Which tropical fruit is promising in the greenhouses of Dutch greenhouse horticulture entrepreneurs? With this question, the Business Unit Greenhouse Horticulture and Flower Bulbs of Wageningen University & Research started a research into the cultivation of avocado, papaya and mango. Of those three crops, the papaya turned out to have the most potential in the short term. Thanks to this research, a Dutch grower has now started the commercial cultivation of papaya.
For the research, different cultivars of the three crops were planted in the research location in Bleiswijk. Various aspects of the cultivation of the tropical fruit were investigated, such as light, water and pollination. The research showed that papaya offered the best chance of a healthy business model.
A papaya is the fruit of a so-called melon tree. The fruit grows directly on the trunk, under a leaf. For a good harvest, the leaves must be removed in time in order to grow fruit properly. A melon tree has three possible genders: male, female and hermaphrodite. For the cultivation of the papaya, the hermaphrodite is needed, which gives the desired elongated fruit shape. This means that seedlings must be sexed by a specialized company.
Partly thanks to this research, papaya is now being grown on four hectares in a Dutch greenhouse. That is only a few years after the study in Bleiswijk. The fact that it can go so fast is also due to questions from the market. Growers of tropical fruit were regularly asked by buyers whether tropical fruit can also be grown in the Netherlands. For example, papaya mainly comes from South America. In addition, the fruit is grown in Spanish plastic greenhouses.
The research into the cultivation of tropical fruit was funded by SunFresh and the Hagelunie.