Table of Contents
Yadava, U.L., J.A. Burris, and D. McCrary. 1990. Papaya: A potential annual
crop under middle Georgia conditions. p. 364-366. In: J. Janick and J.E.
Simon (eds.), Advances in new crops. Timber Press, Portland, OR.
Papaya: A Potential Annual Crop Under Middle Georgia Conditions
U.L. Yadava, Janice A. Burris, and D. McCrary
- FIELD STUDIES
- Table 1
- Fig. 1
- Fig. 2
- Fig. 3
Papaya (Carica papaya L.), a plant native to tropical America, is
popular in the subtropics for its easy cultivation, rapid growth, quick
economic returns, and adaptation to diverse soils and climates (Harkness 1967,
Seelig 1970, IIHR 1979, Campbell 1984). Cultivated papaya is a small,
unbranched, and usually dioecious plant, although hermaphroditic sex types
occur (Harkness 1967, Seelig 1970, Samson 1986). The melon-like fruits have a
sweet taste and agreeable flavor, and are high in vitamins (A, B1, B2, C) and
minerals (Ca, K, P, Fe), low in sodium, fat, and calories, and contain
practically no starch (Seelig 1970, IIHR 1979, Samson 1986). Unripe fruit can
be cooked as a vegetable much like a summer squash or used in cubes for salads.
Papaya leaves have been employed in place of soap for washing delicate fabrics
(Seelig 1970). Papaya latex contains 4 identified proteolytic enzymes (papain,
chymopapain A and B, and papaya peptidase A). In food industries papain is
used to tenderize meat and clarify beer; has uses in photography, leather, wool
and rayon industries; and has value as a remedy in dyspepsia and similar
ailments (Seelig 1970, Poulter and Caygill 1985).
In recent years, consumer interest in exotic fruits including papaya, has
increased in the United States (Vietmeyer 1984). Hawaii which produced 7
million pounds of papaya valued at $17 million in 1984 (Couey 1985) is the main
source (70% of production) of papaya consumed in the mainland United States.
Florida produces papaya only sufficient for local consumption.
Frost severely damages plants at -2°C or below (Malo and Campbell 1975, IIHR
1979, Samson 1986). Climates cooler than tropical or extremely subtropical,
induce more pistillate flowers in hermaphroditic lines for enhanced
productivity (Seelig 1970, Malo and Campbell 1975, Campbell 1984). Papaya can
grow easily and produce under protective structures during severe cold weather
(Bazan and De Michele 1982). Papayas have been successfully grown in the
Soviet Union using protective structures to prevent plant injuries resulting
from extreme cold and freezing temperatures (Andreev et al. 1985). Precocious
papaya cultivars grown as annuals produce quick returns in field plantings (Ram
1983). The purpose of this investigation was to study growth, fruiting, and
production performance of three exotic lines of papaya as a potential annual
crop in middle Georgia.
In the greenhouse, seeds of three lines of papaya from India (L-45, L-50, and
Dwarf) germinated in 2 weeks during February using flat trays containing a 1:1
mixture (v/v) of vermiculite and peat moss. Papaya seedlings with 2 to 4 true
leaves were transferred to 15 cm pots filled with sterilized soil and peat moss
(1:1 v/v) and held in the greenhouse until transplanting in the field when
danger of frost was over. Two-months-old seedlings were planted in the field 1
m apart in rows during late May 1986, early May 1987, and the middle of April
1988. Following a minor transplanting shock, field plants grew vigorously,
were healthy, and had a uniform stand during the study period (Fig. 1). The
plantings were maintained using standard cultural practices recommended for
this crop (Harkness 1967). Supplementary irrigation was provided during dry
periods. There were no serious problems of insects and diseases but a viral
infection caused leaf and fruit spots for which there is no control (Harkness
1967, Malo and Campbell 1975, IIHR 1979). Each year, flowering and fruit
setting on most of the plants began 80 to 90 days following transplanting in
the field (Fig. 2). Due to the relatively short growing season in Georgia,
these lines produced fewer fruits per plant than would occur in tropical or
subtropical climates (Seelig 1970). Cold temperatures in the fall suppressed
vegetative growth and reduced flowering. Papaya flowers continuously in warmer
climates (Seelig 1970).
Plant height, number of fruits per plant, and fruit weight, were significantly
different for each line. The line L-45 which had plants of medium height, was
the most efficient producer. The average weight of ripe fruits per plant
harvested from the 1988 crop during the first 60 days of 1989 was 1.7 kg.
Based on 3,000 pistillate plants per hectare, the total yield of marketable
fruit (including ripened, and green papaya as a vegetable) for L-45, L50, and
Dwarf was 85.4, 20.2 and 47.3 tonnes per hectare, respectively (Table 1).
These yields are similar to those reported by other researchers (Seelig 1970,
Ram 1983, Campbell 1984, Samson 1986).
In 1986, more than 50% of fruits on plants attained full size, but failed to
reach firm-ripe stage before the onset of the cold or freezing weather in
October. A protective structure containing a double layer of 6-mil
polyethylene along with two portable kerosene heaters (Fig. 3), maintained the
inside temperature above 10°C for 75 days during late fall but this was
insufficient to ripen fruit. Mature fruits were harvested and kept covered in
straw in the laboratory where some softened and/or partially ripened at room
temperature after several days. These laboratory ripened fruits provided seeds
for the 1987 planting. To enhance fruit maturity and also promote ripening of
fruits while on the plants during 1987, plants were sprayed with
(2-chloroethyl) phosphonic acid (ethephon), but an unseasonal frost in early
October damaged foliage and slightly injured fruits. A few fruits of L-45 did
reach firm-ripe stage and provided seeds for the 1988 planting. During fall
1988, we used two electric heaters inside the shelter to protect plants and
hasten fruit ripening. Several fruits per plant have already ripened on plants
by March 1, 1989.
Our studies indicate that papaya can be grown in Middle Georgia if frost damage
can be prevented. The earlier the plants are set in the field the greater the
yield. One strategy would be to set plants under protective structures with or
without heat to extend the season in order to reduce or eliminate the need for
frost protection in the fall. A market could be developed for green and
immature fruit which can be consumed as a vegetable or used in salads. Studies
are continuing to determine if papaya can be grown as a profitable crop in
- Andreev, L.N., V.I. Rossinskii, and Z.E. Kuzmin. 1985. (Introduction of papaya
(Carica papaya) at the Gagrsk substation of the main Botanical Garden of
the USSR and production of raw material for domestic papain preparation).
Byull. Glav. Bot. Sada 138:3-6.
- Bazan, E. and A. De Michele. 1982. Quantitative characteristics of pawpaw
fruits grown under cover in Sicily. Informatore Agraio 38:21443-21444.
- Campbell, C.W. 1984. PapayaTropical fruits and nuts, p. 246-247, In: F.W.
Martin (ed.). Handbook of tropical food crops. CRC Press Inc., Boca Raton,
- Couey, H.M. 1985. Papayas get into hot water, leave Hawaii. USDA, ARS, Agric.
- Harkness, R.W. 1967. Papaya growing in Florida. Florida Agric. Exp. Sta. Cir.
- Indian Institute of Hort Research (IIHR). 1979. Papaya cultivation. Ext. Bul.
19, Indian Inst. Hort. Res., Bangalore, India.
- Malo, S.E. and C.W. Campbell. 1975. The papaya. Fruit crops fact sheet FC-1 1,
Fl. Coop. Ext. Serv., Inst. Food Agr. Sci., Univ. of Florida, Gainesville.
- Poulter, N.H. and J.C. Caygill. 1985. Production and utilization of papain-a
proteolytic enzyme from Carica papaya L. Trop. Sci. 25:123-137.
- Ram, M. 1983. Papaya Pusa Nanha. Intensive Agric. 21:18-19.
- Samson, J.A., 1986. Papaya, p. 256-269. In: Tropical fruits (2nd edition).
Tropical Agriculture Series, Longman Inc., New York.
- Seelig, R.A. 1970. PapayaFruit and vegetable facts and pointers. United Fresh
Fruit and Vegetable Association, Washington, DC., p. 7.
- Vietmeyer, N.D. 1984. Exotic crops: A taste of the future. Readers Digest 125
Table 1. Performance of 3 exotic lines of papaya grown under the
growing conditions of Middle Georgia during 3 years (1986-1988).z
zMeans in columns followed by the same letter are not significant (P<0.05
| ||Number of plants|
|Staminate ||Pistillate ||Planty height (cm) ||Numbery fruits per plant ||Fruity weight (kg) ||Annualy fruit yield (MT/ha)|
|L-45 ||53 ||49 ||128a ||21.4a ||1.33a ||8 5.4a|
|L-50 ||15 ||58 ||136a ||8.6b ||.78c ||20.2c|
|Dwarf ||13 ||23 ||84b ||14.8ab ||1.07b ||47.3b|
yValues are 3 years averages.
Fig. 1. A row of L-45 papaya plants in the field.
||Fig. 2. Staminate (left) and pistillate (right) papaya 90 days after
Fig. 3. Papaya plants under a protective structure.
Last update August 28, 1997