss
50 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Red Spanish fruit. These Red Spanish plants grown on hardpan
soil have almost no "stickers." As grown by the writer on hardpan
land they ,ack flavor.
41 top-i~a 9
PINEAPPLE A B C's
reports that someone has suggested that it may be the
"White Mexican Guatemala" variety.
Second in worldwide importance is the Red Spanish, the
leading variety of Cuba, Porto Rico and 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 up-
wards of twenty-five years. A nice sized fruit of this va-
riety is a three pounder (a "twenty-four," i.e. twenty-four
to the crate) but they may make up to six pounds. The
white flesh is firm with strong fiber and excellent flavor.
It is an excellent shipper. The season is May and June.
From "smoking" to mature fruit is 4 2 months up. Propa-
gation is mostly by slips. It appears to tolerate a slightly
higher pH than Abakkas, up to 6 on flatwoods soil, and
will not stand such a low pH as the Abakka. It is quite
resistant to mealy bug wilt. The writer has been unable
to produce good flavored fruit of this variety on flatwoods
Of third importance is the Queen, the leading variety
in South Africa and of importance in Australia. This is
yellow fleshed, sweet, not quite so juicy as most varieties.
It has a distinctive aroma, crisp flesh, tender core. In the
writer's experience this variety shows less variation in qual-
ity than most varieties. The eyes are often small and point-
ed making the fruit have a somewhat immature appear-
ance 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
"smoking." Propagation is generally by sucker.
The Egyptian Queen, introduced at Canaveral in 1870,
was well known in Florida for a time but is now almost
extinct. The fruit weighs from 2 to 4 pounds.
The Natal Queen, also called just "Natal," is small, 1 V
to 2 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
52 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
or so, the grower may induce bloom to have 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 a 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-sometimes in double rows. After the
fifth year they recommend plowing annually.
The writer prefers to plant suckers the normal distance
then after the first crop is made, thin out, a sharp, square
pointed shovel being the best! tool for this.
Abacaxi (white Abacaxi do Pernambuco, Pernambuco,
apparently identical with Eleuthera, English) is generally
spoken of as having white flesh but there is a slightly yel-
low tinge to the ripe fruit. A perfect fully ripe specimen
has such a rich fragrance, is so sweet, so juicy and has so de-
licious a flavor that about seven people out of ten who taste
it consider it the most delicious pineapple they have ever
tasted. It averages smaller tlhan the Abakka but specimens
sometimes weigh 5 pounds. The core is often little more
than a tough string running through it. Like the Queen it
may have rather small pointed eyes some seasons and much
larger and quite smooth ones at other seasons. In general the
sides are quite straight but vase shaped fruit with wide
"shoulders" are common and sometimes fruit are quite glob-
ular. Double and multiple crowns are common and double
slips occur now and then. Slips never grow from the base
of the fruit as with the Abakka. Stambaugh says of the
English that they average six plantable slips per fruit in the
Bahamas but almost never more than one sucker or ratoon.
The writer has seen the Abacaxi suckers become too thick
here so that a much better crop was secured after a good
thinning out. Under a regime of forcing fall bloom after
a voluntary summer bloom in recent years the plants are
not making slips or suckers so freely but this is one of the
two varieties that do produce slips with induced bloom (in
the writer's experience).
The crown is rather stiff as a rule, the tips of the leaves
tending to come close together. The leaves of the plant are
of rather a bluish green except in the bud where there is a
tendency to a purplish red tinge.
This is a tender shipper. The season is from the middle
of June to August, normally it takes about six months from
"smoking" to mature fruit but it seems especially variable
in this respect, being especially reluctant to mature in cold
weather and once in the writer's experience maturing in
four and a half months.
When conditions are right it is a very vigorous grower
and holds up better than the Abakka. In the open field it
will sunburn even when erect so each fruit should be staked
and leaves of the plant should be included in the tie to shade
the fruit pretty well all around.
This variety can usually be picked without a knife,
breaking smoothly just below the fruit.
Abakka (Abachi, Abbachi, Abaka, Golden Abachi),
one of the most important varieties in Florida today, is
the common pineapple in Dutch Guiana and the writer
suspects that this is the same as the yellow Abacaxi do Per-
nambuco of Brazil. One outstanding virtue is that it with-
holds bloom until late so that it usually stands late frosts
better than most other varieties. Season, July; 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 "smoking"-see under
"Inducing Bloom." The Abakka commonly has slips at-
tached 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. Staking, especially around the
edge of the fields, is often necessary.
PINEAT]PLE A B C's
54 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
- :x "--" --, "~ -, %- _- e
A nice Abakka.
Cabezona (Porto Rican),j 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 susceptible to disease.
Congo is a practically wilq 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 the other light green.
The bright red bloom is very ornamental for an extended
period. Multiple and rosettd crowns and slips are common
and practically all slips grow out of base of 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 are not covered there is a tendency for the cores to
crack, ruining that portion of the fruit above the crack.
Staking is usually necessary in the open as the weight of
crown and slips is often considerable. The fruit weighs
?lo akea ditintio the I~tr ha usd te tem "onI
PINEAPPLE A B C's
up to five pounds rarely. The eyes are usually large. There
is 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 yellow flesh is very
well flavored and ripens all the way to the crown. The
ripe fruit has a shiny waxed appearance, especially some-
times in the fall. Sometimes the eyes are deep. With some
selection a very good strain should be obtained from this
very showy variety.
The season is from about July 15 to August 15. From
"smoking" to maturity the period is about 412 months.
The Sugar Loaf gets its name from the resemblance of
its shape to that of the loaf of brown sugar in Latin Ameri-
can 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 fruit can be pulled out easily the fruit is good to eat.
When the fruit approaches maturity it must be watched
with special care that cut worms are not eating holes in it
-on sides or shoulder of this fruit. Because of the numer-
ous slips it is often difficult to tell when it is ready for
distant shipment. If the under side 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 men-
tioned as there are a few in the state hardly distinguishable
by their blackness before ripening from the Sugar Loaf
from Cuba. The writer has not been able to produce a
Sugar Loaf weighing more than 3 pounds, running usually
DEPATMEN OF GRICLTUR
- .. tr
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
around 1 2 to 2 pounds. 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
All fruit of the Sugar Loaf varieties do not always con-
form to the typical cone shape, sometimes being quite
globular in shape, but large eyes and a lack of smoothness
are the general rule.
Wild Brazilialz (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 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 inedible but now
discovers that when cut at just the right stage it has a rich,
syrupy juice, sweet all the way up so that it may prove
unsurpassed for juice stand use. The catch seems to be
that it stays at the edible stage a very short time.
The other pineapples in this list are classified as ananas
sativzs (Lindl.) but this variety is classified as ananas
Besides these mentioned there are many strains and more
names, from the Ananas Michrostachys, another wild Bra-
zilian with a fruit about half the size of a man's thumb, to
the Ananassa Bracamorensis, said to weigh as much as 25
to 30 pounds (Johnson).
DISEASES, ENEMIES, ETC.
One cause often given for the failure of pineapple fields
on the Indian River is that the soil under clean culture had
been depleted of humus. In 1903 Miller and Hume analyzed
a sample of soil from the Hardee Brothers field, "good
quality of scrub pine land, oak scrub underbrush with an
occasional hickory," (virgin soil just cleared). They found
this soil to be 99.121% insoluble matter, Si02 and to con-
PINEAPPLE A B C's
58 DEPARTMENT F AGRICULTURE
tain .2825% humus. Blair estimates a four year old field
of Red Spanish plants to contain 13 /2 tons of dry material.
As the pineapple plants cover most of the soil and older
leaves, fruit stalks and roots are constantly rotting it is
inconceivable that there wo ld be less humus at any period
after planting if only fruit and slips are removed.
Black heart is a term often applied to an interior break-
down of the fruit due to protracted cold temperatures
either in the field or in storage. See under Refrigeration.
Black rot or soft rot is a rot sometimes caused when fruit
is picked in wet weather, said to be due to a fungus. To
protect fruit picked in warm wet weather paint stem where
cut with benzoic or salycilic acid solution. See under Har-
vesting. Alcohol itself has some efficacy. Probably some
day the stem ends will be exposed to some light ray in a
drying room before packing.
Chlorosis is a yellowing of the plant, in Florida generally
due to a high concentration of calcium carbonate in the
soil. On soils near the critical point the addition of dole-
mitic limestone, slag phosphate, superphosphate and other
fertilizers increasing the allkalinity may bring on chlorosis.
Spraying with iron sulphate is recommended but when it
is possible to lower the pH by using a mulch, by applying
sulphate of ammonia or dusting sulphur, these latter will
be found more satisfactory. See under "Growing Pine-
apples on Alakaline Soils.'" The writer doubts that any
practice will suffice in a decidedly damp marl soil. It is
best to avoid soils with an initial pH above that recom-
mended. Unless special steps are contemplated the writer
would recommend a pH bf no more than 6.0 for Red
Spanish, Sugar Loaf and Abacaxi and from Mr. Stambaugh
the writer understands that the Mexican White-fleshed
Smooth is one that stands a relatively high pH. These
varieties grow on soils of a higher pH but local experience
must be the guide due to local differences in type of soil,
moisture conditions and perhaps other factors. The writer
would not try Abakkas on hatwoods soils with a pH above
PINEAPPLE A B C's
Core crack, found sometimes in Red Spanish, often in
the "Congo Red" and Santa Marta may be caused by hot,
dry weather. Shade or a little moss over each fruit in time
will save it. Breezy locations may not be affected.
Crows sometimes bite into the shoulders of pineapples.
If the grower does not leave poison in these holes or take
other effective measures promptly his crop may be ruined
in a day or so.
Curving of the plant sometimes occurs when plants are
about half grown. The plants usually outgrow it.
Cutworms, or a similar worm, sometimes eat holes in the
bases of fruit nearing maturity-on the shoulders or sides
of the Sugar Loaf. As soon as this is observed cutworm bait
should be sprinkled lightly around each fruit weekly. If
calcium or lead arsenate are used as the poison,,lime should
be mixed with them before adding the bran or the crown,
plant and fruit may be burned. Probably Paris green
should not be used at all. In case of prepared baits one
should try them first on a few poor plants to see if they
burn. On pineapple plants cutworm bait is very effective
as it slides down the leaves to the base of the fruit stalk up
which the worm must climb. The writer has observed
these cutworms regularly in late summer when there is
crotalaria adjacent to pineapples and there only.
Mealy bug-see under WILT.
The Palmetto beetle, Rhynchophorus cruentatus (Fab.),
enters the bud of the plant and lays eggs in the young fruit
stalk and fruit especially. The bud leaves and fruit are
often badly shredded. Sometimes the injury immediately
affects only one side of the fruit stalk and the fruit may
develop, usually lopsided. This is the large beetle, black,
and black and red, that works through rotten palmetto
logs. Such logs should be removed to a distance of a hun-
dred yards or so from the pineapple field, in which case
any damage from this beetle will be very rare.
Rabbits, especially where plants are covered as with grass
60 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
or palm fans in the winter, often eat the leaves off the
plants from the ground up to as high as they can reach.
Dusting when dew is on with 20-20-60 (copper, arsenic,
lime) just before covering seemed to prevent this.
Rats eat into the stem of the plant at the ground, espe-
cially after the rabbits have trimmed off the leaves. They
sometimes cut the plant dawn, and often destroy young
ratoons and suckers. The damage 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 car-
bonate 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 NSo. 8, U. S. Dept. of Interior,
Supt. of Documents, Washington, D. C., price 10 cents.
At harvest time pickers should carry barium carbonate
and wherever a hole has been eaten into a fruit by 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. Phosphorus paste poison seems to
be more deadly but if a cat eats the poisoned rat it will
probably kill the cat in this case. A new rat poison, "1080"
is due to appear on the market soon.
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 partly of the leaf of slips 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. When slips
are left on the plants for la considerable period they are
injured, even destroyed, by heavy infestations, probably
worse in dry weather.
Dusting sulphur is effective against them but it does not
act very quickly, apparently rains must wash the dust down
until close contact is made. Perhaps wettable sulphur spray
would act more quickly. Tobacco dust with nicotine is
PINEAPPLE A B C's
Root-knot 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.
To destroy nematodes in dry ridge soils it has been recom-
mended that the land be planted to Natal grass for two
years or so, keeping out all weeds that are susceptible to
nematode injury. Flooding for a long enough time will
doubtless be effective on lower lands, but in general the
nematode does not seem to be a problem in pineapple fields
where new land was used in the first place. Precautions
should be taken not to bring in infestations on tools, plants
that have had roots in infested soil, etc. Recent experi-
ments in Hawaii (Carter) indicate that the treatment of
soil with 200 pounds per acre of "D-D Mixture" is very
effective. This treatment promises to be economical and
does not require paper cover as does the chloropicrin treat-
ment. A treatment effective in the heavy Hawaiian soils
should be doubly effective-in our average light soils.
Root rot has been referred to above under preparation of
plants. Not only newly set out plants but old plants may
be attacked by fungi causing the roots to rot. Injuries
caused by insects, 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 fertilizer 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
In such cases a little soil may be pulled away from each
plant on the corner of the scuffle hoe at each scuffling. On
The Pineapple Mealy Bug (Pseudococcus brevipes, Cockerell).
Photograph by Westgate, Subtropical Experiment Station, Home-
stead, Florida-"shows mealy bugs below the sawdust mulch."
PINEAPPLE A B C's 63
the shallower rooted varieties this is not recommended un-
Spike is a disease causing short wedge-shaped leaves or
long narrow leaves probably due to improper fertilization.
Spiky planting material should not be used. A change in
the plant's diet may effect a cure.
Sun blisters form under the outer surface in hot wet
weather, even where the sun's rays may not strike directly.
High, narrow beds may help prevent.
Wilt is a term applied to diseases causing the leaves to
wither at the tips, to turn to red or red and yellow as they
die. Much the same appearance may be due to the stump
or roots rotting or failing whether from lack of a food
element, decay fungi, drouth, cold weather or disease.
It has been established that the mealy bug Pseudococcus
Brevipes (Cockerell), carries the most serious of the wilts,
called "quick wilt" or "mealy bug wilt" from infected to
non-infected plants. This wilt is often characterized by
green spots in the discolored areas. The adult female of
this soft bodied insect is shaped something like a turtle. The
back 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 effects of many
sprays. A fringe of legs protrude all around, especially
prominent in front. The young, which are borne alive, are
slender and pinkish and somewhat more active than the
adults. The maximum length of the pineapple mealy bug
is about an eighth of an inch. Many varieties of ants take
care of mealy bugs in order to enjoy a honey dew they
secrete. In dry weather they take them down to the roots,
in wet weather they carry them up around the base of the
fruit. Commonly the mealy bugs are found on the white
tenderer part of the leaf where the leaves are pressed close
together and on roots close to the plant.
In Hawaii control is by high pressure spraying with a
1 to 2% oil emulsion. Mr. O. R. Winchester of Flatwoods
Plantation, Boynton, Florida, states that "We find high
64 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
pressure best on very small plants but after they are knee
high it becomes a filling process. One per cent oil emul-
sion can be poured in by hand from cup." Mr. D. S. Rade-
baugh, Lakeview Pineapple Plantation, Sebring, Florida,
states, "We use 1 gallon (of spraying oil) to 50 gallons in
cool weather, when it is very warm, 1 to 65 or 75. About
3 times a year keeps themi under fair control. We have
found fine spray of little benefit, use large nozzle and fill
plant full especially at the base. This gives much better
It is to be hoped that one of the new dusts may be effective
against either the ants or the mealy bugs.
In 1944 Mr. Max Osburn, of the U.S.D.A. Entomologi-
cal Research Station at Sti Lucie, liberated a small wasp,
Hanmbletonia Pseudococcina, in several pineapple fields and
recovered wasps of a later generation in one instance. This
wasp, about the size of a sand fly, lays its eggs in the mealy
bugs. Originally from Brazil, the home of the pineapple,
it came to us via Porto Rico. In the laboratory Mr. Osburn
found a quite humid atmosphere necessary for the eggs to
hatch out so it may be that 1944 was a most unfortunate
year for introducing this jwasp as the winter and spring
drouths were so protracted.
In fumigating plants before taking them to a new field
the writer used double dosages of a cyanide gas double time
to be sure that all mealy bugs were killed. Mr. Osburn
checked and found that many mealy bugs survived. He
then tried methyl bromide and found it highly effective.
Experiments showed all mealy bugs were killed at dosages
that would not kill the redI spider, 1 pound per 1000 cu. ft.
Upon Mr. Osburn's advice the writer uses methyl bromide
at the rate of 2 pounds per 1000 cu. ft. for 2 hours at or-
dinary temperatures. With this dosage, if the red spiders
are rendered inactive the writer assumes he has a 100%
kill on the mealy bugs.
Methyl bromide is put up in one pound cans under pres-
sure 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-in-
flammable 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 gradu-
ated cylinder is available which permits the use of any de-
sired 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 heating 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
Pineapple mealy bug wilt caused by the pineapple mealy bug
(Pseudococcus brevipes, Cockerell). All plants 9 months old.
Center plants showing mealy bug wilt not treated with tobacco.
End plants, treated with tobacco dust and stems, show no mealy
bugs, ants or wilt. "Even these wilted plants are recovering at
present after tobacco dust was added." Photograph and informa-
tion by Westgate, Subtropical Experiment Station, Homestead, Fla.
PINEAPPLE A B C's
66 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Plants fumigated with methyl bromide showed no no-
ticeable 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 the cyanide gas. A careful check of ten suckers
from one plot by Mr. Osburn's office showed one bug on
Copper sulphate and Bordeaux mixture seem to have
curative value against wilt.J The Red Spanish is almost im-
mune to mealy bug wilt and the common Smooth Cayenne
seems especially susceptible.
The old Florida bulletins recommended applying tobacco
dust in the bud as a means of controlling mealy bugs. Of
interest in this connection is a paragraph from a letter from
Dr. Philip J. Westgate of Subtropical Experiment Station
at Homestead, dated August 13, 1945:
"On my trip last week I was interested in noting that
mealy bugs and mealy bug wilt was in evidence from
Homestead to Ft. Pierce, and across to Sebring. Certain
varieties such as the Red Spanish, the 'English,' and possibly
the Brazilian Scarlet (?) appear to be more resistant to the
mealy bug than such varieties as the 'Smooth Cayenne'
and the Abachi (Abakka)f Some of the growers recognize
the mealy bug as a pest, and are taking steps to control it
either with methyl bromide, oil emulsion or tobacco dust
or stems. Wherever tobacco dust or stems were used in the
heart, with or without cottonseed meal, there was a marked
decrease in mealy bugs and mealy bug wilt. More often
than not the tobacco was being applied to 'control red
spider,' to keep the sand ott of the heart of the plant,' etc."
Dr. Westgate recommends applying tobacco dust once
every three months at least and of course the grade used
should be that "with nicotine."
OBSERVATIONS ON SELECTING A PINEAPPLE
IN THE MARKET
The primary sign of ripeness in a pineapple is the yellow
color although some varieties do not color up at times and
may be ripe inside while green outside. A large fruit is
likely to be better than a small one of the same variety
and in general the flatter the eyes and the better the shoul-
ders of a fruit are filled out the better the flavor may be
expected to be-however Queens and Abacaxis may have
quite small pointed eyes some seasons and still be excellent,
and the Sugar Loaf may have no "shoulders." A delicious
smell is the surest sign of an excellent fruit, but the absence
of smell is not a sure sign of a poor fruit. The idea held by
many shoppers that the pineapple is ripe if the crown leaves
come out easily has no foundation in fact.
Some pineapples assume a "wet," translucent appearance
inside when fully ripe-this is called "water core" and is
not a sign of over ripeness. 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 vita-
mins A, B & C. Pineapple contains a protein splitting
enzyme, bromelin, a powerful digestive of albuminous mat-
ter. Most active between 90and 108 F. this enzyme is
destroyed at 126 F. As pineapple also loses so much flavor
in cooking, it is a shame to cook a good fresh one.
PREPARING A PINEAPPLE FOR EATING
In the old pineapple days 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
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
PINE ATPL P]LE A B C- s
68 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
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 with sugar, but do not try to keep it at low re-
frigeration temperatures too long-see under Refrigera-
Some people buy a pineapple to "smell up" the house,
but others hold that the proper use of pineapple is to make
a pie. In the making of the pie there are again diverging
schools of thought. Some chop the 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 a meringue.
A showy method of preparing a pineapple salad is to use
small, very ripe pineapples of a tender variety and proper
proportions. Prepare 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
hollowed out pineapple and replace the crown.
Fresh, uncooked pineapple may be used in frappes and
Barbosa mentions pineapple omelets and fish balls 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
cocoanut or shredded cocoanut.
But for the very best dish that can be made, make a
short cake of rich biscuit dough, open and butter while
hot and pile chopped up pineapple between and on top.
PINEAPPLE A B C's 69
Mr. Benjamin Baker of Key West planted pineapples on
Plantation 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 consolidate and
charter schooners which cost from $1000 to $2000 a char-
ter and the schooners would carry from 6000 to 8000 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 pineapples. I remember one year
in particular I went to New York on a schooner which car-
ried 5600 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 5 2 days-the 5600 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 Mc-
Cormack & Hubbs and they unloaded them at their own
"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
In about 1860 a Mr. Brantley planted pineapples on
Merritt's Island. Several boat loads of plants were subse-
quently brought from the Keys so that by 1876 "there was
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
hardly a settler from New Smyrna to Jupiter but had his
"In 1879 the first pineapples to be shipped to a distant
market from the Indian River section was gathered from
"Captain T. E. Richards of Eden, Florida, was credited
with originating modern pineapple culture. His first plant-
ings were made on the Islahd 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 shipments 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. Mc-
Millan (Spencer). These plants were Queens, known in
Florida as Egyptian Queehs. Smooth Cayenne plantings
under sheds were made in Volusia, Orange, Lee and other
The Florida East Coast Railway reached Ft. Pierce in
1894 and thereafter, in spite of serious freezes now and
then, the industry expanded rapidly. In 1899 there were
1325 acres in pineapples and the crop was 95,442 crates.
The 1908-09 crop was 1,i10,547 crates, and the acreage
was probably about 5000. By that year the Cuban crop
had reached a total of 1,294,037 crates and markets were
oversupplied, the average price to Florida growers for
1909 being given as 76c per crate while the cost of pro-
ducing a crate was figured at 95c to $1.05 (Figures from
Benefited by water rated Cuba could ship a crate to Chi-
cago at a lower rate than Florida could. In 1913 the Under-
wood Tariff reduced the rate on imported pineapple but
worse troubles were befalling the growers. In 1910 spots
in fields along the Indiar 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 the industry.
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. He recently visited
an eight year old field of Red Spanish on the ridge. The
field is playing out but this is attributable 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
be greatly affected by root knot were they not weakened by
other factors. He suggests two factors:
1. Virgin ridge soils north of Ft. Pierce, tested by the
writer, have a pH of about 5.5. On a loose sandy soil thirty
to fifty feet above any hard pan it took a long time for the
fertilizers used to raise the pH to a point too high for the
pineapple but eventually this happened. Mr. W. R. Briggs
of the Growers Fertilizer Co. of Ft. Pierce states that he
finds the pH on these old fields running 6.5 to 7.5 today-
in most cases they have not been used now for nearly thirty
2. Today it is recognized that pineapples need consid-
erable amounts of magnesium. The fertilizers popular in
the old days usually had none other than that contained
in the organic. Under the topic "Minor Elements" it is
suggested that fields along the Indian River received ap-
preciable 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
PINEAPPLE A. B C's
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
salty. But in 1909 a storrl 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 in the river dibd. As the water gradually be-
came fresher the spray blown from it brought less nourish-
ment 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.
Pineapple acreage in the state reached a low point in the
late '20's. In about 1930 r. 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 com-
paratively more important than formerly. Through in-
quiries addressed to county agents and others the writer
estimates that in the spring of 1945 the acreage was about
ABBOTT, OUIDA D.
General Properties of Some Tropical and Subtropical Fruits of
Florida: U. of Florida Ag. Exp. Sta. Bu. 237; 1931; pp. 23-25.
Cultura, Commercio e Industria do Abacaxi: Empreza Editora da
"Characas e Quintoes" R. da Assemblea 16; Sao Paulo, Brazil; 1932.
BLAIR, A. W.
Fertilizing Value of Pineapple Plants: Press Bu. 144, Fla. Ag. Exp.
BRATLEY, C. 0. and MASON, A. S.
Control of Black Rot of Pineapples: U.S.D.A. Circular 511; Janu-
Soil Treatment with Special Reference to Fumigation with D-D
Mixture: Jour. Ec. Ent.; Feb., 1945; Vol. 38, no. 1, pp. 35-44.
CLARK, LLEWELLYN H.
Pineapple Culture in the Eastern Districts of the Cape Province:
Dept. of Ag., Union of South Africa; Government Printer, Pretoria
FLETCHER, C. C.
Conservation of Fertilizer Materials from Minor Sources: U.S.D.A.
Miscellaneous Publications 136, 1932; Govt. Printing Office, Wash-
ington, D. C.; 5c.
GILE, P. L.
Relation of Calcareous Soils to Pineapple Chlorosis: Bu. 11, Porto
Rico Ag. Exp. Sta., 1911; U. S. Govt. Printing Office, Washington,
HENRICKSEN, HENRY C.
Fundamentals of Pineapple Growing: Proc. of Fla. State Hort.
Soc., 1939; p. 55.
JOHNSON, MAXWELL O.
The Pineapple: Paradise of the Pacific Press, Honolulu, T. H., 1935.
$5.00. The most comprehensive text on the subject.
MILLER, H. K. and BLAIR, A. W.
Pineapple Culture III, Fertilizer Experiments: Bu. 83, Fla. Ag.
Exp. Sta., 1906.
MILLER, H. K. and HUME, HAROLD
Pineapple Culture I, Soils: Bu. 68, Fla. Ag. Exp. Sta., 1903.
Symbiotic Nitrogen Fixation in the Genus Casuarina: Soil Science
No. 6, December, 1933; pp. 409-425.
RADEBAUGH, D. S.
Growing Pineapples in Central Florida: Fla. State Hort. Soc. Pro-
ceedings, 1943; p. 131ff. Discusses the "new" Smooth Cayenne
introduced from Mexico.
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. Bu. 140; 1901.
SPENCER, L. E.
Assembled Data Concerning Pineapple Culture in Florida: F.E.C.
Ry., Miami, Fla., 1934. (Mimeographed Volume).
VOSBURY, E. D. and WINSTON, J. R.
Pineapple Culture in Florida: U.S.D.A. Bu. 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 experiments.
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