Su.Iropical Experiment Station
BULLETIN No. 125 MAY, 1956
PHILLIPS K. PLATTS
STATE OF FLORIDA
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
NATHAN MAYO, Commissioner
BULLETIN No. 125
I 1 ;
Field of Red Spanish pineapples on Indian River Ridge in "horse and buggy days"-M. E. Card place about 1905. Temperatures near
th--mndir ye T oiilit tWi_ y Lg Qf P I I
Can Pineapples Be Made To Pay In Florida?
A person who can do his own work and is located so
that he can sell direct to tourists should find a small "patch"
of pineapples an interesting and profitable hobby if he has
suitable land and tries to produce fruit only for those seasons
wehen fruit can be relied on to be sweet and good.
A warm location is essential. The land must be free of
nematodes and must not be loaded with phosphoric acid
from previous farming.
The following facts will interest one who contemplates
a commercial planting:
Most of the fresh pineapples shipped into the United
States each year come from Cuba. There is a sharp drop in
shipments in June, and by the end of June about 90% of the'
shipments have arrived.
It appears that the imports of fresh pineapples dur-
ing the past five years have been little different than
the totals for the years 1908-1912. Most of this fruit is'
picked green for a long trip to market. Authorities claim
that pineapples picked green have much less sugar and
flavor than those ripened on the plant. This is generally true
and gives a great advantage to the Florida grower. (How-
ever, the writer's experience indicates that Sugar Loaf, Per-
nambuco, Queen and Abakka fruit can he produced so that
picked when yellowish at the base only, they will, upon ripen-
ing, be as sweet and well-flavored as those ripened on the
plant. See pages 47 and 48.)
The unit value of the imports of fresh pineapples
has changed little since 1950 but the importation from
Hawaii has increased from 636,000 to an estimated;
10,000,000 pounds for 1955, and the value from 6.9c to;
nearly 10c per pound. Evidently Hawaii has been shipping
a good product.
Florida can grow to perfection almost any of the more
delicious varieties of pineapples. The writer recommends
that Florida growers produce superior varieties in the sea-
sons in which they can be counted on to be excellent. Even
in Hawaii pineapples are not naturally as sweet in winter
as in summer.
4 PINEAPPLE A B C's
The Pineapple ....................................................... ..................................... 7
Propagation- Terminology ........................................................ ........... 7
Soil and Location ........................................................ ................ ............ 11
Light and Temperature Problems ........................ 12
Protection from Cold and Heat ................................................. -- 15
Australian Pine Trees for Frost Protection: An Evaluation ...................... 19
Protection from Sunburn ................................................................................ 20
Preparation of Land ................................ .......... ...... .... .. ......... 20
"Lands" ........................... ..............----------................ ... 21
Factors Affecting Spacing ................................................................................ 22
Selection ...................................................................................................................... 23
Cost and Sources of Plants ...................................................................................... 25
Protective Clothing .................................................................................................... 25
Preparation of Plants .................................... ... ............. ........ ..... 26
Packing Plants for Shipping ............................................................................ 27
Planting ............................................................................................... .............. 27
'Fertilizing Pineapples .............................................................................................. 28
Organic Versus Inorganic Fertilizer .............................................................. 28
Queensland Formula .................................................................................. .. 30
Puerto Rican Formula ..................................................................................... 30
In Hawaii .......................................................................................................... 30
Formula Suggested for Small Florida Planting .......................................... 31
M ixing Fertilizer ................................................................................................ 32
Applying Fertilizer .............................................. ............ ................... 32
Observations on Some Fertilizer Materials .................................................... 32
Deficiency Symptoms ....................... ....... .. .........- 33
Symptoms of Excesses ................................. ........... .... 34
Timing Applications ........................................ ... ............35
Advanced Lesson .......................... ................... .............. 35
Cultivation ............................................................................................................. 37
Chemical W eed Control ................ ................................................. .................... 39
Pre-emergence Sprays .................................................................................... 39
PCP-Oil Contact Sprays .................................................................................. 39
"CMU" ............................................................................................................. 41
Dalapon ............................................................................................................ 42
Paper Mulch ................................................................................................................ 42
M maintaining a Field .................................................................................................. 43
Spreading the Harvest ............................................................................................ 44
Inducing Bloom- "Smoking" ... ........................................................ 44
Hormone Magic ..................................................................--- --- 46
To Make Fruit Sweeter ................................................ 47
General Suggestions for Sweetness ................................................................ 48
Harvesting ................................................................................. ...... ..... .......... 48
Grading ................................................................................................................ 51
Packing ........................................................... ............................................. 51
Marketing Suggestions ...................................................................................... 52
Refrigeration ..................................................................................................... 53
Yields ............................................................................ ........ ....... 54
Varieties ..................................................................................................................... 54
Disease, Enemies, Etc. ............................................................................................. 64
Observations on Selecting a Pineapple in the M market ....................................... 73
General Properties of the Pineapple ..................................................................... 74
History of Pineapples in Florida .......................................................................... 75
Bibliography .................................................... ........... ......... ................... .... 83
PINEAPPLE A B C's
Without the generous assistance of the following, a
satisfactory revision of this bulletin would have been impos-
sible. Thanks are due to Dr. H. S. Wolfe, Professor of
Horticulture, University of Florida, for digging up the
patent numbers; to Dr. Philip J. Westgate, Central Florida
Experiment Station, Sanford, and to Dr. Herbert Spencer,
U. S. D. A. Bureau of Entomology, Orlando, for literature;
to Mr. O. R. Winchester and Mr. James A. Winchester of
Flatwoods Plantation, Boynton, Mr. J. E. Abbott of Davotte'
Farms, Delray, and Dr. J. R. King, Indian River Field Labor-
atory, Ft. Pierce, for counsel; to Charles D. Kime, County
Agent, Ft. Pierce, and Mr. D. S. Radebaugh, Sebring, for
constant counsel; to Mr. Harold J. Emminger, Lake Placid,
for running experiments; to Mr. Robert G. Miller of Davison
Chemical, for running tests, and Mr. Wallace T. Long of
Superior Fertilizer for reading the manuscript on fertiliza-
tion; to the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Stock,
for valuable literature; to Dr. George Samuels, Agronomist,
U. of P. R. Agricultural Experiment Station, Rio Piedras,
for painstaking answers to several inquiries; and to Dr.
D. O. Wolfenbarger, Subtropical Experiment Station, Home-
stead, for constant counsel and for reading the manuscript.
The mistakes and shortcomings are my own.
PHILLIPS K. PLATTS
Ft. Pierce, Florida. 1956
PINEAPPLE A B C's
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.
Belonging to the family Bromeliaceae, of which Spanish
moss and the air plant- common in south Florida are mem-
bers, the plant has root buds in the axils of the leaves so
that it can assimilate plant food lodged there without its ever
reaching the ground-and the leaves are admirably suited
to collecting dews and light showers so that there is com-
monly some water in these reservoirs at their bases. A pine-
apple plant whose stem was dead at the ground was
observed to send down new shiny roots from the living
upper part, (stimulated by an application of copper). The
leaf of the pineapple plant is adapted to collecting, also to
conserving moisture. The fibrous stem acts as a reservoir
for stored food for the plant. This characteristic is illustrated
by the fact that most of twelve McGregor suckers, selected
as "virgin" in Australia, had fruit stalks several inches long
upon arrival in Florida six weeks later.
The pineapple plant blooms by shooting up a flower
stalk that is an extension of the main stem. Each "eye" of
the flower head sends out a flower and is capable of pro-
ducing seeds but only wild varieties produce seeds regularly.
Sometimes a seed producing strain occurs but this is undesir-
able. Pineapple seeds resemble apple seeds somewhat.
Since seedling pineapple plants do not "come true" and
it is said to take from ten to twelve years for a seedling to
bear naturally (the period can now be shortened consid-
erably), this method of propagation has no value except
8 PINEAPPLE A B C's
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).
Plants or shoots that come out on the pineapple plant
are named according to the place from which they emerge,
and vary somewhat in nature (see photograph). The plant
that comes on top of the fruit is called the "CROWN", and
because of it the pineapple is called the king of fruits.
Sometimes there are two or more crowns almost equal in
size. These are called "multiple crowns". Sometimes there
are so many crowns as to make a "rosette". In varieties that
normally have a single crown the cause of multiple crowns
is not known-it does not appear to be hereditary.
In the illustration a small shoot appears from the top
of the fruit along side the larger crown. This is called a
"CROWN SLIP". The shoot growing out of the lower part
of the fruit is called a "BASAL SLIP". Both crown slips
and basal slips are undesirable, hereditary traits.
Shoots emerging along the fruit stalk are called "SLIPS"
and are, like the crown and suckers, desirable planting mate-
rial. Usually there is a roundish fruitlet at the base of each
slip, at any rate this base is blunt.
"SUCKERS", which emerge from the plant stem be-
tween the ground and the fruit stalk, are usually more
pointed at the base where they join the stem of the old
"RATOONS" emerge from underground. Typical ra-
toons differ in pattern from suckers having a length of neck
or stem covered with short leaves, all of about the same
length. There is confusion in the use of this word as the
term "first ratoon crop" is applied to the normal second
crop on a new field-which is in fact mostly a sucker crop.
The sucker which is highest on the plant grows fastest so
that the ratoon rarely produces fruit before what is called
the "second ratoon crop". If ratoons are to be planted the
stem part should be cut off since it does not root readily.
PINEAPPLE A B C's
Basic Parts of a Pineapple Plant
PINEAPPLE A B C's
Slips, crowns and suckers of the same size and weight
are likely to produce a natural crop in about the same time,
planted in August they should come in at the appropriate
season for that variety the second summer after planting.
Larger suckers should produce fruit the first summer after
planting. If suckers are too mature they are likely to bloom
shortly after planting. As the fruit from such bloom would
be very small it is usually best to break it off to hasten
suckering. A crop that takes nearly two years in the making
will normally have the largest fruit, the most and strongest
Suckers that remain on the old plant, bear fruit and
then begin to produce suckers themselves seem to be the
principal planting material for Natal Queens in South
Africa, where they are called "STUMPS". The old plant
itself is often called a "stump". These stems, when not too
old, have buds that can be made to sprout. They sprout if
left on top of the ground where moisture and shade are
favorable, and when partly buried, some will rot but others
will send out suckers, responding best in spring or summer.
To get the most plants from these old stems, one method
is to cut in half inch discs, soak in 5% potassium perman-
ganate solution, and plant in sand. Another method recently
reported by Mr. Scott U. Stambaugh* is to cut into one
inch discs and start in peat moss. WARNING: in using
planting material that has been in contact with the ground
in the old field, one should be sure he is not carrying
nematodes or other soil diseases. It is best to cut off and
discard all parts that had contact with the ground, then dip
On March 22, 1944 the writer planted 560 selected
Natal Queen suckers. A heavy rain April 3rd gave them a
quick start. "Smoking" produced 545 fruit the last of
which appeared mature enough to pick on December 12 to
avoid a threatened frost. Fruit averaged about 13/4 pounds
which is fair for Natal Queens. There was a tendency for
* When title of authorities, such as "Mr." or "Dr.", are given, the information
was conveyed personally-where no title is given, see Bibliography.
PINEAPPLE A B Cs
cores to be large as a result of the rate of growth perhaps.
Very few fruit were too small to market. (See illustration.)
Crowns make excellent planting material, having larger
butts than slips. So one who eats a fresh pineapple that
suits his taste has, in the crown, highly selected material with
which to start raising pineapples.
This crop was producing in one season. 560 selected large Natal Queen
suckers were planted March 22. 1944. "smoked" July 14-as rain followed
immediately the treatment was repeated July 19. 545 fruit were produced,
averaging about 1:Vt pounds, fair size for this variety. This picture was taken
December 10, 1944. All fruit remaining on December 12 was considered mature
enough to be picked that date in order to avoid danger from a predicted frost.
Soil and Location
Pineapples have been grown on most types of soil
found in Florida except where soil is too alkaline due to
shell or marl. Well drained acid soils are preferred. Some
research indicates that the lower the pH down to about 4,
the heavier the crop of fruit and plants. (Hernandez-Medina)
They seem to tolerate alkaline conditions better when
the soil is porous. Mulches, sulphur and frequent applica-
tions of sulfate of ammonia have helped correct alkaline
12 PINEAPPLE A B C's
conditions. A pH of 3 may be found too low for the Red
Spanish but probably not for the Abakka.
To avoid weeds and soil infections new land is to be
When Florida was shipping around a million crates of
pineapples a year around 1910, most of them were grown
on the sandy spruce pine and hickory scrub ridge along the
Indian River. Much of this ridge was protected on the west
by "The Savanna," a shallow, river-shaped lagoon 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 0.18 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 the ridge.
For growing pineapples a site should be chosen where
overflow will not occur. If the soil tends to "water-log",
"lands" should be narrow and high with deep waterfurrows.
Sometimes flood conditions will do little apparent damage,
again such conditions cause disease of the roots.
Light and Temperature Problems
Much sunshine may cause a fruit to become so yellow
that it appears to be ripe when it is not-probably a pro-
tective device, as the lighter color will reflect more of the
heat. In August a "steak thermometer" was taken from under
a bin in the packing shed, where it registered 88 degrees F.
and thrust into a badly sun-scalded fruit that was lying on
its side. The temperature inside the fruit was 120 degrees F.
Whenever the day's temperature reaches 90 degrees sun-
burn may be expected where fruit is leaning or the breeze
is shut off from fruit not shaded on the west. Short of
scalding, heat will stunt one side of fruit, and it appears
o cause the cores of some varieties to crack horizontally.
(When this happens the part of the fruit above the crack
colors prematurely.) Heat damage is worse in dry weather.
PINEAPPLE AB C's
Heat damage will be less in breezy locations, although
windy conditions may reduce yield. Where trees give partial
shade, Clark recommends trimming them up 15 feet to
promote circulation of air.
Heat, wet weather and fertilizer in late August and
September may cause fruit ripening then to be insipid;
Planting should be finished while the soil is warm.
English hot-house gardeners who vied with one another to
produce the largest pineapples had a rule that the tempera-
ture of the soil around the roots should not go below 70
degrees. However, established plants may respond well to
applications of fertilizer with sulfate of ammonia or urea,
even with the temperature of the top 3 inches of soil well
down in the 60's. After long periods of temperatures around
freezing, plants may become red and be slow to resume
growth with warm weather.
Fruit ripening in cool weather does not naturally have
the sweetness and flavor of that ripening in warm weather,
1906 scene of shedded field in Indian River Area
14 PINEAPPLE A B C's
the colder the weather the sourer the fruit. Temperatures of 45
degrees may not only ruin the flavor of fruit nearly ripe but
cause "black heart", an interior breakdown accompanied by
discoloration varying from a few spots at first to browning
of the whole interior. A related breakdown can be caused by
five or six days of cloudy weather in the fall. While frost
injures or destroys fruit, bloom and foliage, nevertheless tem-
peratures well below freezing often do little damage to
plants that have been properly fertilized if frost does not
form. Mr. Will Pomeroy reports that in his yard in Orlando
pineapple plants were not injured by the 1940 freeze nor
have they been injured since (1945). One case is reliably
reported where pineapples growing in the shade of oak trees
withstood a temperature of 22 degrees-this does not neces-
sarily mean that the temperature under the trees was that low,
but in such cases the absence of frost or/and protection from a
warming sun the following day seem to be factors. About
two weeks after severe temperatures without frost the ends
of leaves may be expected to wither-that may be the extent
of the injury, but sometimes there seems to be a long enduring
stunting of the plant. When frost has immediately wilted
the plants down, one of two things follows: the frosted leaves
remain watery and the plant soon rots, or the injured parts
dry and most of the living plants will recover.
The writer has observed these factors two or three miles
west of the Indian River:
Frost damage is more severe and more frequent where
(1) the land slopes down to the east, (2) in a depression in
the field, (3) where there is shelter as of thickets or ham-
mocks on the west or northwest side of the field, (4) where
the soil is dark, (5) where there is a mulch or (6) where
the field is foul with grass.
Frost damage is less severe and less frequent where
there is even a moderate slope upwards to the east, where
there is a thicket growth on the east, where the soil is sandy
and where the field is clean.
PINEAPPLE A B C's
The experience of bean growers on the island between
Indian River and the ocean was that frost was more frequent
behind north-south windbreaks than behind east-west wind-
breaks. (Our cold winds are from the northwest, west, per-
haps rarely southwest.)
The only difference among the varieties as to their
ability to withstand cold seems to be that there is less dam-
age where the foliage is highest and thickest.
Protection from Cold and Heat
Formation of frost is prevented or retarded by overhead
shade. A few inches beneath the ground surface there is
plenty of heat and if there is no mulching on the ground to
keep the heat in it rises to warm whatever is above it. In
1940 the writer stuck a milk thermometer in a low leaf
crotch of a pineapple plant in the second row of a bed of
pineapples covered with cabbage palmetto fans. The reading
was 32 degrees. There was no frost under there. Then the
thermometer was laid on top of the fan above the plant and
the reading was 23 degrees-a difference of 9 degrees in
about 18 inches. This was after frost had been on uncovered
plants for 10 hours.
In the White City area for many years the standard
method of protecting pineapples in winter has been to cover
plants with "fans" of the cabbage palmetto. Fans stay on
better if the round side of the stem is down. Leave fairly
long stems on the fans and lay the stem of each fan over
the preceding fan. If plants are even and fairly close to-
gether fans stay on remarkably well, but of course they must
be inspected now and then. In the old days in that area the
date for covering was December 15, the date for removing
cover was March 15 or later.
Years ago care was taken to cure the fans by stacking
as soon as cut, in small piles on platforms made of poles
with poles for weights on top of the piles. Then at the end
of the season the good fans were stacked and used again
the next year. Nowadays they do not keep well.
PINEAPPLE A B C's
Grass is often used for covering pineapples. Short
grass should not be used-it sifts down and seems to do
more harm than good. Grass handled with pitch forks should
be put on in wads with space between for light, a wad to
one or several plants. Saw grass and Napier (Elephant)
grass should be laid thinly to make about a half shade. A
stalky grass that can be cut before it makes seeds to sprout
or attract rats might be grown in a field near the pineapple
Grass covering to illustrate covering technique- putting grass o\ir buds in
wads. with space for sunlight between wad---omrewhat exaggerated.
As early as 1886 a shed with palmetto fans on top was
used in Florida to protect pineapples from frost. Eventually
sheds were built in relatively frost free areas, and many
acres were shedded.
The common type of shed was a slat shed as ferneries
use today-giving half shade. These sheds prevented ex-
remes of temperatures, conserved soil moisture during
Irouths, and prevented sunbturn. With wood burning ovens
PINEAPPLE A B C's
scattered evenly through the field the temperature could be
kept 10 degrees above outside temperatures when desired.
Sheds were built to give 61/2 to 7 feet clear above
ground. By one plan posts were set 91/ by 14 feet. Plaster-
ing 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 thou-
sand such a shed was expensive enough but at today's prices
it involves too great an investment to be considered com-
mercially for pineapples.
It should not be too expensive to build some kind of
shed for a home pineapple patch out of materials having
no commercial value. Sheds could be made with bamboo
poles. For posts large bamboo poles could be dipped in
some kind of wood preservative, and the poles without treat-
ment 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. Wire-bound crate material
makes satisfactory cover.
Sprinkler irrigation systems have been used successfully
to protect plants from frost. It is essential, of course, to keep
sprinkling until all frost and ice have melted. Unless a tre-
mendous amount of relatively warm water could be kept
constantly flowing on the fruit, sprinkling would hardly save
fruit from Black Heart in frosts of long duration.
If plants are very small when cold weather arrives
and/or no other protection is to be given, all mulching should
be removed, all weeds kept out and tall weeds and wind-
breaks in the direction from which cold winds come should
be removed to allow free circulation of air. Cover laid
directly on small plants is not satisfactory.
One way to protect large individual plants, buds and
fruit is to tie the leaves together above the fruit. This gives
considerable protection but plants are often blown halfway
over if in exposed locations.
PINEAPPLE A B C's
'y \ 1r
r;', '" % \' "'
Ihese Australian pine trees planted in Ito nave given plants satistactory
protection from frost for several years, except at east end of beds. In freeze of
anuary 9, 1956, when thermometer in cold spot one half mile away recorded
26 degrees for 1% hours some fruit was frozen, but some, directly under trees
as apparently uninjured. Tree foliage was unusually thin this year due to 8
months infestation of spittle bug. The area to the west is open for 600 feet.
latts' Patch, Ft. Pierce. Photo by Jules Frere
PINEAPPLE AB C's
Australian Pine Trees for Frost Protection:
Years ago a pioneer in the Ft. Pierce area told the
writer that a "Black Frost" once occurred here as late as
May 10th. There was a hard frost, in spots at least, on April
27, 1928. So continuous protection for pineapples would
seem to be very desirable. In 1942 Australian pine trees
Casuarina Cunninghamiana were planted in north-south
rows on beds with pineapples. In a few years it appeared
that plants suffered stunting damage east of the row of trees.
This agreed with the experience of the early bean growers on
Then trees were planted in east-west rows 40 feet be-
tween rows, a bed of pineapples being planted along with
each row. When the trees reached a height of 50 feet or so
they gave good frost protection to the whole field. The
trees have not branched much, so where middles have been
planted they get little shade in summer. These results
(1) As with live oak trees, the pineapple plants do not
seem to be affected much by the Casuarina tree roots,
except perhaps in drouth.
(2) On nights when temperature stayed 45 degrees or
lower for 10 hours, "Black Heart" was induced in some
or all nearly ripe fruit among the trees while none was
found in an open field close by. Due to the shade the
temperature under the trees remained low for a longer
period-possibly this is the reason.
(3) Although the branches were cut off up to about 13
feet the trees reduce the circulation of air so that there
is more sunburn in areas not shaded during the heat of
the day than there is in the open field. Pruning of
branches up to 15' is recommended by Clark.
PINEAPPLE AB C's
(4) Fruit in the open field not only resists sunburn much
better but after being picked it resists dehydration
better, seems to have more wax. Due to more sunshine
it averages sweeter.
(5) Organic nitrogen seems to be quite unavailable for
about six months, beginning in September.
(6) Brown Spot induced by cloudiness in the fall seems to
be more prevalent.
(7) There is a tendency for fruit to be more elongated,
especially in the fall.
(8) It seems that fewer slips are produced.
(9) These trees take nitrogen from the air (Mowry) and
provide a constant supply of rich humus.
(It should be observed that pineapples do not tolerate
the roots of the native pine trees, nor of water oaks
and some other oaks.)
Protection from Sunburn
To protect leaning fruit from sunburn a mass of Spanish
moss or excelsior or a piece of burlap may be laid on.
This should be done so that the picker can see the base of the
fruit without disturbing the cover every time he comes
around. Sometimes the leaves of the plant can be tied to
support or cover the fruit. In Australia they slip a paper
sleeve on the fruit, using an inverted funnel to get the sleeve
over the crown. To produce Abakkas with straight crowns,
staking may be necessary. Place the stake so that the fruit
leans away from it somewhat, and allow room within the tie
for growth. If fruit has to be lifted up to the stake, lift up
some leaves also, to act as a kind of splint for the stalk.
Binder twine is the most economical material for the tie.
Preparation of Land
It is considered best to remove stumps and rakings from
the field rather than burning them because concentrations of
ashes will make chlorotic plants. The land need not be broken
PINEAPPLE A B C's
deep and in some areas it is harmful to plow up the inert
layer beneath the darker topsoil. It is well to prepare land
far enough in advance so that an excellent seed bed condition
is obtained without much hand labor. (Years ago the writer
saw land prepared by hand entirely, every stump dug out
or dug around and burned, every inch of the field was
grubbed with a grub hoe just as a northern kitchen garden
is spaded. Every root was taken out-raking and ditching
were by hand tools.) It is not well to clear land too far
ahead of planting as weeds will become too much of a
problem before the plants cover the ground, also wasteful
leaching occurs. As with other plants, if soil is loose and dry
deep down at planting time and a dry season follows, plants
will suffer and be slow to start. The more vegetation that can
be incorporated in the soil before planting, the better.
On the Indian River ridge fields no water furrows
were needed and the width of a bed in an open field was
limited only by the ability of a picker to toss a fruit to a
man in the nearest aisle, so that some beds were up to 60
In this section, for the sake of clarity we will speak
of the area between waterfurrows as "lands". A "land" may
have one or more "beds" on it. The "bed" may consist of
a single row, a double row, or a pattern with any number of
rows equally distant apart.
On "flatwoods" a waterfurrow of at least 18 inches in
depth is recommended. Where the soil is quite porous lands
can be wider than where it becomes soggy.
Pineapples seem to thrive best on slopes or crests. If
compatible with the method of weed control to be used,
lands should slope to a slight crest in the middle-or each
row should be on a slight ridge.
Three hundred feet is a convenient length for lands and
rows. Where cross ditches can be used as roads it saves
PINEAPPLE A B C's
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 produced per acre
eventually decreases so that 18,000 plants per acre seems
to be about the practical limit (Johnson). While most Flor-
ida varieties have smaller plants the soil is much poorer so
that 15,000 plants is considered quite close. In fact, it is
convenient to consider 10,000 plants as an acre.
Where waterfurrows are necessary, 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 at one time was 1 to 2
feet apart in rows 9 feet apart.
Pineapples seem to thrive on crowding one way with
plenty of room another way, each plant liking an outside
position. In bed systems 18" x 18" to 22" x 22" have been
used commonly in Florida.
In deciding on a pattern for planting one should con-
sider these facts:
(1) Covering for frost protection is more effective
where beds are wide.
(2) Weed control after the first year may be easier
with wide beds.
(3) Inducing bloom, staking and pruning are done
more conveniently with narrow beds.
(4) With single or double row systems each fruit
gets more sunshine, an advantage in cool or cloudy weather.
(5) Some varieties will require more space per plant,
some less, to come to their proper size.
PINEAPPLE AB C's
In 1921 it became apparent that most of the Hawaiian
Smooth Cayenne fruit had slips growing out of the base
of the fruit, like our Abakka. By rejecting planting 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 suckers 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
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 best to put plants of about the same size together.
It is the writer's opinion that Abakkas did not have
nearly so many slips growing out of the fruit when he was
a boy as they do now. The few plants without slips on the
fruit usually have no slips at all and lack vigor, or are off
Some characteristics to look for in selecting planting
Vigor; size of fruit.
Absence of slips growing out of base of fruit; absence
of slips around the crown.
PINEAPPLE A B C's
Illustrating canvas mitten, canvas leggings and the scuffle hoe. Of course
the leggings were made for Dad.
PINEAPPLE A B Cs
Big eyes and ripening all the way up; short strong stem
and upright habit not easily blown over.
Time of bearing, season earlier or later than usual.
Shape of fruit-It is generally considered that fruit
should be long, cylindrical and of good diameter-avoid
slender, conical or misshapen fruit. These characteristics
can be detected while the fruit is on the plant. For special
work in selection one should go through the field just before
picking and mark with paint the selected plants.
Cost and Sources of Plants
Remnants of an old publication at hand, entitled The
Pineapple at Ft. Myers, other identification and date 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; Puerto Rico, $100; Red Spanish, $8. From 1904
to 1917 Red Spanish plants sold between $2.25 and $6 per
M. In recent years Red Spanish plants have sold at $8 to
$100, Abakkas at $30 to $100. These are prices on "slips."
In 1955 Smooth Cayenne slips sold at about $200.00.
Red Spanish plants from Cuba have been considered
superior to home grown stock but it is almost impossible to
get plants out of Cuba now except crowns from Florida
canneries. Sometimes plants have been brought in from
Puerto Rico. There is considerable red tape and expense
connected with importing plants from foreign countries.
Plants may sometimes be secured from juice stands and
are recovered from city garbage collections. The cost and
trouble of securing plants is such that it is usually advisable
for the beginner to start with a few plants and produce
plants for expansion.
Long-sleeved canvas mittens and pull-over canvas 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.
PINEAPPLE AB C's
R 'itern for Caonss Pattern for Canv4s
leaI'njS l fitt ih S
Cut p;es I \ hmb
Preparation of Plants
Plants should be graded by size so that those of a size
can be planted together. This prevents large plants from
overcrowding smaller ones, and makes for a uniform har-
vest within the block.
In the old pineapple days in Florida, plants were always
trimmed before planting, by cutting off the butt ends and
shucking off some of the lower leaves. Sunning after trim-
ming was rather incidental-in Florida. In some countries
much attention was given to sunning to cure wounded areas.
Today, in Florida, plants are not usually trimmed unless
there is some special reason such as large nubs on slips. If
plants are trimmed it should be done in sunshine. Nubs
need not be removed. Cut ends often dry out quickly.
Planting material is generally infested to some degree
with the pineapple mealy bug and the Florida pineapple mite
commonly called "Red Spider". There is no better time to
deal with these insects than at this stage. For treatment
see Red Spider and Wilt under DISEASES.
In handling suckers of soft leaved varieties and slips of
Sugar Loaf varieties care should be taken not to break the
Tops of suckers are sometimes trimmed for shipping
or to keep large suckers from being blown over, but it is
better to leave foliage intact.
PINEAPPLE A B Cs 27
Plants keep well for long periods in the shade. It is
better to have each butt exposed.
Packing Plants for Shipping
Plants should be dry before being packed. Butt ends
of suckers, especially, should be to the outside of the con-
tainer. Sometimes it is convenient to tie larger suckers in
bundles. When plants are enclosed too tightly, especially in
hot weather, bloom may be induced. For distant shipments
slatted crates may be best, for local shipment burlap bags
are satisfactory. Wet plants, especially suckers and old
plants, in large piles, are likely to heat and rot. Plants in the
open may sunburn.
Where a bed is to consist of several rows and planting
is to be by hand, the spot for each can be marked by a
rake-like marker run in both directions. In planting a con-
siderable area it is convenient to carry slips or crowns in a
big burlap apron. It saves time to drop two plants at a time
in between the places marked for them. For planting, a
strong garden trowel is the most convenient tool. The planter
sticks the trowel in the ground and pushes the handle back-
ward to cause the dirt to crack at the point where the marker
lines cross. The slip is seized with the free hand between
the thumb and fingers. The butt of the slip is pushed into
the ground far enough to stand fairly securely, depth being
regulated by position of the hand on plant. Usually no pack.
ing 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 prepare ground.
With practice a good man can plant 1,000 or more slips ar
hour-but not continuously. For longer suckers, holes may
have to be dug, especially if tops are not trimmed. It is saic
that in no case should even large suckers be planted more
than six inches deep. Plant as shallow as practical. On larg(
plantations planting machines are used.
PINEAPPLE A B C's
If fertilizer was not applied to the ground before plant-
ing it should be applied promptly after-to hasten rooting.
Fertilizer is applied to pineapples in four principal
ways: (1) in the bud of the slips soon after planting, (2)
in the axils of the lower leaves, (3) on the ground, and
(4) broadcast over the plants. Two or three hundred
pounds of a good balanced fertilizer applied evenly on the
ground will probably induce no visible spurt of growth
but the same amount applied in the axils of the lower leaves
will 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.
Fertilizers may burn plants in two ways. (1) The ap-
plication of too much sulphate of ammonia or similar ma-
terial in the axils of leaves will burn the white part of the
leaf, killing the leaf if the burn extends clear across. (2)
Organics or fertilizers largely organic, even castor pomace
by itself and sometimes the budding mixture, castor pomace,
tobacco dust and cottonseed meal, will heat and cause rotting
of the tender part of leaves. Tobacco dust with nicotine
removed is more likely to cause heating. Sometimes inor-
ganics applied in too concentrated a form cause plants and
fruit to exude a clear jelly.
Pineapple plants in lush growth burn more easily than
when rather dormant.
Because fertilizing material is constantly varying in one
way or another it is wise to test any fertilizer on a few
plants before applying to the whole field.
Organic Versus Inorganic Nitrogen
Nitrogen is necessary for growth. One of the puzzling
problems is how to keep an adequate supply of available
nitrogen at all times. Nitrogen from organic (animal or
vegetable matter) is not readily available in some forms,
such as hair and leather. In materials used for fertilizer
it has little availability in cool weather or dry weather-in
PINEAPPLE A B C's
warm weather with moisture it becomes available and leaches
gradually. On the other hand (coming from mineral sources
or the air such as sulphate of ammonia or urea) inorganic
nitrogen under cooler and dryer conditions is immediately
available to pineapples (nitrification is not necessary). But
it leaches readily, especially in thin sandy soils. Humus or
clay in the soil helps retain it.
According to Johnson, average Hawaiian pineapple
soils contain 7200 pounds of nitrogen per acre, mostly in
unavailable organic form. This is the amount of nitrogen
available in 1000 hundred pound bags of cottonseed meal
analyzing 7.2%. Yet it pays to make heavy applications ol
sulphate of ammonia for pineapples on those soils!
There is much evidence that pineapples do best where
there is a rich supply of "primary" plant foods in the ratio
of about 2 parts available nitrogen, 1 part available phos.
phoric acid and 4 parts available potash. Now suppose we
mix a fertilizer analyzing 5% nitrogen, 21/'% phosphoric
acid and 10%' potash, with all the nitrogen from organic
sources and apply about two ounces per plant right after
picking the summer crop (as recommended in 1906). On
the sunny sandy ridge by the Indian River this was quite
satisfactory but where the temperature averages a few de.
grees cooler this is likely to produce little growth during a
cold or dry winter. Some eager growers apply bulky organic
such as ground tobacco stems so lavishly, filling the crotches,
that the leaves can no longer properly collect dew and rain
in the croch reservoirs. Without proper moisture the fer.
tilizer may be no more available than the nitrogen sleeping
in Hawaiian fields.
On the other hand we may use 10-4-18 fertilizer with
the nitrogen from sulphate of ammonia. Then suppose there
is a heavy rain that night. Much of the nitrogen, especially.
leaches away. Our fertilizer is out of balance.
One way to attack this problem is to combine equal
amounts of each of these two formulas. Or we can do as
they do in Queensland.
PINEAPPLE A B C's
QUEENSLAND FORMULA-In Queensland they use this
formula: 10-6-10, the nitrogen being from sulphate of am-
monia. They apply this at the rate of 50 pounds to 1000
plants twice a year, in the spring and in the late summer.
In mid-summer they apply 30 pounds of sulphate of am-
monia alone, and the same again in the fall "while growth
is still vigorous". If nitrogen is apparently needed in be-
tween times, special applications are made. (From Mitchell
PUERTO RICAN FORMULAS-According to Dr. George
Samuels, Agronomist at the Agricultural Experiment Station,
University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras, 12-2-10 or 14-2-8
mixes are used, at the rate of about an ounce per plant for
three applications, namely: before planting and 3 and 8
months after planting. Then 12 months after planting (slips)
they use a like amount of 8-8-13, just before inducing bloom
(they believe that more phosphorus is needed just before
the initiation of fruiting). They use sulphate of ammonia,
ammoniated superphosphate, acid superphosphate and sul-
phate of potash. They also use 25 pounds of sulphate of
ammonia in 100 gallons of insecticidal spray when extra
nitrogen is needed. (For humus, cover crops are plowed in
IN HAWAII, Nightingale reports that in that rich soil
the amount of nitrogen which can be applied profitably
varies as much as 75% in the same field in successive years,
due to rains, temperatures and sunshine. It was found that
a high reserve of nitrate (nitrogen) in the plant during the
three months before the fruit bud emerges is needed to make
a heavy crop, but that nitrogen applied at that time cannot
be used efficiently unless the carbohydrate reserve in the
leaves is high.
"Black-green" or "olive-green" colored leaves indicate
low carbohydrate reserves. In leaves of the Smooth Cayenne
a high carbohydrate reserve (75 to 100% of capacity) is
indicated by a "yellow-green" color (the reddish surface
PINEAPPLE A B C's
streak is disregarded). Counting leaves over 9 inches in
length and considering only the mid third of each leaf
(neither tip or lower end), if, under warm, sunny conditions
less than 15% of the leaves are "yellow-green" (under very
cool or cloudy conditions less than 30%) the plant will not
be able to use added nitrogen at that time (unless condi-
tions-warmth and sunlight-are unusually favorable im-
mediately following application).
This applies to fields where there is no lack of phos-
phorus or potassium, otherwise the addition of potassium
may enable the plant to use more nitrogen.
These experiments indicate that the application of
nitrogen alone after the emergence of the fruit bud has no
effect on the size of the fruit. The writer suspects that
different varieties may vary somewhat in any of the above
norms or the following percentages.
Analyses of the white lower ends of leaves in Night-
ingale's studies indicated that:
a. A leaf-nitrate reserve of more than 0.10% was
b. A leaf-potassium content of more than 0.38% was
unnecessary (except to facilitate the absorption of
nitrogen when carbohydrates were high);
c. A leaf-phosphorus content of more than 0.02% is
unnecessary during the plant-growing period, and
0.028% around the time for bloom.
Formula Suggested for Small Florida Planting
For one application for 1000 plants make 100 pounds
of a 5-2-10 something like this:
50 lbs. Castor Pomace
10 lbs. Sulphate of Ammonia
4 lbs. Triple Superphosphate
20 lbs. Sulphate of Potash
14 lbs. Dolomite (for magnesium and calcium)
1/4 lb. Copper Sulphate (rather small granules)
1/4 lb. Zinc Sulphate
PINEAPPLE A B C's
1 lb. Borax
1/2 lb. Mangano (for manganese)
MIXING FERTILIZER: As so little fertilizer reaches a
single pineapple plant and its requirements are so exacting,
very thorough mixing of fertilizer is absolutely necessary.
Until quite recently the writer had great trouble with poor
commercial mixes. Even today one of the leading growers
of the State bitterly insists on mixing his own.
APPLYING FERTILIZER: The first application should be
applied to the ground before planting, drilled or raked in, in
hands under the rows. If there is danger of "sanding"* be-
ause plants are small or soil is especially loose, slips and
rowns should be "budded" soon after planting, by dropping
bout a tablespoonful of castor pomace or ground tobacco
tems (from which nicotine has not been removed) or similar
rganic on the center of the plant to keep out the sand.
f plants are larger a light application of the 5-2-10 dropped
into the outer leaves (in addition to the ground application)
ill promote a good start.
If planting was done before September (which is recom-
mended) another application should be made in outer leaves,
or on ground near base by about November 1, then an applica-
tion each 4 months, 100 pounds to 1000 plants. Between these
applications apply 15 pounds or so of sulphate of ammonia
or 8 pounds of urea as needed except when fruit is nearing
maturity. Too much nitrogen will cause stems to crack
while they are still tender and later will cause cracks at the
base of the fruit and in hot weather will cause fruit to be
OBSERVATIONS ON SOME FERTILIZER MATERIALS: A
pound of nitrogen from organic materials may cost 45 to
50 cents, from sulphate of ammonia around 13c and from
urea around 14c. Sulphate of ammonia is considered the
* "Sanding" refers to sand lodging in the bud-this stops growth of the
PINEAPPLE A B Cs
best source of nitrogen for pineapples in Puerto Rico and
Queensland, and has been standard in Hawaii. Pineapples
have not responded so well to nitrates.
Sulphate of ammonia increases the acidity of the soil
more than other materials, which is doubtless one reason for
its effectiveness. If too much lodges in a tender area it will
burn. Urea is also used in Hawaii. It does not seem to burn
so readily although it has 42 to 45% nitrogen to 21% fpr
sulphate of ammonia.
Today most Florida growers prefer organic but this
is not clearly justifiable. Probably they should grow their
own humus and apply inorganic nitrogen.
MANURE: It is inconceivable that stable manure will
not bring nematodes into the field. Well rotted chicken
manure collected on cement, where chickens have no access
to the ground can be used to a limited degree where no lime
has been added. But it may be too high in phosphoric acid
to be used for all the nitrogen-this should be checked.
Acid superphosphate applied by itself or in too high a
concentration causes a jelly like secretion-triple super-
phosphate seems to cause no injury.
Muriate of potash alone or in mixes burns severely-
sulphate of potash does not burn (according to the writer's
There seems to be no necessity of using a more expen-
sive source of magnesium than dolomitic limestone, which
supplies calcium, also. Dolomite in the mix is calculated to
DEFICIENCY SYMPTOMS: "A normal healthy plant is
dark green in color and has large, broad leaves." (Varieties
vary in normal color.) "Any departure from the normal color
and shape of the leaf is indicative of some form of mal-
nutrition." (Or disease.) It there is a deficiency of nitrogen
the leaves assume a paler color and may even become quite
yellow, with only a tinge of green in the youngest leaves. If
the plant is deficient in potash the leaves become brittle
PINEAPPLE A B C's
and stunted and lose most of the bloom on the under surface."
(Mitchell and Cannon.)
A yellowing of the leaves, first apparent at the growing
point (bud) may indicate iron chlorosis, caused by a defi-
ciency of available iron. Sometimes the skin of fruit becomes
red. Use 1 pound of ferrous sulphate dissolved in 4 gal-
lons of water, apply as a fine mist-avoid burning foliage.
Tender at first, plants become toughened to heavier doses.
Apply as needed, using 5 to 15 pounds of the sulphate to the
acre. Young plants may require frequent applications. On
some soils the necessity for spraying may be reduced by the
use of mulch and by the use of sulphur and sulphate of
ammonia to increase the acidity of the soil, also by giving
The writer has trouble with what seems to be either
iron toxicity or manganese deficiency. On younger plants
the leaves get very red, on older plants the outer leaves
become grayish or yellow and the tips wither, the fruit
becomes kidney shaped-not developing on one side, the
core becomes woody, the flesh sour. Manganese sulphate or
Mangano applied to the fruit dry, undiluted, or in a spray,
produces a marked recovery within three weeks. The sul-
phate will wash out with the first rain. Three pounds or
more of either Mangano or the sulphate to 100 gallons may
be used for spray. Use 1% managanese from Mangano in
the fertilizer on land where this occurs and make extra
applications if needed. The onset is quite sudden, watch care-
fully for recurrence. This can happen only on land very
high in available iron.
According to Mr. James A. Winchester zinc deficiency
may cause a blistering on the upper surface of leaves, usually
the older ones, one third to one half the distance from the tip,
in mild cases. Spray lightly with zinc sulphate and include a
very little in the fertilizer.
SYMPTOMS OF EXCESSES: Too much phosphorus limits
the size of plants and fruit and is a cause of "spike", when
PINEAPPLE AB C'
the leaves are stunted, short, pointed or narrow, waxy and
Too much nitrogen around the time the fruit stalk is
emerging may cause a horizontal crack in the stem which
usually prevents one side of the fruit from developing, and
makes it prone to break off. Cracks may also appear at
the base of the fruit, sometimes gashes several inches long.
When either of these symptoms is first noted a light applica-
tion of triple superphosphate may check the trouble.
Too much potash has apparently caused unusually
smooth, waxy fruit with large eyes. then just before ripening,
vertical cracks appear. A light application of urea when
the cracks began to appear has checked this promptly.
TIMING: Sometimes summer fruit is small because fer-
tilizer was applied too late in the fall. Fertilizer applied
after all the flowers on a fruit have opened is not likely
to increase the size of that fruit, usually going to produce
suckers, slips and larger crowns. No fertilizer should be
applied nor cultivation given within five or six weeks ol
harvest. If such fertilizing seems necessary it should con-
tain a small supply of minor elements.
For the benefit of the grower interested in root health
under wet and dry conditions and in producing sweet fruit.
part of the Summary and Conclusions of the article by Fran-
cisco J. Ramirez-Silva "The Effect of Certain Micronutrienl
Elements on the Growth and Yield of Pineapple Plants", Jour,
of Ag. of U. of P. R. for Oct., 1946, follows, more or less
Pineapple plants were grown in nutrient solutions from uniform an<
healthy slips. The solutions were prepared with a mixture of minor element!
containing ammonia and nitrate nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium
calcium, and sulfur.
Fourteen different treatments of the elements: iron, manganese, boron
zinc, copper, and aluminum, were used in triplicate. Combinations of these
elements were made in order to trace their effect, either toxic or beneficial, or
pineapple plant growth and production, on root growth, on flowering an
36 PINEAPPLE AB C's
fruiting, and on the quality of the fruit. The antidoting effect of iron against
the chlorosis-producing action of manganese was also studied. Plants also were
grown without adding minor elements to the nutrient solution.
Iron antidotes the chlorosis-producing action of manganese in pineapple
plants. With five parts per million of soluble manganese in a nutrient solution
containing one-half part per million of boron, of zinc, and of aluminum, and
2 parts per million of copper, severe chlorosis and necrosis appeared before
the pineapple plant was able to attain full growth. But, with one part per
million of soluble iron humate added to a similar treatment, a healthy, normal
plant was produced.
Iron counteracts the chlorosis-producing effect manifested by copper
Copper and manganese, at a concentration of 2 parts per million in the
nutrient solution produce strong chlorosis if iron is not present.
Aluminum and zinc show beneficial effects against chlorosis.
Iron shows no toxic effects on pineapple plants when added as the only
micronutrient element to the culture solution, up to five parts per million.
If chlorosis-producing elements like manganese or copper are present, higher
concentrations are beneficial.
The reserve iron content in slips of the variety "Smooth Cayenne" is quite
enough to counterbalance the detrimental chlorosis-producing effect of the
other reserve minor nutrient elements in the slip. However, plants grown in
nutrient solutions deprived of all minor elements produced fruits of lower
sugar content than these supplied with minor elements.
Pineapple plants respond to increase in iron in the nutrient solution,
giving increase in green color, in yield, in sugar content and in decreased
acid content. Treatments with a constant supply of manganese and other
micro-nutrient elements, as explained above, and with iron added in con-
centrations ranging from 1 to 10 parts per million, showed that the above-
mentioned beneficial effect varied directly with the increase in iron added to
the nutrient solution.
Iron prevents browning of root tips, or root rot, of pineapple plants
under either unaerated or aerated conditions. Manganese and boron show
also a somewhat beneficial action.
Copper has a highly beneficial action in preventing root-rot injury, when
under unaerated conditions. However, when the nutrient solution is well
aerated the effect of copper is somewhat dertimental to the roots. Nonaerated
solutions must be well supplied with copper and iron.
Aluminum has a beneficial action on root health and volume under the
aerated conditions of well aerated nutrient solutions, but it is highly toxic
to the roots under unaerated conditions.
Zinc exerts a somewhat detrimental action on roots under unaerated con-
ditions of the nutrient solution.
PINEAPPLE A B C's
It seems that as far as root growth is concerned aeration plays an im-
portant role; copper having a beneficial action under unaerated conditions;
and aluminum when the nutrient solution is well aerated. Iron, manganese
and boron are beneficial under either of the two conditions of oxygen supply.
Aluminum and manganese promote increased volume of roots when the
nutrient solution is well aerated. Copper and zinc tend to reduce the volume
of roots, but iron and boron show no direct effect.
Iron has a beneficial effect on early flowering and early maturity of the
Copper. zinc, and boron, and the chlorosis-producing effect of manganese,
have a retarding effect on flowering and fruiting. In this action they are
counteracted by iron. Aluminum shows no specific effect upon flowering and
Zinc and copper tend to produce low yields. Aluminum and boron increase
the yield. Manganese does not show specific effect on yield when added alone
to the nutrient solution.
Zinc, copper, manganese and aluminum show a tendency to produce fruits
with low sugar content and high acidity.
Iron and boron show a beneficial effect by increasing the sugar content
and lowering the acidity. Iron is an important agent of high quality of pine-
Zinc deficiency in the nutrient solution shows no signs of anatomical ab-
normalities in the pineapple plant.
Chlorosis in pineapple plants causes lower sugar content and higher
ratios of acid to sugar in the fruit.
NOTE: The above-mentioned conclusions on the independent action of the
minor elements refer to treatments in which they were added separately as
the only minor elements to the nutrient solutions in which the pineapple plants
were grown. The concentrations used for each element were: 5ppm Fe, 2 ppm
Mn, 1 ppm B, 2 ppm Cu, 1 ppm Zn, and 1 ppm Al.
One can hope for no success with pineapples without
controlling weeds. On newly cleared land in Florida, if
preparation has been thorough, weed control the first year
while plants are becoming established, should not be very
difficult. But most planting now has to be done on land that
has been pastured or near cultivated areas where trouble-
some weeds and grasses have become established. For small
plantings the scuffle hoe is the proper tool for weed control,
and is still useful around a large field. The best scuffle hoe
can be made by your blacksmith using ten or twelve inches
of a grass cutter ("Lazy Boy") blade, securely electrically
38 PINEAPPLE A B C's
welded at the middle to a strong shank which fastens to the
handle by means of a sleeve. (The triangular scuffle hoe is
heavy and clumsy in comparison, and the old style in which
blade is connected at both ends with the shank catches leaves
and is not so maneuverable.) A wooden handle such as used
for spears, about eight feet long, is desirable. In scuffling
pines the emphasis is not on cultivation but 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 more than 1/ inch deep. Fields should be kept
clean of weeds for a year or so until plants cover their beds,
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 starts crabgrass and other
weeds that will thrive all summer. Such weeds coming up in
August or later do not amount to much and will die during
the winter. Of course this does not apply to all weeds. Polk
berry and other large weeds must be pulled up from time to
time. A heavy mulch of grass or other material is invaluable
in keeping down weeds.
On well prepared land after slips are rooted well but not
yet large, a good hand can scuffle a tenth of an acre an
hour but if land is rough or weeds have gotten bad it may
take up to ten times as long. The secret of rapid scuffling
is to take long strokes. When plants are small a scuffle
blade attached to a stream-lined wheel plow does the work
more easily and will save time.
Scuffling when land is very wet is considered injurious
to the 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
PINEAPPLE ABC's 39
cutting off ratoons when they are very small. In mature
fields there should be no scuffling where there are no weeds.
Do not scuffle within a month of harvest. For large acreages,
tractor drawn weeding devices are used.
Chemical Weed Control
Recently two pre-emergence weed control materials
suited to the pineapple field have become available. For
best results with these, all weeds, tubers and roots should
be killed by cultivation before planting the field. Promptly
after planting, or after the first good rain thereafter, the
weedicide should be applied.
One of these, sodium pentachlorphenate, has been used
for some years in Australia, where they call it "PCP". It
may be obtained in this country as "Dowicide G". The fol-
lowing is quoted from "The Pineapple", Advisory Leaflet
No. 286, Queensland Division of Plant Industry, by P.
Mitchell and R. C. Cannon:
For use as a pre-emergence weedicide, sodium pentachlorphenate is
dissolved directly in water in the spray vat, and applied at a rate of from
10 to 20 lbs. per acre, irrespective of the quantity of water used. About 100
gallons per acre, applied to the bare surface of the ground as a fine mist
spray, is usually sufficient for normal requirements. The only precaution
necessary is to avoid spraying directly into the hearts of pineapple plants;
otherwise injury may result.
The best results are obtained when the ground is reasonably moist at the
time of spraying. If it is very dry, and weeds are not likely to germinate
in any case, it is usual to postpone spraying until after rain has fallen.
If, for any reason, dry soil must be treated, a greater quantity of water per
acre would be advantageous. Heavy rain, even if it falls soon after spraying,
will have no effect on the result.
The success of pre-emergence weed control depends on the land being
clean and free from growing weeds at the time of treatment. PCP applied
under these conditions will keep land virtually free from weeds for a period
of at least two months.
PCP-Oil Contact Sprays
Sprays containing PCP alone, at least at the strengths used for pre-
emergence treatment, are of little value as contact sprays and only give a
temporary setback to most weeds of any size. The addition of suitable oils,
40 PINEAPPLE A B C's
however, results in greatly enhanced toxicity to established weeds. For inclu-
sion in low pressure, high volume spray equipment the oil must mix with
water, and this necessitates the inclusion of emulsifiers.
The only oils so far tried in Queensland are diesel oil and creosote. The
diesel oil emulsion alone has virtually no effect on weeds at dilutions greater
than 1 in 30, which is below the danger limit for pineapples. The creosote
emulsion is slightly more toxic to weeds, but not sufficiently so for it to be
of any consequence in practice. The real importance of both lies in their use
in combination with PCP as contact sprays for the destruction of weeds.
Combination sprays of this kind, containing 3 lbs. of PCP and 1 gallon of
mineral oil or creosote emulsion per 100 gallons, have been found to give com-
plete control of broad-leaved weeds. If the dominant weeds are grasses, the
spray concentration may be increased to 6 lbs. PCP and 2 gal. oil emulsion per
100 gals. This spray will destroy most weeds and the surviving grasses are
so severely checked that their removal by hand chipping is greatly facilitated,
provided the work is done before recovery takes place.
For all practical purposes, diesel oil is just as satisfactory as creosote for
the control of broad-leaved weeds, but creosote emulsion is to be preferred if
grasses are also involved. Unless grasses are present, there is nothing to be
gained by using higher concentrations than are necessary. Where, as is often
the case, grasses as well as broad-leaved weeds are present, the higher con-
centrations will be required.
In applying contact weedicides, it is important to completely wet the foliage
of the weeds. The quantity required will, therefore, depend on the number
and size of the weeds present, and no fixed rate per acre can be prescribed.
In most cases it will be considerably greater than 100 gallons per acre, which
is the amount normally required for pre-emergence treatment.
Difficulty may be experienced in preparing PCP-oil emulsion sprays
when underground water is used, more especially during drought periods, when
the salt content tends to increase. Instead of mixing freely, the emulsion
breaks, and free oil, or an oil scum, accumulates on the surface of the mixture.
This not only blocks up the jets, but also reduces the effectiveness of the
spray. In order to overcome this trouble, the water may be treated with a
proprietary water softener, such as Calgon. The hardness of the water will not
materially affect its use with sodium pentachlorphenate in pre-emergence
sprays, where oil is not included.
The introduction of chemical methods of weed control in pineapples has
curtailed labor demands, thereby considerably reducing production costs.
Of the methods in use, pre-emergence spraying is pre-eminently the more
satisfactory, since the best way to control weeds is to prevent them becoming
established'. Contact sprays are of particular value in an emergency, when
weeds have got out of hand.
Note: Dowicide G is 88% active ingredients: use 1 7 more than of PCP.
PINEAPPLE AB C's
Another Weedicide, "3- (p-chlorophenyl)-1,
1-dimethylurea" or "CMU"
This material, marketed as "Karmex W", is also pri-
marily a pre-emergence weedicide and does not injure the
pineapple plant so long as a quantity does not enter the bud.
The duPont people write:
"Karmex W Herbicide has been registered for use on
pineapples at rates of 2 to 6 pounds of product per acre on a
broadcast basis. In Hawaii . application is generally made
by airplane sprayers. Some plantations apply about 4 pounds
per acre just after planting, and follow this with an addi-
tional 2 pounds per acre as needed between the rows."
Use heavier applications with caution.
The writer understands that this material has been
applied at the rate of 10 pounds per acre in Florida with the
idea that it might prevent weeds emerging for one year. In
French Guinea 4.4 pounds per acre was used in May and
September but apparently really controlled emergence for
three months, each application.
Karmex W mixes in water readily and stays in suspen-
As with the "PCP" the ground should be moist when
application is made and rain afterwards is considered bene-
ficial, however the writer applied some of both on water
soaked soil and a two inch rain that night apparently washed
both of them away-as would be expected, for they should
penetrate the soil.
When weeds begin to appear the treatment can be
repeated. This material has been used experimentally in
California orange groves to keep down weeds and it was
found the trees were not hurt before 40 pounds per acre had
been applied. It does not accumulate in the soil over a long
period but eventually decomposes.
A few weeds and some established grasses are quite
resistant to these but there is a great advantage in using
them where possible in that much injury is done to the plants
PINEAPPLE A B C's
and roots by mechanical weed control, also the cost of labor
saved is considerable.
The Karmex W costs about seven times what Dowicide
G costs, per pound.
A selective systemic weed killer effective against grasses,
"Dalapon", Sodium Salt 78, may prove useful in the pine-
apple field. Application of 6 lbs. per acre, repeated in three
weeks in one case and in six weeks in another case, killed
Para grass and Bermuda. It is most effective when grass
is growing vigorously and the weather is warm.
In Hawaii pineapples are usually planted with an as-
phalt impregnated paper mulch (Johnson). Fifteen pound
asphalt impregnated felt such as that used by builders is
satisfactory. It conserves moisture, heat and plant food and
suppresses weeds. The writer assumes that much of its suc-
cess in Hawaii is due to a suppressing effect on nematodes.
It is credited with increasing the yield of fruit there by 15
to 25%, but is has never found much favor in Florida. Dr.
Philip J. Westgate found the pH under such paper to be a
point lower than where there was no mulch.
Mitchell and Cannon give these suggestions:
"The paper is laid down on mounded beds . The
land must be brought to a fine tilth and should be thoroughly
moist before planting; otherwise soaking rain will be neces-
sary before growth begins . The free end of the roll of
paper is firmly embedded in the soil at the end of a row
and then unrolled on the surface, the edges being covered
with about 3 in. of soil to keep them in position. A band of
soil is placed across the strip at intervals of half a chain or
so. A still day is required for the work."
The writer recommends raking or drilling in a good
application of fertilizer before laying the paper.
An iron dibble is used to pierce the paper and make
holes for the plants.
PINEAPPLE A B C's
Maintaining A Field
With mealy bug control and no nematodes a planting
of Red Spanish, larger Queens, Pernambucos and Abakkas
may be productive indefinitely although the general com-
mercial practice is to replant after two or three crops. Some
Red Spanish fields on the ridge by the Indian River lasted
twenty-five years and some Queen plantings in Queensland
lasted thirty years. Whether to maintain an old field or
continually replant depends upon the vigor of the old plant-
ing and the economics of the situation.
If it has taken 18 to 24 months to produce the first
crop, it is likely to be the best in average size and total ton-
nage. The second crop, the next year, will come from suckers,
the sucker highest on the old stump receiving the most nour-
ishment. This highest sucker will produce the largest fruit,
as a rule, and will be most likely to fall over. The slower
growing ratoon, the sucker that started from under ground,
may be ready to produce the third crop. Where possible it
is well to remove high suckers and those that have borne.
If filling in with new plants becomes necessary large suckers
should be used for small plants will be crowded. Or a lazy
way to fill in is to throw down an old sucker that has borne.
Slips, definitely, should be removed from the stalks as
they take the strength of the old plant. If they are left on
over winter for spring planting they will get the brunt of any
frost and the red spider is likely to be rough on them.
In South Africa an iron hook on a wooden handle is
used to remove suckers from the Natal Queens. The writer
has never been able to devise such a hook that will work-
nor to produce a marketable second or later crop from
Natals, which they also do in South Africa.
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
old bulletin. To stop a fire, pull up a row or two of plants.
PINEAPPLE A B C's
Spreading the Harvest
Each variety of pineapples tends to ripen in a period
of about three weeks in the summer. Back from the warm
Indian River ridge in St. Lucie County, Red Spanish, Queens
and Pernambucos start ripening about June 10 in normal
years; Abakkas, July 4; Smooth Cayennes around August 1
and the Sugar Loaf around September 1. Further south
the seasons are a little earlier. So if one wishes to have his
crop come in throughout the summer, one way is to plant
It is possible that a late strain may be found within
any variety-possibly an early strain.
It is reported that maleic hydrazide is used to delay
bloom in Hawaii. It is possible that a method can be worked
out to delay bloom by applying copper in the right amount
at the right time.
Under proper conditions one can start the formation of
a fruit by applying one of several substances to the bud.
Inducing Bloom "Smoking"
Perhaps the most practical substance for use in induc-
ing bloom in Florida is calcium carbide (used in some
acetylene welding outfits). Some growers just drop a few
grains into the buds on cool mornings, repeating in a week.
One method is to pour from a fifth to a third of a cup of
water into the bud with the carbide-it makes no difference
which enters first. From a Puerto Rican grower comes the
recommendation to put 30 gallons of water in a 55 gallon
drum. Introduce twelve ounces of carbide, close the drum
tightly and roll and shift until agitation from the reaction
stops-then draw off and apply-but not by a pressure
Cold water will hold more gas than warm and the writer
has never gotten satisfactory results from one application
except when he used ice water (40 to 60 degrees). By using
ice water at night he expects almost 100% response with
fair sized Queen and Pernambuco plants, nearly as well with
PINEAPPLE A B C's 45
Abakkas, 67% with Red Spanish. CAUTION: THE ACET-
YLENE GAS FORMED IS EXPLOSIVE UNDER PRES-
SURE OR HEATED AND SPARKS MUST BE KEPT
The bulletin from Australia suggests putting 5 or 6
ounces of carbide in 4 gallons of water in an open container
-use as soon as bubbling stops. Treat 80 plants per gallon.
Even with ice water there will be little response after
the temperature of the air reaches 87 degrees.
The bloom starts very soon and in warm weather can
be seen in the bud of the plant in about six weeks. If one
wishes to check before that to see if he got results he can
check in ten days by sacrificing a few plants. Cut off the
top of the stem of the plant, remove the lower leaves and
cut off the others above the top of the stem. With a thin,
sharp blade split in the exact center as shown in the drawing.
In a plant in which no bloom has started there is visible an
oval line at the head of the stem dividing the stem substance
from a layer to which the leaves are attached. If bloom has
started a bulge in this oval is visible at the tip of the stem (the
bud). See illustration.
se crton of p IL,,t ;,, wA;c I,
boom was indsoce-d somc
'te dcys prevIO-Sly
PINEAPPLE AB C's
Repeatedly the writer has started out in the spring with
carbide and ice water and a feeling of unreality-surely this
treatment will not actually produce bloom! But now research
has shown that in Hawaii, bloom may be advanced or re-
traded, the fruit stalk can be strengthened, the "shell" or
peeling strengthened, the weight of the fruit increased as
much as a pound or more each, date of maturity delayed one
to three weeks, sometimes as much as two months, and the
quality of the fruit improved by applying 25 to 100 cc of
solutions of water and any one of several "synthetic hor-
mones", at various times and at varying ratios.
By applying a solution of anywhere from 1 to 16,500
[to 1 to 200,000 of sodium salts of naphthalenacetic acid, or
beta naphthoxy acetic acid, or other specific hormones, bloom
can be advanced; but by using 1 part of the hormone to from
1000 to 10,000 parts of water, the flowering is delayed.
Moreover, after the bloom has been started and before the
fruit is half grown, applications of from 1 to 1000 to 1 to
33,500 directed mostly on the fruit will: enlarge and
strengthen the fruit stalk, increase the weight of the fruit,
improve its quality, strengthen its "shell" and delay its ripen-
ing. Repeated applications enhance the effects. For a more
detailed discussion secure Patents No. 2441163 and 2428335,
issued to Ferdinand P. Mehrlich. Send 25c in cash or money
order to Commissioner of Patents, Washington, D. C., for
In a letter dated January 3, 1956, the President of Ha-
wiian Pineapple Company, Ltd. (to which these patents were
assigned), states that the Company is agreeable to licensing
growers to use these patents for a fee of $50.00 each patent.
1t is to be noted that the patents do not cover inducing or
"advancing" bloom. In Australia alpha naphthaleneacetic
acid is now preferred to carbide. They use a 1 to 200,000
solution, about 2 fluid ounces per plant. WARNING: These
hormones may produce different results in Florida.
When bloom is induced in vigorous, uniform young
plants that have not borne before, the fruit may all ripen in
PINEAPPLE AB C's
about two weeks-but in an older field the varying rates of
growth will make the harvest period longer. When carbide
is applied from May to July 15, harvest may be expected
to start for these varieties about as follows:
Queen and Red Spanish .........-..5 mo.
Abakka and Smooth Cayenne -..5 1/ mo.
Pernambuco ..............................6 mo.
Sugar Loaf ..............................----- ---7 mo.
A few days difference in treatment after July 15 may
result in weeks difference in maturity, depending on tem-
peratures. 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.
To Make Fruit Sweeter
Somewhat in line with this magic is a discovery the
writer believes he has made which seems to apply only to
the type of soil in his field. This hardpan land with a pH
of about 4.3, apparently contains so much iron that either
iron toxicity or manganese deficiency requires frequent
applications of manganese. Manganese sulphate applied to
the fruit three weeks or more before harvest, in the case of
Queens, apparently makes them sweeter, and even when
picked with yellow showing only at the base, they will, on
coloring, be as sweet as those allowed to ripen fully on the
plant. Cold weather, subnormal growth, cultivation or fer-
tilization may upset the process. Abakkas respond as readily,
but may require a little more time; other varieties require two
or more applications. Manganese sulphate applied as dust
or spray has not burned, but a rain within a few days may
wash it off. When lime is added in equal parts to the spray
the spray sticks and is as effective-but if applied less than
five or six weeks before harvest the black residue stains the
PINEAPPLE A B C's
General Suggestions for Sweetness
In general it is held that the sugar content of the fruit
increases very rapidly during the latter days of the ripening
process, so that a fruit picked "green" cannot be so sweet
as one ripened on the plant.
Fruit temperatures depend on air temperatures and the
sunlight striking the fruit. A fruit in open sunshine becomes
hot inside just as a closed car does. Nightingale states that
with an air temperature of 74 degrees it is possible for a
fruit in full sunshine to become 130 degrees inside (in
Hawaii); further, that if the average fruit temperature is
high the week before picking, the fruit will be low in acid-
and vice versa.
S Pineapples grown in the open and on outside rows are
likely to be sweeter, and in cloudy or cool weather less
subject to interior breakdown.
An adequate supply of iron is connected with the prob-
lem. Iron (ferrous ) sulphate in spray is the accepted manner
of application-it seems to be ineffective in the fertilizer.
Light balanced applications of boron, manganese, copper
and zinc may be applied in the fertilizer and are calculated
to improve the flavor. For spraying with iron see "Iron
Chlorosis" under "Fertilization".
Cultivation or fertilization within 3 or 4 weeks of har-
vest may injure the sweetness and flavor. Tobacco dust ap-
plied to a bed of ripening Queens could be tasted in the fruit
picked in about a week.
As a boy, nearly 50 years ago, the writer helped the
hired man pick our Abakka pineapples. Two wheelbarrows
were used, each fitted with a rack to increase the capacity a
little. Fruit was picked at the first sign of maturity as the
practice was to ship by freight to Jacksonville, then by boat
to a northern port. The hired man picked. He would cut
the stem close to the base and if there were nubs or slips
on the base of the fruit he would cut them off smoothly. He
would ordinarily give the crown a shake to get the water out,
PINEAPPLE AB C's
being careful, however, if the crown seemed insecurely at-
tached to the fruit. He tossed the fruit to the "man" at the
wheelbarrow, who gave it another shake and stacked it on
the wheelbarrow carefully. When both wheelbarrows were
loaded they were wheeled to the barn and the pineapples
were placed in the bins in this manner. The first ones were
played on their sides, butts about even with the edge of the
bin, crowns toward the back of the bin. The next ones would
be placed mostly on the crowns of those below, butts still to
the front, which elevated the butts somewhat. As more fruit
was piled in this manner the butts were more and more
elevated. Thus every butt was exposed and most of them ele-
vated to promote drying. It was considered best to let each
fruit dry and cool until the next day. Then each fruit was
wrapped with a generous square of hard finish wrapping
paper, completely covering the butt, and placed snugly in the
slatted crate, the crowns being utilized as much as possible
as padding. This procedure was probably close to the gen-
eral practice with Abakkas at that time. The Red Spanish
were generally broken off instead of being cut and were
handled in baskets as field crates.
Today each grower seems to have a different practice.
Fruit is usually allowed to show more ripeness. In picking,
sometimes fruit can be broken off the stem, at another sea-
son each stem may have to be cut to prevent its breaking up
inside the fruit, "plugging". The writer still uses a wheel-
barrow in his "patch". Two lettuce crates are carried on it
and larger fruit is put in one, smaller or culls are put in
the other. Pieces of corrugated paper from old cartons, cut
to size, are carried and placed on the bottom of the crates
and between layers. Great care is taken to prevent a bruise.
(An ideal field crate would have sides of slender wooden
rounds like chicken crates, so that fruit could be fully sunned
and dried while still in the crate, fruit being laid with butts
to the outside.)
In the packing shed the fruit are placed by size and
set crown down, against the back of the bin first.
PINEAPPLE A B C's
If it is necessary to pick in warm misty weather the
stems and any cut surface should be carefully painted with a
solution of salycilic or benzoic acid. This is to prevent Black
Rot or other infection. Bratley and Mason give this formula:
Alcohol (95% ) .................... ...... 32cc
W ater .......................................... 68cc
Benzoic Acid ...........-- ........---------.... 2.5 grams
The writer uses salycilic acid. Make a stock solution
of salycilic acid, water and alcohol at about the same rate as
above. Keep this in a dark colored container. As needed
use one part of this with two parts of water. (A practical
advantage of having the salycilic acid solution on hand is
that applied to hands and wrists it quickly cures the little
blisters often caused by handling pineapples.) Instead of
either of the above Mr. Radebaugh recommends the use of
Sulfocide. This painting of the cut surfaces should be done
as soon as possible after picking, within two hours anyway.
If Black Rot does show up it is probable that bins, field
crates, picking mittens, etc. should be treated with a fungi-
cide, as the writer has seen the black spores all over the
end of a crate where fruit juice had run. The presence of
decayed fruit around the packing house attracts fruit flies.
These spread the black spores and another form of infection
which prevents stems drying.
When stems are not curing properly the picked fruit
is sometimes left in pathways or on top of plants to get
full benefit of sun and air. In such practice, watch out
In hot weather when fruit is curing properly, if it can
be picked early in the day before the sun has heated it, there
seems to be no reason not to pack right away. One day the
writer packed a lug, selecting the greenest fruit, for ship-
ment to California. They were still very warm when packed.
Each fruit was well wrapped. For some reason the lug was
not shipped, so on the next day it was unpacked and each
fruit was found to be almost fully colored. For long ship-
ments in warm weather the loss of time in allowing fruit to
PINEAPPLE A B Cs
cool over night before packing is more than balanced by the
slower ripening. A desirable alternative would be to have
facilities for cooling fruit to 60 degrees before or right
In pineapple parlance "fancy" has two meanings. In
contrast to the Red Spanish or "common" pineapple the
tenderer varieties are called "fancy". And of course the
best grade of any variety is properly designated as "fancy".
If Florida growers expect luxury prices for their product
they must grade closely. "Plugged" fruit, those with split
cores, raw or extensive cracks at base, or bruises, notably
lopsided, abnormal or blemished fruit, those with crowns
about to fall off and those known to be of inferior quality
should be graded out of the "fancy" pack. Of those rejected
the fruit that will keep well and make good eating may be
graded as "seconds" or "choice"-and the poorer fruit may
he sold by the bushel for "canning".
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 barrel capacity. What was first known as
the standard "Florida crate" and more recently the "Cuban
crate" holds 1.96 bu. and is divided into two compartments.
In this standard crate each fruit was ordinarily well
wrapped with a hard finish paper. The illustration shows
how the Red Spanish fruit were laid. There were three
layers. Three four pounders per layer in each half made
18 to the crate. Four three pounders per layer in each half
made a crate of "24's". Five, six, seven and eight to the
layer in each half made 30's, 36's, 42's and 48's. Seventy-
two pounds of fruit per crate is the legal weight in Florida.1
A crate should be filled snugly to prevent fruit from bruising
PINEAPPLE AB C's
Long type pineapples like the Abakkas were laid length-
wise for sizes up to 24's. 30's could usually be packed
Recently Cuba began using a half section of this crate in
the Florida trade, and it is now called a crate. Florida growers
use various cartons of a bushel or less. For the fancy pack
the writer prefers a carton with the dimensions of the half
bushel tomato lug. For local deliveries various used wire-
bound crates will be found satisfactory, if lined with cor-
rugated paper or newspaper.
'.., *" ,
Packed Crate of Spanish Pineapples, 30 Pack. Each Fruit is Wrapped.
(Reprint from Fla. Ag. Exp. Sta. Rn. 84, 1906, Pineapple Culture IV-Handling
the Crop, by H. Harold Hume.)
Where excelsior or newspaper is used for packing,
strong cartons without ventilation carry pineapples satis-
The most important point in advertising is to have a
PINEAPPLE A B C's
By harvest time have packing supplies on hand and
arrangements for marketing.
Develop local markets as far as possible. The railway
express minimum rate increased from 85c to $1.85 between
1950 and 1954, moreover, discounts for large shipments are
not allowed as formerly. The writer ships by express only
on orders or at crop peaks when he has no other choice.
Some growers are located where they can do better shipping
Sometime during any summer a grower may have to
pick much heavier than ordinary. Sometimes his fruit may
be poor for a while. It would be well to have northern
outlets lined up to receive shipments at such times. Someone
in the old home town might be interested in handling some
Beware of shipping pineapples around Christmas be-
cause of the Christmas traffic jams and cold weather. The
express company will not make good when fruit is ruined by
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, Fruit Storage Investigations, as
quoted by Clark, says:
"Storage investigations reveal that pineapple can not be
stored at temperatures below 450 F. .... At 400 F. and under,
disorganization of the cells and tissues take place . At
temperatures of 450 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."
If one is to ship by refrigerated truck there must be an
understanding about the temperature to be maintained. A
54 PINEAPPLE A B C's
temperature of 60 degrees would be desirable. See "Black-
heart" under DISEASE, ENEMIES, etc.
Miller and Blair produced Red Spanish on their best ex-
perimental plot at Jensen at the rate of 5371/2 crates per
acre. In one instance a ten year old field of Red Spanish
on the river front south of Ft. Pierce produced 300 crates
per acre. But with Reds the average was probably nearer
200 crates. Yields of 586 crates and more per acre have
been reported with Abakkas-such a yield would amount to
20 tons. The first crop is expected to be the best. For one
reason or another, yields rarely attain the theoretical maxi-
mum in Florida.
Flavor, size and vigor depend upon soil, fertilizer, cul-
ture, climate, etc. Unless otherwise stated the seasons given
below are for St. Lucie County in a normal year. Drouth
and cold weather delay maturity. Seasons farther south
are a little earlier, and in central Florida are later (Rade-
Smooth Cayenne fruit-Photograph by D. S. Radebaugh, Lakeview Pineapple
Plantations, Sebring, Florida
PINEAPPLE A B C's
The Smooth Cayenne is the most important variety,
worldwide. The large smooth-leaved plants produce a fruit
up to eight pounds or more. The slightly yellow flesh has
excellent flavor and enough fiber to make it an excellent
canner. The season in Florida is given as from June to
August. In St. Lucie County they usually ripen in August.
This Smooth Cayenne was once grown under sheds at
Punta Gorda, St. Petersburg, Orlando and elsewhere in
Florida. It is the variety grown in Hawaii and the leading
variety in Queensland.
Recently a "white" fleshed Cayenne, called "Esmeralda"
by some, has been introduced into Florida from Mexico.
Radebaugh describes this as a very vigorous strain, well
suited to Florida conditions, flatwoods, etc., producing slips
Specimens of 5 varieties, in order: 1. Red Spanish; 2. "Congo Red" (a seed-1
ling 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.
PINEAPPLE AB C's
well, and strong suckers. Some authorities think it is not a
Second in worldwide importance is the Red Spanish, the
leading variety of Cuba, Puerto Rico and formerly in Florida.
It does best on "good" spruce pine ridge land as along the
Indian River where once about a million crates were pro-
duced annually. The plant is vigorous, disease resistant
and long lived, some fields having produced continuously
for upwards of twenty-five years. A nice sized fruit of
this variety is a three pounder, but they make up to six
pounds. The white flesh is firm with strong fiber and excel-
lent flavor. It is the best shipper. The season is May and
June. From "smoking" to mature fruit is 5 months up. Propa-
gation is mostly by slips. It is quite resistant to mealy bug
Of third importance is the Queen, the leading variety
in South Africa and of importance in Australia. It is ordi-
narily not so juicy as most varieties. The flesh is a rich
yellow, the flavor rich and sweet, the core often quite tender.
Because of the attractive aroma and its habit of holding up
well after coloring all the way up, the Queen is especially
suited to grocery store sales. The eyes are sometimes small
and pointed making the fruit have a somewhat immature
appearance some seasons-again it has larger, rather smooth
eyes. The season is June and July. Under best conditions
the Queens mature fruit about four and a half months after
"carbiding". Propagation is generally by sucker.
The Natal Queen, also called the "Natal", is small, 1
to 21/2 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
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
PINEAPPLE A B C's 57
C~* L~ '
MacGregor Queens in fall of 1955 . .were planted in 1946 ..
Platts Patch, Ft. Pierce
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 recom-
mend plowing annually. In Florida second crops have not
been successful. Of this variety Mr. D. S. Radenbaugh writes:
"It is a variety that fits in well with modern machinery in
growing, harvesting, etc. This variety seems to do so well on
the drier high sandy land and produces a much larger fruit
than on lower land where the Abachi seems to thrive."
The MacGregor Queen was introduced from Australia
in 1938. The fruit cannot be distinguished from the Natal,
except that it averages larger-a good first crop from slips on
flatwoods land should average 31 pounds per fruit. The
58 PINEAPPLE A B C's
Pernambuco pineapple displayed by
Mrs. H. J. Emminger, Lake Placid
plant suckers more freely than the Abakka, but not pro-
fusely as the Natal. It produces usable slips, and produces
slips about as well out of season, and with forced bloom,
as in the summer.
Pernambuco (white Abacaxi do Pernambuco, Abacaxi,
Eleuthera, English) is generally spoken of as having white
flesh but there is a slightly yellow tinge to the ripe fruit. It
has a rich fragrance, is very juicy with little fiber, and when
right, is very sweet with little acid. Johnson says "The Per-
nambuco is not surpassed in quality by any other variety of
pineapple." In size it averages smaller than the Abakka but
specimens may weigh up to 5 pounds. Often the core is little
more than a tough string. Like the Queen, it may have very
small pointed eyes under some conditions, and again much
larger, quite smooth eyes. The peel is exceptionally thin.
It is claimed that it never gets "black heart".
PINEAPPLE AB C's 59
As a rule the crown is rather stiff, the tips of the leaves
tending to come close together. It persists in making slips
in conditions where other varieties produce few or none.
Crowns are often double or multiple and slips often double,
but it seems useless to rogue these out in planting material.
Slips never grow out of the base of the fruit. Very often the
fruit can be picked without a knife, but some seasons it will
Mr. Radebaugh states that it needs less space than other
varieties (see illustration). This means that after it is estab-
lished weeds do not bother it much.
The season is long, from June 10 into August. It seems
to take six months from inducing bloom to harvest.
There are several drawbacks to this delicious variety.
It leaves the buyer guessing. In June it may be over ripe
inside when from the outside it appears just beginning to
ripen. Later in the season a fruit may have to be fully
colored to be good. On some soils it is inclined to be insipid.
In wet seasons the stem is inclined to remain wet and it is
likely to be the tenderest of shippers, although in a dry
season it may dry readily and ship and keep extremely well.
Sometimes the fruit sunburns badly, even when standing
Field of Natal Queen-D. S. Radebaugh Pineapple Plantations, Sebring.
PINEAPPLE A B C's
A Pernambuco Pineapple grown in a Can-Radebaugh.
erect, again it stands sun well. On the fruit stand it seems
to lack eye appeal.
Abakka (Abacaxi, Abbachi, Abaka, Golden Abachi,
Bacaxi). Once there were three displays of this variety at
a show in Miami-from three different growers-and each
grower used a different spelling. The writer obstinately
clings to the spelling he remembers from boyhood days in
An advantage it has for this locality is its habit of
sending up bloom late so that late frosts were usually
avoided. 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 "carbiding"; see under "Inducing Bloom". The Abakka
commonly has slips attached to the base of the fruit. In
order to have sound fruit for shipping these slips should be
cut off when fruit is about a quarter grown. This should be
PINEAPPLE A B Cs 61
done in bright sunshine to avoid infection. Staking, especially
around the edge of the fields, is often necessary. Propagation
is commonly by slip. It is especially subject to "black heart",
and is usually reluctant to ripen all the way up.
Cabezona (Puerto Rican), of no present importance in
Florida was once grown here in limited numbers. It is
notable for its size, weighing up to fifteen pounds. In Florida
it was especially susceptible to disease.
Congo is a practically wild variety with small fruit, deep
eyes and poor flavor. However there are in the state at
least two seedling strains from this Belgian Congo parent.
To make a distinction the writer has used the term "Congo
Red" for the more civilized seedling strains, both very
similar as to fruit but the foliage of one strain is very dark
and the other light green.
The bright red bloom is very ornamental for an extended
period. Multiple and rosette crowns and slips are common
and practically all slips grow out of base of the fruit. It is
difficult to cut these off when the fruit is ripe but the cut
cures over almost invariably. In very hot dry weather if the
fruit is not covered there is a tendency for the core to
crack, ruining that portion of the fruit above the crack.
Staking is usually necessary in the open as the weight of
crown and slips is often considerable. The fruit weighs
up to five pounds. The eyes are usually large. There may be
a tendency toward vase shaped fruit. The fruit is sturdy
with a fiber comparable to the Red Spanish, although under
adverse conditions the fruit may be woody, again tasteless.
Under good conditions the flesh is very well flavored and
ripens all the way to the crown. The ripe fruit has a
shiny, waxed appearance, especially sometimes in the fall.
Usually the eyes are deep. With some selection a very good
strain should be obtained from this very showy variety.
The season is from about July 15 to August 15. From
"carbiding" to maturity the period is about 41/2 months.
The Sugar Loaf gets its name from the resemblance of
its shape to that of the loaf of brown sugar in Latin Ameri-
62 PINEAPPLE A B C's
A nice Abakka-with slips. This variety has great eye appeal on the fruit stand.
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 pineapple can be pulled out easily the fruit is ripe. When
the fruit approaches maturity it must be watched with
special care that worms are not eating holes in it-on sides
or shoulder of this fruit. Because of the numerous slips it is
often difficult to tell when it is ready for distant shipment.
If the base of the fruit is yellowish it may be picked. It
makes more suckers than the Red Spanish. The slips are
inclined to be slender, rarely grow out of the fruit. The stem
is short and staking is not often required, appropriate fea-
ures in a pineapple that ripens during the storm period from
PINEAPPLE A B C's
The Sugar Loaf. In Latin America brown sugar is sold in cone shaped cakes,
hence the name derives not only from the sweetness but also from the conical
shape, typical but not universal in this variety.
PINEAPPLE A B C's
August to October. The period between "smoking" and
maturity seems to be at least seven months. There are many
strains of the Sugar Loaf, but of these only the Black Jamaica
need be mentioned as there are a few in the state hardly
distinguishable by their blackness before ripening from the
Sugar Loaf from Cuba. Because of the name, no plant sells
more readily than the Sugar Loaf but because of its rather
drab appearance the fruit does not sell well on the market.
It is a very poor shipper.
All fruits of the Sugar Loaf varieties do not always con-
form to the typical cone shape, sometimes being quite
globular in shape.
Wild Brazilian (Brazilian Scarlet) makes a very large
vigorous plant with very large spines about two to the
inch. The bloom is large and retains a gorgeous scarlet
color for a long time. The fruit is of medium size with a
heavy vicious crown and thorns on the bracts or "scales".
The fruit is a very whitish yellow when ripe, and is full
of seeds. For ten years or so the writer considered it in-
edible but then discovered that when cut at just the right
stage it has a rich, syrupy juice, sweet all the way up. Be-
cause of the fiber, and the seeds, it is not exactly edible-but
it is ornamental.
The other pineapples in the list are classified as Ananas
ativus (Lindl.) but this variety is classified is Ananas
Besides these mentioned there are many strains and more
lames, from the Ananas michrostachys, another wild Bra-
zilian with a fruit about half the size of a man's thumb, some-
imes, to the Ananassa bracamorensis, said to weigh as much
as 25 to 30 pounds (Johnson).
Disease, Enemies, Etc.
Interior Breakdown (Black Heart) appears under two
different sets of conditions-is indicated by brown spots in
the fruit when caused by cloudy weather. Brown cores and
dark spoiled areas, hence called "Black Heart", more
PINEAPPLE AB C's 65
quickly inducing decay, are caused by low temperatures-
below about 45 degrees for about ten hours may cause it.
The fruit loses flavor and the spots enlarge as the fruit
ripens. Abakkas are specially subject to the brown spotting.
Slender Queens are more susceptible to the cold damage;
"fat" ones less. Queens may be affected before New Years
Day and not after. The writer believes he has not observed
either of these in Pernambucos, Red Spanish or Smooth
Cayennes, although it is known to have affected the last
named. This breakdown, from either cause, is more prev-
alent in a shaded field.
Black Rot or Soft Rot is caused by a fungus that fills
the core with black spores. When picking fruit in warm wet
weather, especially if fruit is subject to rain or mist before
stems have cured, paint stems promptly with benzoic or saly-
cilic acid or Sulfocide-see under "Harvesting". If it ap-
pears, field crates and bins should be treated with a fungi.
cide and all spoiled fruit carried off promptly.
Blisters form under the skin of Abakka fruit during
ripening in warm, wet weather. It may be due to improper
Chlorosis is a yellowing of the plant, in Florida gen
erally due to too high a concentration of calcium carbonat
in the soil. Spraying as needed with ferrous sulphate is
recommended. (See Iron Chlorosis under Fertilization.)
Using a mulch, using sulphate of ammonia in the fertilizers
and applying sulphur, by lowering the pH, may make the
iron in the soil available.
Cracks in the stem of the fruit, causing fruit to be
crooked, undeveloped on the side above the crack, and cracks'
in the base of the fruit are due to too much nitrogen. Possibly
applications of phosphorus or potash would reduce damage.
Avoid by using fertilizer cautiously during the fruiting
Vertical cracks on the sides of very smooth, shiny fruit
nearing maturity may be caused by heat, and also by an
excess of potash. If caused by too much potash a light appli-
PINEAPPLE A B C's
cation of sulphate of ammonia or urea, to the plants (not
directly on the fruit) will stop further cracking.
Crows sometimes bite into the shoulders of pineapples.
If the grower does not put poison in these holes or take
other effective measures promptly his crop may be destroyed
in a day or two. Barium carbonate will do, and is not very
Curving of the plants may occur when about six months
old. They will probably straighten up.
Holes eaten in the base of fruit in latter July and
August are probably due to a worm that climbs up at
ight or in cloudy weather, rather than to roaches. Cutworm
ait sprinkled lightly around each fruit is very effective-
avoid getting on fruit.
Kidney shaped fruit, similar in appearance to fruit
crooked by a cracked stem, may be caused by too much
eat on that side. Shading or straightening the fruit may
allow quick recovery. Where there is a great deal of avail-
ble iron in the soil fruit may likewise stop growth on one
ide and become woody and of poor flavor. Manganese sul-
hate or Mangano dusted or sprayed directly on the fruit
ill cause it to recover a great deal in shape, texture and
lavor in as little as three weeks time.
Leaf Spot-"Whenever pineapple leaves are wounded
y rubbing against each other, by bruising by the wind, or by
rasshopper bites, a white straw-yellow or black spot forms."
Johnson) This leaf spot is due to the same fungus, Thielavi-
psis, as base rot and black rot. Sunlight and dry conditions
educe its effects, while humid conditions promote it. Leaf
Spot is not generally very serious.
ealy bug-see under Wilt.
The Palmetto beetle, Rhynchophorus cruentatus (Fab.),
enters the bud of the plant and lays eggs in the young
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
PINEAPPLE A B C's
develop, usually malformed. 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 more from the pineapple field.
Rabbits, especially where plants are covered as with
grass or palm fans in the winter, often eat the leaves off the
plants from the ground up to as high as they can reach.
Castor pomace in the winter fertilizer seems to discourage
cially after the rabbits have trimmed off the leaves. The
sometimes cut the plant down, and often destroy young
ratoons and suckers. The damage to small ratoons an
suckers often goes unnoticed but may be very serious. Ii
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 No. 8, U. S. Dept. of Interior
Supt. of Documents, Washington, D. C., price 10 cents
To keep rats from starting on plants use castor pomace i
the fertilizer, 200 pounds to the ton seems to be sufficient.
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 b(
applied. It probably rarely kills the vermin but it make,
them sick of pineapple.
The Red Spider, Stigmaeus floridanus (Banks) is
small mite which can be seen with the naked eye as just
small red spot on the white part of the leaf of slips an
crowns especially. They occur in colonies which give a red
dish tinge to areas covered. These areas later become brown
and then black where decay organisms have gained entrance.
Infestations become worse in hot weather so that severe
damage may become apparent toward the end of July. When
crowns are badly infested, bacterial infection spreads from
PINEAPPLE AB C's
the crown down to the fruit, showing first in the creases
of the fruit and causing premature coloring of the upper
In the past this mite was not commonly of much import-
ance but where it is necessary to use parathion frequently
to control mealy bug this pest is becoming very serious,
destroying slips and fruit. Except perhaps sometimes in wet
weather the white ends of the leaves where this mite lives
are so close together that water, dust or spray will not pene-
trate and there is no way to reach it. The best that can be
done is to use sulphur with the parathion-it is effective
as far as it penetrates.
The one time the red spider can be reached is at plant-
ing time. Dipping plants in emulsion containing two pints of
Systox per 100 gallons of water gets it by penetrating the
sap. This is now a "registered" treatment. This same dip
should be fairly effective against mealy bugs. SYSTOX IS
DANGEROUS TO INHALE OR TOUCH. USE ONLY AS
DIRECTED. TREATED PLANTS SHOULD BE HANDLED
WITH NATURAL RUBBER GLOVES, EVEN AFTER
FHEY ARE DRY.
Root-knot nematodes and nematodes that do not cause
nots on the roots of pineapples have been blamed for the
ying out of the old pineapple fields along the Indian River.
Fhe writer suspects there were other contributing causes-
see discussion under History. However satisfactory yields
ire not to be expected on infested soil.
In general the nematode does not seem to be a problem
n pineapple fields where new land was used in the first
lace. Precautions should be taken not to bring in infesta-
ion on tools, plants that have had roots in infested soil, etc.
Experiments in Hawaii (Carter) indicate that the treatment
of soil with 200 pounds per acre of "D-D Mixture" is very
effective. Other soil fumigants are now available but one
should not make a commercial planting on infested ground.
PINEAPPLE A B C's
Root rot-Not only newly set out plants but old plants
may be attacked by fungi causing the roots to rot. Injuries
caused by insects, tools, excessive water and fertilizer injuries
may prepare the way for these attacks. Pulling a plant up
and exposing the butt to the sun for several weeks may effect
a cure. In fact a pineapple plant sick from almost any cause
will usually respond to this treatment.
Sanding is the filling of the bud of small plants with
sand. This seems to bother Red Spanish especially and is
of course worse on loose sandy soils. Filling the bud of the
slip with an organic 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
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 shallower rooted varieties this is not recommended.
The Pineapple Scale, Diapsis bromeliae (Kerner) isl
seen now and then, the male a white pencil shaped fellow, the
female covered with a round scale. Yellow spots on leaves
and fruit are a symptom. The writer has not seen great
damage from this insect. Parathion is effective against it.
Spike is a disease causing short wedge-shaped leaves or
long narrow leaves probably due to improper fertilization.
usually too much phosphoric acid. Spiky planting material
should not be used. A change in the plant's diet may effect
"Wilt is one of the most serious pineapple troubles an
its causes have been most obscure. The first symptoms o
wilt are usually in the color of the leaves which changes t
a reddish yellow. The leaves lose their rigidity, start to
wither from the tips, and gradually dry up turning hard and
brown. If any fruit is produced, it is usually shrunken and
There are various causes of wilt. One common cause
is nitrogen deficiency. In this case the small leaves in the
heart remain green.
PINEAPPLE A B C's
rhe Pineapple Mealy Bug (Pseudococcus brevipes, Cockerell). Photograph
by Westgate, Subtropical Experiment Station, Homestead, Florida-"shows
mealy bugs below the sawdust mulch."
. . .
PINEAPPLE A B C's
Too high a concentration of minor elements appears
to cause a wilt or decline.
Nematode wilt is a slow wilt of stunted, impoverished
Swamp wilt occurs where drainage is poor. Varieties
differ in their resistance to the different wilts.
Quick wilt or mealy bug wilt is the sudden collapse of
large, healthy, dark green plants caused by a virus or toxin
carried by the pineapple mealy bug, Pseudococcus brevipes
(Cockerell), "the first sign being pale color and bending
of the heart leaves." (Topper) Whether it will be a quick
or relatively slow wilt depends on the condition of the plants,
the density of infestation, and the material on which the bugs
previously fed. This disease is often characterized by green
spots in the discolored areas and on the fruit.
The adult female of this soft bodied, sucking insect
is shaped something like a lady beetle but it is covered with
evenly arranged tufts of a cottony, waxy secretion which
sheds water like a ducks back and doubtless protects the
creature from the effect of many sprays. A fringe of wax
protrudes around the lower edge. This mealy bug reaches
a length of about a sixth of an inch. Many varieties of ants
take care of these mealy bugs so as to enjoy the "honey dew'
secreted. In dry weather they carry them down to the under
ground roots, in wet weather they place them under the base o
fruit. Commonly they are found on the white, tender part o
the leaf where the leaves are pressed close together and on th
roots close to the plant.
Dusting or spraying with parathion is highly effective
in controlling the mealy bugs in the field. Wolfenbarger an
Spencer in Circular S-36 U. of Fla. Experiment Stations
"Insect Control on Pineapples" recommend 85 to 90 pound
of 1% dust per acre. For spraying the writer would suggest
six tenths of a pound of technical parathion in one of th
liquid forms to 500 or more gallons per acre. It is his opin-
ion from limited experience that this dosage or more, applied
in several thousand gallons of water, through a sprinkler
72 PINEAPPLE A B C's
irrigation system is better, especially on old plantings. Wol-
fenbarger and Spencer suggest inspections every month or
two and spraying when infestation of three adjacent plants
is found. Thirty days before harvest would be a good time
to spray or dust if there is likelihood of an infestation.
In preparing material for planting near old plantings
the Systox dip discussed under "Red Spider" will give prac-
tical control. But when a new field is to be planted it is
highly desirable to destroy all the mealy bugs and red spiders
at the old field. (The writer has seen plants hauled to the
middle of a new field to be treated!) Probably the only way
to kill all the mealy bugs on planting material is to fumigate
with methyl bromide. Complete kill of the mealy bugs may
be expected by using 2 pounds per 1000 cu. ft. (capacity of
chamber) for 2 hours with temperature at 78 degrees or
higher. Since a few red spiders may survive this treatment
the writer considers that experiments should be continued
to determine the time at this dosage necessary to get all the
red spiders, probably 15 minutes longer would suffice. Per-
haps Pernambucos could not stand this as they sometimes
show burning from the two hour treatment.
Methyl bromide is put up in one pound cans under pres-
ure and vaporizes upon release. It is heavier than air and
or this reason we use a small electric fan in the gassing
chamber to keep the gas from settling. The gas is non-
nflammable but is especially dangerous to handle as it has
little odor. A good plan is to make the gassing chamber
00 cu. ft. or a multiple thereof, so that whole cans of gas
an be used at a time. However, an applicator with a gradu-
ted cylinder is available which permits the use of any
desired part of a pound of gas and stores the rest. A breezy
and shaded location for the gassing chamber is desirable
to avoid danger of the plants 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 AB C's
As a check on the effectiveness of each fumigation the
writer placed a window in the wall of fumigation chamber.
Before the chamber is sealed a few large ants are im-
prisoned in a bottle with perforated metal top and bottle
is placed inside the window. If ants succumb during the
period it is assumed that fumigation is successful.
It seems advisable to let plants air out a couple of days
after fumigation before planting. It has been established that
if temperatures fall below 70 degrees the nights after fumi-
gating sweet potatoes with methyl bromide undue breakdown
occurs. There appears to be a similar undetermined critical
temperature for pineapples, perhaps close to 70 degrees.
Plants fumigated with methyl bromide showed no notice-
able mealy bug infestation a year later while fruit was
being picked and planting material gathered, although there
were spots of infestation in nearby plots that had been treated
with cyanide gas. A careful check of ten suckers from
one plot by Mr. Max Osburn's office showed one bug on
The writer secured apparently excellent control of ants
for a long period by a granular 2 per cent aldrin but he
became so sensitive to the stuff that he had to discontinue
its use. There is need for some new long-lasting insecticide
that will control both mealy bugs and ants without making
the Red Spider worse, as parathion does-and one that will
have little effect on warm blooded animals.
Observations on Selecting A Pineapple
in the Market
The primary sign of ripeness in a pineapple is the yel-
low color extending upwards from the base. Unfortunately
some varieties are sometimes ripe while still uncolored,
and others, like the Abakka, may not ripen all the way up
before they are too ripe at the base. Of pineapples of a
given variety, a "fat" one of good size with large eyes and
pronounced fragrance should be selected. The idea held by
PINEAPPLE AB C's
many shoppers that the pineapple is ripe if the crown leaves
come out easily has no foundation in fact. Generally the
ripest of a lot may be assumed to have been picked ripest,
hence be sweetest.
Some pineapples assume a "wet" translucent appearance
inside when fully ripe-this is called "water core". The fruit
has lost sweetness but is still wholesome. If a pineapple
tastes good it is not too ripe to eat, even if it tastes a little
General Properties of the Pineapple (Abbott)
Pineapples, canned or fresh, are excellent sources of
vitamins A, B and C. Pineapple contains a protein splitting
enzyme, bromelin, a powerful digestive of albuminous mat-
ter. Most active between 90 degrees and 108 degrees F. this
enzyme is destroyed at 126 degrees F. As pineapple also
loses so much flavor in cooking, it is a shame to cook a good
fresh one. Pineapples are supposed to induce a good appetite.
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
ets a sector from "rind" to the core and eats it off the
"rind". As the base and core are the sweetest parts of the
ineapple 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.
Some people buy a pineapple to "smell up" the house
but others hold that the proper use of a pineapple is to make
a pie. In the making of the pie there are again diverging
schools of thought. Some chop the pineapple fine and
PINEAPPLE AB C's
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 cocoa-
nut or what you will to the fruit, then refill each hollowed
out pineapple and replace the crown. Somewhat larger pine-
apples are split from end to end, including the crown, and
hollowed out, for two servings.
Barbosa mentions pineapple omelets and fishballs with
pineapple. If one has pineapple to cook, slices on top of
the dish of baked beans or on top of the baked ham go well.
The ancient Greeks believed that their gods on Mt.
Olympus feasted on a very dainty dish which they called
"ambrosia". The modern recipe for ambrosia is to chop
up fresh pineapple and any other fruit at hand such as
apples, grapes, oranges, etc., and add either grated fresh
cocoanut or shredded cococanut.
But for the very best dish that can be made, make a
shortcake, open and butter while hot and pile chopped-up
fresh pineapple between and on top.
Deep frozen pineapples are the next best thing to fresh
ones. Very sweet small Queens are sometimes put in the deep
freeze with no more preparation than peeling and packaging.
Mr. Benjamin Baker of Key West planted pineapples on
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
Pioneer Mechanization-M. E. Card, 1911-Plantation on ridge near Ft. Pierce.
-Kindness of Fred Alispaw
PINEAPPLE AB C's
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 charter
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 carried
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 51/2 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 McCormack and Hubbs
and they unloaded them at their own expense.
"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
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 were gathered from
"Captain T. E. Richards of Eden, Florida, was credited
with originating modern pineapple culture. His first plant-
ings were made on the Island opposite Eden, but proved
a failure due to bears eating up most of the ripened fruit.
About 1905-Red Spanish Pineapples grown under shed at Stuart. Capt. W. H. Bessey is said to have planted this acre without paths
and to have produced 600 crates, which would be over 20 tons. Pineapples thrive better in half shade than in open. Quite a number
of acreg were shaded around Stuart ad lensen. Po 1ranh. kindness of Stanley KitchinI
PINEAPPLE A B C's
His work was then transferred to the mainland at E
which proved successful and his first shipments were rr
in 1884." (J. W. Corbett as quoted by Spencer.)
Most of the pineapples grown on the Keys and on
Indian River were Red Spanish. In 1870 Captain Burn
of Canaveral secured a boat load of plants from a Mr.
Milan (Spencer). These plants were Queens, known in I
ida as Egyptian Queens. Smooth Cayenne plantings u
sheds were made in Volusia, Orange, Lee and other court
The Florida East Coast Railway reached Ft. Pier(
1895 and thereafter, in spite of serious freezes now
then, the industry expanded rapidly. In 1899 there
1325 acres in pineapples and the crop was 95,442 cr
The 1908-09 crop was 1,110,547 crates, and the acr
was probably about 5,000 according to Vosbury and Winm
By that year the Cuban crop had reached a total of 1,294.
crates and markets were oversupplied. The average I
to Florida growers for 1909 being given as 76c per (
while the cost of producing a crate was figured at 95
$1.05 (Figures from Spencer).
Benefited by water rates Cuba could ship a crate to
cago at a lower rate than Florida could. In 1913 the Ur
wood Tariff reduced the rate on imported pineapple
worse troubles were befalling the growers. In 1910 '
in fields along the Indian River began to show sign
failing, a red wilt developing. Roots rotted off, plants
died. Gradually whole fields were affected. Young f
set out might thrive for a year and then quickly succ
With the war in Europe proper fertilizer, especially po
became ever harder to get and finally freezes in 1917
1918 virtually wiped out the industry.
Experts investigated and concluded that the root
nematode was responsible, recommended planting im
cover crops until the nematode was starved out. The v
feels that this diagnosis is incomplete. He recently (1
visited an eight year old field of Red Spanish on the r
The field is playing out but this is attributed to cold
80 PINEAPPLE A B C's
drouth. The remaining plants have a good color and do not
seem to be diseased. No mealy bug was observed. Live
roots taken from a few of the smallest plants along the edge
of the surviving area appeared to have no root knot or
injury-most of the roots were dead. Yet at the edge of
the field melon vines had root knot. The writer suggests
that Red Spanish pineapples in the ridge area would not
have been so much affected by root knot were they not
weakened by other factors. He suggests two:
1. 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. The writer suggests that fields along the
Indian River received appreciable amounts of magnesium
and beneficial amounts of boron and other elements from the
salt spray blown over from the river. The Indian River was
salty because, with an inlet at Sewall's Point, one at Ft.
Pierce and others far to the north, recurring tides kept the
south end quite salty. But in 1909 a storm virtually closed
the inlet at Ft. Pierce and the storm of 1910 finished the
closing. As soon as the inlet was virtually closed drainage
from the mainland began driving the salt water out of the
river and diluting it. Year after year the water became
sweeter until after a heavy rain in 1915 the water was so
fresh that all the clams and many fish in the river died.
As the water gradually became fresher the spray blown
from it brought less nourishment to the fields. It may be
no mere coincidence that failure in the pineapple fields began
to show a little in 1910 and became more pronounced as
time went on.
2. The water table under the ridge has gone down a
good deal since early times.
Pineapple acreage in the state reached a low point in the
late '20's. In about 1930 Mr. R. A. Carlton, Agricultural
Agent for the Seaboard, became active in efforts to revive
the industry and according to Spencer there were about
PINEAPPLE A B C's 81
250 acres in the state in 1934, the Abakkas now being com-
paratively more important than formerly. Through inquiries
addressed to county agents and others the writer estimated
that in the spring of 1945 the acreage was about 200. In
October, 1955, the acreage remained about the same.
82 PINEAPPLE A B C's
Mechanization of the industry-Miami Pineapple Plantation, 1950.
-Photographs furnished by J. E. Abbott
PINEAPPLE A B C's
ABBOTT, OUIDA D.
General Properties of Some Tropical and Subtropical Fruits of Florida:
U. of Florida Ag. Exp. Sta. Bn. 237; 1931; pp. 23-25.
Cultura, Commercio e Industria do Abacaxi: Empreza Editora da "Chara-
cas e Quintoes" R. da Assemblea 16; Sao Paulo, Brazill; 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: January. 1939.
Soil Treatment with Special Reference to Fumigation with )-I) Mixture:
Jour. Ec. Ent.; Feb., 1945; Vol. 38, No. 1, pp. 35-44.
CLARKE, LLEWELLYN H.
Pineapple Culture in the Eastern Districts of the Cape Province: Dept.
of Ag., Union of South Africa; Government Printer, Pretoria (3rd), 1931.
FLETCHER, C. C.
Conservation of Fertilizer Materials from Minor Sources: U.S.D.A. Mis-
cellaneous Publications 136. 1932; Govt. Printing Office. Washington.
D. C.; 5c.
GILE, P. L.
Relation of Calcareous Soils to Pineapple Chlorosis: Bn. 11, Porto Rico
Ag. Exp. Sta., 1911, 1. S. Govt. Printing Office, Washington. D. C.
HENRICKSEN, HENRY C.
Fundamentals of Pineapple Growing: Proc. of Fla. State Hort. Soc. 1939;
Filter Press Cake Increases Pineapple Yields in Puerto Rico. Bin. 104,
U. of P. R. Ag. Exp. Sta. 1952.
JOHNSON, MAXWELL O.
The Pineapple; Paradise of the Pacific Press, Honolulu, T. H.. 1935.
The most comprehensive text on the subject.
MILLER, H. K. and BLAIR, A. W.
Pineapple Culture III, Fertilizer Experiments: Bn. 83, Fla. Ag. Exp. Sta.,
MILLER, H. K. and HUME, HAROLD
Pineapple Culture 1, Soils: Bn. 68, Fla. Ag. Exp. Sta., 1903.
MITCHELL, P. and CANNON, R. C.
The Pineapple, Advisory Leaflet No. 286, Division of Plant Industry,
Queensland Dept. of Agriculture and Stock, 1953.
Symbiotic Nitrogen Fixation in the Genus Casuarina; Soil Science No. 6,
December, 1933; pp. 409-425.
PINEAPPLE A B C's
NIGHTINGALE, G. T.
Nitrate and Carbohydrate Reserves in Relation To Nitrogen Nutrition
of Pineapple; The Botanical Gazette, Vol. 103, No. 3, March 1942 pp.
Potassium and Phosphate Nutrition of Pineapple in Relation To Nitrate
and Carbohydrate Reserves; Bot. Gaz. Vol. 104, No. 2, Dec. 1942,
RADEBAUGH, D. S.
Growing Pineapples il Central Florida: Fla. State Hort. Soc. Proceedings,
1943; p. 131ff. Discusses the "new" Smooth Cayenne introduced from
RAMIREZ-SILVA, FRANCISCO J.
The Effect of Certain Micronutrient Elements on the Growth and Yield
of Pineapple Plants. Jour. of Ag. of U. of Puerto Rico. Vol. XXX,
No. 4, Oct. 1946, pp. 197-250.
RODRIGUEZ, A. G.
Influence of Smoke and Ethylene on the Fruiting of Pineapples: Jour.
Dept. Agr., Puerto Rico, vol. 16; pp. 5-18.
ROLFS. P. H.
Pineapple Growing: U.S.D.A. Bn. 140, 1901.
SPENCER. L. E.
Assembled Data Concerning Pineapple Culture in Florida: F.E.C. Ry.,
Miami. Fla., 1934. (Mimeographed Volume)
TOPPER. B. F.
How To ;row Pineapples. Extension Circular No. 49, Dept. of Ag.,
Jamaica. B. W. I. 1952.
VOSBURY. E. D. and WINSTON, J. R.
Pineapple Culture in Florida: U.S.D.A. Bn. 1237 (1921).
WINCHESTER, O. R.
Observations on Growing Pineapples at Flatwoods Plantation: Proc. Fla.
State Hort. Soc., 1941; p. 139. Describes methods of "smoking" and
WILCOX. E. V. and KELLY, W. P.
The Effect of Manganese on Pineapple Plants and the Ripening of the
Pineapple Fruit: Hawaiian Agr. Exp. Sta. Bn. 28; 1912.
,WOLFENBARGER, D. O.
Systox. A Systemic Insecticide for Pineapple Mite Control, Pr. Fla.
State Hort. Soc. 1952, pp. 197-199.
WOLFENBARGER, D. 0. and SPENCER, HERBERT
Insect Control on Pineapples, Circular S-36 U. of F. Ag. Exp. Stations,
YOUNG. FLOYD D.
Frost and the Prevention of Frost Damage: U.S.D.A. Farmers Bn. 1588
Revised 1940; Supt. of Documents, Washington. D. C. 10c.