Pawpaw commonly referred to as papaya in layman language is coined from its botanical name Carica Papaya, it is native to Central America (Southern Mexico and Costa Rica). It exists in tropical and subtropical areas throughout the world, it grows large in a single trunk can reach up to 30 feet at maturity, leaves are deeply lobed and over 3 feet in width. There are three different tree types, female plants, male plants and bisexual plants. The female and bisexual plants are the only ones that produce fruit. Depending on the tree type, this fruit is small to medium round or medium to large oblong shape. Fruit flesh is generally yellow, although some red and orange types exist as well, Its consumed owning to the abundance of nutritional values and industrial uses.
THE GENESIS OF ITS GROWTH BEGINS FROM SEEDS IN A NURSERY
The seeds are gotten fresh, from a fruit cut open, to get female plants. Ensure you pick the fruit at the base of the pawpaw fruit, then put in water to test for viability. Poor seeds float while the quality seeds sit at the base of the water. Scoop out floating seeds away, gather seeds lying at the base and dried in a paper towel/handkerchief/tissue paper under a shelter not under the sun, Sun diminishes the quality of seeds (In just three days of drying, pawpaw seeds can lose about 20% of their viability). Once dried, plant in a nursery and water. Pawpaw seedlings can be transplanted after 4-6 weeks of growth, its removed with the aid of a small shovel usually transplanting should not be done in the afternoon rather early in the day or just after a concluded rain.
Pawpaw trees prefer well-draining, slightly acidic soil in the pH range of 5.5-7. In heavy clay, or waterlogged soils, pawpaw seedlings will not perform well and may die. Proper drainage is essential for optimal growth.
On acid soils with a pH of less than 5.5, a preplant lime application is usually recommended to raise the pH and provide calcium. Dolomite provides both calcium and magnesium is a good option in helping the crop roots
Phosphorus applied before planting should be thoroughly mixed with the soil or placed in a band away from the seeds. Application rates depend on soil type. For soils that do not have a high phosphorus requirement, a preplant application of 4 oz (113 g) of 0-46-0 per planting hole is recommended.
Moderate applications of slow-release fertilizers are recommended during the first few months of growth. Commercial growers apply 0.5 oz (14 g) of slow release fertilizer per hole at planting and again six weeks later. Postplant fertilizer applications usually begin three months after planting with rates increasing with plant size. Maximum rates are applied at five- to eight-week intervals after the plants begin to flower. A typical application schedule with a fertilizer such as 14-14-14 begins with 4 oz (113 g) per plant per month during the third through fifth months after planting. This rate increases to 6 oz (170 g) every five weeks after the sixth month.
During winter months, when growth and fruit production are slower, quantities of fertilizer applied should be reduced. In the absence of rain or irrigation, repeated fertilizer applications can lead to build-up of undissolved fertilizers, which may release high concentrations of nutrients into the root zone with the next rainfall. Excessive N will cause excessive vegetative growth and is also believed to contribute to soft-fruit problems. For best growth of young plants and good yields of bearing plants, papayas should be irrigated as necessary to supplement rainfall. When rainfall is limited, commercial growers may apply up to 10 gal (37.851) of water per tree per day to bearing trees. Yields can also be increased by good weed control practices.
HARVEST & POST HARVEST
Papaya fruit should be harvested after colour break – when some yellow shows on the fruit – but before fully yellow (about 9 to 14 months after planting). Fruit for home consumption is best harvested when half yellow. If left to ripen on the tree, the fruit is often damaged by fruit flies and birds.
Harvested fruit is ripened at room temperature and refrigerated when fully ripe. When ready to eat, fruit is usually partially to fully yellow and slightly soft; refrigeration can extend its storage life for several days. In commercial situations, the storage life of partially ripe fruit can be extended for up to two weeks by holding it at about 50 F (10 C), but lower temperatures may interrupt the ripening processes and cause injury; the optimal storage temperature for fully ripe fruit is about 36 F (2.2 C).
Papayas must be treated to kill any eggs or larvae of fruit flies that may be present in the fruit. Treatments include double-dip hot water treatments and vapor heat treatments.
- Anthracnose and chocolate spot, Colletotrichum gloeosporioides (fruits, petioles)
- Phytophthora, Phytophthora palmivora (fruit, stem, roots)
- Powdery mildew, Oidium caricae (leaves)
- Black spot, Cercospora papayae (fruit)
- Damping off, Pythium, Phytophthora, Rhizoctonia (seedlings)
- Wet rot, Phomopsis sp. (fruit)
- Dry rot, Mycosphaerella sp. (fruit)
- Watery fruit rot, Rhizopus stolonifer
- Stem-end rot, Botryodiplodia theobromae, Mycosphaerella sp., Rhizopus stolonifer, Phomopsis sp. (mature fruit)
- Papaya ring spot virus (formerly referred to as papaya mosaic)
- Reniform nematodes, Rotylenchulus reniformis
- Root-knot nematodes, Meloidogyne spp.
- Leafhopper, Empoasca stevensi
- Mediterranean fruit fly, Ceratitis capitata
- Melon fly, Bactrocera cucurbitae
- Oriental fruit fly, B. dorsalis
- Broad mite, Polyphagotarsonemus latus (seedlings, young plants, lower surface of young leaves)
- Red and black flat mite, Brevipalpus phoenicis (fruit)
- Tuckerellid mites, Tuckerella ornata, T. pavoniformis (trunks of old plants)
- Carmine spider mite, Tetranychus cinnabarinus (lower surface of mature leaves)
- Citrus red mite, Panonychus citri (upper surface of mature leaves)
- Texas citrus mite, Eutetranychus banksi (upper surface of mature leaves)
Pawpaw can be consumed by
Fruits by man, snails and used in soap and creams for skin treatment
The dried peels of pawpaw can be supplemented in Broiler Finisher and Layer mash
The air dried pawpaw seeds serves as De-wormer
The extracts of ripe or unripe Pawpaw seeds and pulp serve as antibiotics which slow and neutralize the microbial activities of E.coli, Bacillus subtilis, Salmonella typhi, Staphylococcus aureus, Klebsiella pneumonia, etc.
The Latex from the Stem, or from punctured pawpaw fruits and leaves is also a very good de-wormer. The latex is dried before being used for this purpose. It is very effective in treating Ascaris nematodes in pigs, poultry and other mammals.
The Dried Latex has Antifungal properties especially when used to treat Candida Albicans, which causes Sour Crop, Candidiasis & Thrush in poultry.
Other importance of Pawpaw can be read here