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Yadava, U.L. 1996. Guava production in Georgia under cold-protection structure. p. 451-457. In: J. Janick (ed.), Progress in new crops. ASHS Press, Arlington, VA.

Guava Production in Georgia under Cold-protection Structure

Umedi L. Yadava

    1. Morphology
    2. Bearing Habit
    3. Adaptation
    1. Cultivars
    2. Propagation
    3. Cultivation
    4. Pruning and Fruit Thinning
    5. Harvesting and Storage
    6. Diseases and Pests
    7. Utilization
  5. Table 1
  6. Fig. 1

Guava the "poorman's fruit" or "apple of the tropics" is a popular tree fruit of the tropical and subtropical climates and is native to the tropical America stretching from Mexico to Peru. Guava is commercially cultivated in most of Latin America and also thrives well in the wild. In some countries and certain growing regions, guava is naturalized to the extent that this plant is increasingly being considered as a noxious weed. It is called: amarood, sapari, jamphal, jamrukh in India; guyava and guayaba in Spain; guyave (the plant goyavier) in France; guyaaba in Holland; goiaba in Portugal; kuawa in Hawaii; abas in Guam; araca in Brazil; jambu batu in Malaya; bayabas in the Philippines; whereas the Indians of Mexico and Central America designated it by such names as pichi, posh, enandi, etc. (Jaiswal and Amin 1992; Martin et al. 1987; Morton 1987). Despite its origin in tropical America, guava is presently cultivated in every tropical and subtropical country around the world (Samson 1986). Although quite inexpensive in countries of its production, guava is a delicious fruit which is very nutritious and exceptionally rich in ascorbic acid and several minerals useful for the human health (Wilson 1980). To those fruit lovers who become familiarized with its penetrating aroma, guava is considered as one of the most delectable and fascinating fruits (Menzel 1985). Besides its exceptionally high nutritive values, guava is also a prolific and regular bearer that could produce fruits year-round (Thonte and Chakrawar 1982). Guava plants exceed the majority of tropical and subtropical fruit trees in adaptability, productivity, and tolerance to mild cold and light frosts. The guava is successfully cultivated in a wide range of environmental and edaphic conditions owing to its tolerance to moisture stress and soil salinity as compared to most of the warm climate fruit plants (Samson 1986). It is cultivated in many countries including India, South Africa, Brazil, Cuba, Venezuela, New Zealand, the Phillippines, and Haiti. Only California, Florida, and Hawaii produce guava in the United States. For the past several years, guava has been successfully grown in Georgia at the Fort Valley State College (FVSC) Agricultural Research Station, under a protective structure in the field (Yadava 1992, 1996). Seedling trees of guava grown in the field, have been producing once a year a good crop of large fruits of pleasant eating quality. Harvesting of fully mature tree-ripe guavas in the Central Georgia area extends from late Aug. to middle of Feb. Studies on guava underway at FVSC emphasize production management under cold-protection structure.

Guava is important in international trade and domestic economy of several countries in warmer climates (Menzel 1985). Because of its easy cultivation under variable soils and climates, high nutritional value, and popular uses in such processed products like juice, preserves, and dairy or bakery items, guava is favorite of billions of people in the tropical and subtropical countries, but not so much in the temperate regions including the United States. Due to their astringent properties, mature guava fruits, leaves, roots, bark, and immature fruits, are used in local medicines to treat gastroenteritis, diarrhea, and dysentery (Morton 1987; Purseglove 1968). Guava consumption has been reported to significantly reduce serum total cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure with the opposite effect (an explicit increase) in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) or good cholesterol (Singh et al. 1992). Furthermore, high concentrations of pectin in guava fruit may play a significant role in the reduction of cholesterol and thereby decrease the risk of cardiovascular diseases.


The guava (Psidium guajava L., Myrtaceae), is one of 150 species of Psidium most of which are fruit bearing trees native to tropical and subtropical America. The common guava is a diploid (2n = 22), but natural and artificial triploids (2n = 33) and aneuploids exist. Triploids generally produce seedless fruits (Jaiswal and Amin 1992), but most are shy bearers (Menzel 1985). Seedling trees of most guava cultivars vary in vigor and size, bearing habit, and fruit yield, shape, size, quality, maturity season, and storage ability. Natural cross pollination so common in guava cultivars, reaching up to 35% in some cases (Purseglove 1968; Menzel 1985), is responsible for the variability observed in seedling trees.


The guava plant grows symmetrically dome-shaped with broad, spreading, low-branching canopy and a shallow-rooted small tree of 3 to 10 m in height, branching close to the ground and often heavily suckering from the base of the trunk. The green to reddish-brown and smooth bark on older branches and trunk peels off in thin flakes. The four-angled young twigs of guava are easily distinguished. The simple leaves of guava are opposite, 10 to 15 cm long, oval to oblong-elliptic, smooth, and light green in color. The perfect epigynous flowers 25 to 30 mm in diameter with four incurved white petals and a large tuft of white stamens with yellowish anthers, are borne solitary or in clusters of 2-3 in leaf axils on new growth from mature wood. Self-pollination is conspicuous (60% to 75%) since even isolated trees produce good crop; however, the distribution of cross-pollination by insects, is about 35% (Purseglove 1968; Menzel 1985). Based on the cultivar, guava fruit could be an ovoid, spherical or pyriform berry topped by calyx lobes. Generally, guava fruits measure 4 to 10 cm in diameter and weigh from 100 to 450 g; however, the largest guavas harvested from our plots at Fort Valley, Georgia, during 1992, 1993, and 1994 seasons, were 597, 756, and 862 g, respectively. Guava has a blend of sweet and acid flavors when fully ripe and characteristically a rather penetrating aroma (Rathore 1976; Wilson 1980; Thonte and Chakrawar 1982; Menzel 1985; Morton 1987; Yadava 1994, 1996). From fruit set to maturity guava takes 150 days. Most of the famous cultivars contain numerous small, hard, yellowish-cream colored seeds which are imbedded in the soft pulp. However, seedless cultivars available in many countries, have great potential to become very popular in the United States in the future.

Bearing Habit

Guava produces flowers on new vegetative shoots arising from mature wood. Thus, in equatorial climate, it can flower during every month of the year. In India, guava flowers two to three times a year in the north (rainy, winter, and spring seasons) and distinctly three times in the south (Rathore 1976; Singh and Joon 1984; Samson 1986). In mild tropical or subtropical climates, guava flowers and fruits continuously throughout the year if water and temperatures do not become limiting factors (Rathore 1976). The guava has double sigmoidal curve for fruit growth (Sastry 1965a; Rathore 1976), with three distinct periods: (a) Rapid which starts after anthesis and continues for 45 to 60 days depending on fruiting season of the year in areas with multiple cropping seasons, (b) Relatively slow which lasts only for 30 to 60 days (after rapid), when seeds attain full maturity and become hard; and (c) Exponential increase lasting for 30 to 60 days and ending at fruit maturity. Both fruit height and diameter markedly increase during this period leading the fruit to the `eating ripeness'. Duration of these growth periods appears inversely proportional to the prevailing temperatures. Depending on guava cultivar and the growing conditions, it takes about 100 to 150 days from bloom to the fruit harvest (Rathore 1976; Samson 1986). During the fruit growth period, the major activities appear to be synthesis of cell wall material and sugars, while pectins rapidly increase during the ripening period (Sastry 1965b).


Guava plant tolerates a wide range of frost-free climatic conditions, although mature trees survive light frosts (Rathore 1976; Campbell 1984; Samson 1986; Martin et al. 1987; Jaiswal and Amin 1992). It thrives well in both humid and dry climates between the sea level and 2,100 m elevation. The optimum temperature required for guava cultivation and high yield of good quality fruit ranges from 20° to 30°C and well distributed rainfall varies from 1,000 to 2,000 mm; however, the fruit quality is poor in areas of high rainfall and high relative humidity (Samson 1986). Guavas develop the best eating quality when they mature during dry period like winter in India (Rathore 1976). Thus, it is beneficial to give guava trees rest (an off season) by withholding irrigation water periodically. It has also been reported that some guava cultivars produce more heavily in areas with distinct winter seasons than in the deep tropics (Morton 1987).



Menzel (1985) and Jaiswal and Amin (1992) have classified guava cultivars into three distinct types: (a) Dessert which produce less acidic fruits with mostly white flesh and appealing surface colors and includes 'Allahabad Safeda', 'Lucknow 49 (Sardar)', and 'Tathem White', (b) Processing which produce strong acidic fruit usually with red or pink flesh and a high percentage of pulp recovery, for example 'Ka Hua Kula', and (c) Dual purpose which yield fruits with a compromise between the processing and the dessert types like 'Etheridge Selection', 'Oakey Pink', and 'Fanretief'. 'Allahabad Safeda', 'Sardar', 'Red Fleshed', 'Chittidar', and 'Nasik' are the best known dessert types of India which produce good yield of high eating quality guava. The best Hawaiian dessert types are 'Beaumont', 'Ruby Supreme', and 'Ka Hua Kula' while 'Supreme' and 'Elisabeth' are famous guavas from the Ivory Coast. 'Centeno Pacific', an eminent Trinidad guava produces more than 50 mt/ha, propagates easily by cuttings, and tolerates flooding. 'Etheridge Selection', 'Oakey Pink', 'Tathem White', and 'Indonesian Seedless', are also important. Nagar and Raja Rao (1983) reported that fruits of the seeded guava 'Allahabad Safeda' grow much larger than those of 'Allahabad Seedless'.


Guava is generally propagated from seeds but seedlings are variable in both plant and fruit characteristics. Seedling trees are not as precocious as vegetatively propagated trees which start fruiting in just 2 to 3 years vs 4 to 5 years for seedlings. It is difficult to root guava from mature wood but Prasad et al. (1988) successfully rooted guava hardwood cuttings using bottom heat supplemented with plant growth regulators. Guava propagation by layering, inarching, and budding is achievable. A unique technique of patch budding of guava scions demonstrated at the Horticultural Experiment Center, Basti, India, appears commercially feasible (Morton 1987). Sharma et al. (1992) reported positive influence of an aneuploid dwarfing guava rootstock on tree growth and productivity. Several clonal methods including rooting of succulent green wood, forkert or patch budding, air-layering (marcottage or gooty), layering, and inarching for propagating guava germplasm have been discussed by Chandra (1965) and Samson (1986). Guava trees can be induced to set fruit and produce good yield of marketable fruit during the first season following clonal propagation (Campbell 1984). Micropropagation of guava has been achieved by shoot tip explants from mature trees (Jaiswal and Amin 1987; Amin and Jaiswal 1988; Loh and Rao 1989; Papadatou et al. 1990).


The guava is successfully cultivated in a wide range of growing conditions. It is fairly well adjusted to different rainfall while soil pH ranging from 4.5 to 8.2 is proper for desirable plant performance. While guava trees tolerate poor soils, fruit production is substantially enhanced when grown in rich soils under proper management. As a general rule, guava requires very little attention. Nevertheless, guava trees can be grown as cordons on wire fence. Trees can be planted from 2.5 to 8 m in any combination for rows and tree spacing. The most common tree spacings are 3 x 5 m and 5 x 6 m with trees established along the contours. In order to enhance fruit production and minimize requirements for labor, Mohammed et al. (1984) developed an intensive system for guava growing. They tested plant densities of 27,000 (60 x 60 cm), 37,000 (90 x 30 cm), and 73,000 (45 x 30 cm) plants/ha in combination with the use of growth regulators for plant size control. Highest yield of good quality fruits was obtained at density of 27,000 plants/ha.

Pruning and Fruit Thinning

Regular pruning of bearing tree is essential. Most guava trees, whether propagated from seed or grafts, produce an abundance of suckers which should be removed from trunk up to 50 cm above ground. A framework of four branches representing four quarters of the tree should be established. The crotch angles between the branches and the main stem should be wide enough to facilitate adequate light penetration and provide physical strength to support fruit load at maturity. Desirable tree shape should be maintained by regular but light pruning of unwanted wood. Since guava bears fruit on new growth from mature wood, it is important to keep a balance between the amount of vegetative growth and mature wood to ensure production the next season, and maintain fruiting regularity.

Since healthy guava trees grow and fruit abundantly, there is always a chance for breakage of branches supporting the heavy loads of fruits. Thinning in the early stages of fruit growth increases size of remaining fruits, reduces trunk breakage, and promotes regular bearing (Biswas et al. 1989). Hand thinning is the most common procedure for guava since chemical thinning agents have not yet been worked out.

Harvesting and Storage

Immature guavas do not ripen off the trees; fruits may soften, but never develop abundant color, and typical flavor associated with good eating enjoyment (Menzel 1985; Yadava 1994). Over-ripe fruits drop. There are no visible physical appearances or chemical indices of fruits that consistently reflect the appropriate stage of fruit maturity for harvest. Fruit harvesting should be carried out when the fruit is fully developed, matured, and began to show signs of color change from green to yellowish. Harvested fruits should be wrapped individually in paper towels and packed in padded layers before shipping or refrigeration. Wrapping of guava fruits suppresses weight loss and preserves glossiness (Morton 1987). Storage of wrapped guavas at cool temperatures extends post-harvest life up to 5 weeks with retention of healthy fruit quality and no significant reduction in nutrient contents; however, fruits stored unwrapped loose moisture and shininess (Yadava 1994, 1996). Desiccation, browning of fruit skin tissue with concomitant loss of flesh firmness, and the high rate of physiological loss of weight limit the storage life of guava fruit (Singh et al. 1990). Treatment of harvested guavas with 100 mg L-1 morphactin increases storage life of fruit by restricting fungal decay and curtailing loss of color, weight, sugars, ascorbic acid, and non-volatile organic acids (Prasad and Shukla 1979; Morton 1987). Furthermore, guava fruits should be packed in the natural posture (with the pedicel end of the fruit kept upward) in order to retain better quality for longer periods of time (Siddiqui et al. 1991).

Diseases and Pests

Scale insects, mites, thrips, and white flies cause occasional leaf damage on most guava cultivars (Campbell 1984). There are no control measures for sucking moth, birds or fruit bats (Menzel 1985). The guava is a prime host of many fruit flies like Caribbean (Anastrepha suspensa), Mediterranean (Ceratitis capitata), Mexican (Anastrepha ludens), Oriental (Dacus dorsalis), and melon fruit fly (Dacus cucurbitae). Root-knot nematodes (Meloidogyne sp.) damage tree root in lighter soils where some nematicides may provide protection. Fungal organisms causing guava diseases include: oak root-rot (Clitocybe tabescens) which causes crown and root rots often resulting in tree death, anthracnose (Colletotrichum gloeosporioides) is responsible for the rotting of ripe fruit mainly in the rainy season, and algal spotting (Cephaleuros virescens) produces superficial spotting on the fruit and leaves frequently resulting in defoliation. Fruit rots (Phytophthora parasitica, Botryodiplodia sp., and Dothiorella sp.) and fruit canker (Pestalotia psidii) are very serious on rainy season guava crops in the humid areas. Fortunately, thus far none of these diseases and pests have been observed at the Fort Valley, Georgia, location.


The guava fruit is an excellent source of vitamin C (Rathore 1976; Yadava 1994), up to 2,000 mg/100 g fruit (Campbell 1984; Menzel 1985; Martin et al. 1987). Guava fruit is abundant in dietary fiber (from 5 to 7%), vitamin A, pectin, phosphorus, calcium, and potassium (Wilson 1980; Yadava 1994). Red-fleshed guava fruit contains 3 mg of carotene/100 g of fruit. The predominant nonvolatile organic compounds of guava fruit include citric, malic, lactic, ascorbic, and galacturonic acids (Chan et al. 1971). The strong aroma of guava fruit is attributed to carbonyl compounds (Morton 1987). Comparison of nutritional quality of guava fruits produced at FVSC Agricultural Research Station, Fort Valley, Georgia, indicated that our fruits had nutrient quantities as high as or better than those reported in the literature (Yadava 1996).

Analysis of Fort Valley grown fruits indicated that guava has high levels of dietary fiber, vitamin C, protein, and potassium, but low level of fat and sodium. Guava harvested at Fort Valley at maturity, kept satisfactorily for a period of five weeks under refrigeration at 50°C. Except for a modest loss of moisture from the fruit skin, the storage period showed no significant influence on nutrient contents in proximates, vitamins, or mineral analyses indicating the importance of cold storage for guava fruit to extend its post-harvest life.

Guava fruit has been a staple food of some countries (Menzel 1985) and is still an ideal dessert in Latin America and the Spanish-speaking West Indies. The fruit is also consumed as stewed guava shells (cascos de guayaba), that is, guava halves with central seed pulp removed (Rathore 1976). Thick bars of rich guava paste and guava cheese are staple sweets, while guava jelly is almost universally marketed in these countries. Recipes are abundant for using guava fruit in pies, cakes, puddings, sauces, butter, sherbet, marmalade, jam, some dairy products (cheese and ice cream), chutney, relish, catsup, bakery items, and other products (Rathore 1976; Menzel 1985). Guava pulp is eaten fresh or stewed, and used as juice or nectar, jelly, paste, preserves, and many beverages (Jain and Barker 1966; Rathore 1976). In South Africa, guava pulp mixed with cornmeal makes food flakes for breakfast. Guava roots, bark, leaves, and green fruits are medicinally used in tropics to halt gastroenteritis, diarrhea, and dysentery while grinded leaves are applied on wounds, ulcers, and rheumatic areas, whereas chewing whole leaf relieves toothache (Rathore 1976). The larger, improved dessert guava cultivars with thick flesh are utilized for fresh market or as dessert or salad fruits; thus, the fresh market fruit which is gaining importance (Rathore 1976; Campbell 1984; Menzel 1985) appears to hold considerate potential for future commercial production.


Seedlings of a 'Red-fleshed' line of guava (Psidium guajava L.) of unknown origin from India, were raised in the greenhouse. Seeds received no exceptional treatment prior to or during germination. Preliminary investigations with guava seedlings planted in the field indicated its susceptibility to severe cold, however, the root system remained alive to sprout next spring. Thus, two-year-old seedlings of guava were established in protective structure at the Fort Valley State College Agricultural Research Station, Fort Valley, Georgia. No special plant management practices were exercised since all trees and fruits remained free of insect pets and diseases. Irrigation and fertilizers were applied as needed. Weed control was achieved by hand pulling of unwanted plants. During winter, guava trees were protected from cold temperatures using a 6-mil clear polyethylene cover and portable electric heaters. Field grown tree protected by polyethylene, flowered and fruited during Feb. through Aug., while fruit development to maturity and fruit ripening on trees took another 150 days after fruit set.

The four-year-old guava trees established in the field during 1993 and protected from winter temperatures by a 6-mil polyethylene-covered structure (Fig. 1) equipped with two electric heaters, bloomed from Feb. to Aug. 1994. Fruit maturity and tree-ripening followed a similar pattern, and thus, an average of 30 fruits per tree were harvested during Aug. 1994 through Feb. 1995. Fresh fruit weight ranged between 133 and 862 g with an average weight of 390 g/fruit. Monthly yield of guava fruit from 26 trees peaked in Nov. and Dec. (Table 1). Good quality guava fruit was produced during the winter. There have been no incidences of any disease or insect problems. Thus, at full bearing age of 5 to 7 years, 600 guava trees planted 5.2 x 3.2 m apart, have a yield potential of 25 to 40 t/ha with an annual gross return of $40,000 to $65,000/ha based on price of $1.60/kg. An economic analysis indicates a guava operation could recover costs of protective structure in less than five years.

There is an increasing demand for fresh guava in the United States particularly by the ethnic populations consisting of immigrants from Asia, Latin America, and other warm countries. Therefore, due to its exceptional appeal for the fascinated nutrition-conscious Americans, guava has good potential for commercial production for fresh market (Campbell 1984). We conclude that guava can be successfully produced in Georgia when trees are protected from cold. Unlike India, Georgia experiences only one fruiting season with fruit harvested from Aug. to Feb. Guava trees grown at Fort Valley, have been highly productive and precocious but cold protection in winter in Georgia conditions is required.


Table 1. Guava fruit harvested from 26 four-year-old trees at Fort Valley, Georgia, during the period from Aug. 1994 through Feb. 1995.

Month Fruit wt (g) Fruit yield (kg)
Aug. 359 8
Sept. 418 54
Oct. 462 41
Nov. 406 79
Dec. 357 77
Jan. 347 28
Feb. 323 8

Fig. 1. Two-year-old greenhouse-raised guava trees established in a protective structure.

Last update August 22, 1997 aw