Pineapple (Ananas comosus) is commonly regarded as the epitome of the tropics. The fruit's pretty shape, juicy, sweet and tart flesh makes it a favourite at the dessert table. The pineapple may be oval or cylindrical. The tough, waxy rind is made up of hexagonal “eyes” arranged spirally. Ripe fruit may be yellow, orange or reddish. The flesh may be nearly white or yellow.
The pineapple grows out of the ground surrounded by a rosette of waxy, strap-like leaves that have spines at their tips and margins. They are usually propagated from the crowns (the “tops” of the fruit) or slips (side shoots). Pineapples grow only in tropical lowlands but are relatively drought-tolerant. They thrive in well-drained sandy loams with a pH of 4.5 – 6.5.
Pineapple is widely grown in Johor, Selangor, Kelantan, Sarawak and Penang. Malaysia is the world's 17th largest producer of pineapple with 1.6% of the global market share. Our pineapples are exported to Singapore, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Brunei. In 2000, the exports were valued at RM9 million.
In other parts of the world, pineapple leaves are an important source of fibre for nets, thread and fabric.
Scientific NameAnanas comosus
Common Names English: Pineapple Bahasa Melayu: Nanas Mandarin: Huangli Tamil: Annaci palam Bahasa Indonesia: Nanas Thai: Sapparot Tagalog: Piña Khmer: Manoa Laotian: Mahk nut Burmese: Narnuthi Vietnamese: Dú'a/ Tho'm Khóm
CultivarsCommercial cultivars of pineapple are generally placed in five groups i.e. Cayenne, Queen, Spanish, Pernambuco and Mordilona. Only the first three are of commercial importance to Malaysia .
'Smooth Cayenne' is the most important cultivar from this group. More than 70% of the pineapple grown for both canning and for fresh fruit in the world is from this cultivar. The local clones of this group are 'Sarawak' (in Peninsular Malaysia), ‘Samarahan', ‘Nanas Durian' and ‘Nanas Paun' (in Sarawak) and ‘Babagon' (in Sabah ).
‘Sarawak' is vigorous growing and bears large (about 2.5 kg), egg-shaped fruit held on a short and strong peduncle (Figure 1). The fruitlets or ‘eyes' are broad and flat. The flesh is pale yellow, very juicy with fairly high acid (0.5-0.9%) and sugar (12-16° Brix). Leaves are generally smooth with occasional spines at the tips.
Cultivars in this group are usually resistant to fruit collapse and bacterial heart rot diseases but susceptible to black heart disorder due to low temperature. Vegetative propagation is normally by shoots and slips, which are quite limited in production.
The production cycle for ‘Smooth Cayenne' is longer than most of the other cultivars. In Malaysia, the ‘Sarawak' clone does not respond readily to flower-induction, especially when grown on peat soil that encourages robust vegetative growth. Hence, the cultivation of the Cayenne type of pineapple in this country is limited to mineral soil areas such as Titi (Negri Sembilan), Setiu (Terengganu) (Penampang / Babagon) Sabah and some parts of Sarawak.
The cultivars in this group are widely distributed and quite extensively cultivated for fresh fruits in the world. In Peninsular Malaysia, it is commonly known as ‘Nanas Moris' (Figure 2) derived from the more common international name ‘Mauritius' and in Sarawak it is called ‘Sarikei'. It is also known as ‘Phuket', ‘Rough McGregor', ‘Ripley Queen', ‘Alexandra' and ‘Victoria' in other parts of the world.
The plant is small with short and very spiny, dark purplish-green leaves. It bears small, tapering fruits (0.5 to 1.2 kg), with small protruding eyes which require a thick cut to remove the peel completely. The golden yellow pulp is dry, crispy and sweet (14 to 18° Brix), with excellent flavour. In Malaysia, 70% of the fresh pineapple fruit produced is from ‘Nanas Moris'.
The plant sometimes produce robust slips in some variants e.g. Moris Slipping, and most have an average of 2 suckers or more which is sufficient for ratooning or replanting. Queen cultivars are robust and show higher tolerance to stress, pests and diseases than 'Smooth Cayenne'. However they are susceptible to black heart disorder.
The ‘Spanish' group of pineapple is not widely cultivated in the world. However, it is well adapted to the coastal peat and has been, for over a century, the main canning cultivar in Malaysia .
Selections within the ‘Singapore Spanish' have produced improved cultivars for canning such as ‘Masmerah' and ‘Gandul'. Others in this group not popularly cultivated include ‘Selangor Green', ‘Nangka' and ‘Betik'. Two other cultivars which are suitable for fresh fruit market are ‘Hybrid 36' and ‘Josapine'.
The plants are moderate in vigour and bear typically square-shouldered (cylindrical) fruits of 1-2 kg. The eyes are broad, fairly flat and deep and this results in lower flesh recovery. The flesh is quite fibrous, with attractive deep, golden-yellow colour. Sugars (10-12° Brix ) and acids (0.3-0.5%) are usually low but very much higher in ‘Hybrid 36' and ‘Josapine' which were selected for the fresh fruit market. The leaf margins are usually smooth with the exception of the leaf-tip where a few spines may be found. Slips are sometimes prolific and it also produces suckers readily for ratooning or replanting. Spanish cultivars are susceptible to fruit collapse and bacterial heart rot diseases.
Figure 3: Spanish pineapple (Hybrid 36 cultivar)
‘Hybrid 36' (Figure 3) is a hybrid selected from a cross between ‘Gandul' (Spanish) and the ‘Smooth Cayenne' by the Peninsula Estate, Malaysia. It is a very robust cultivar and produces medium sized fruits (1.5 – 2 kg) with large crowns. It has high sugar content (14° Brix) and acid (0.6-0.8%) but its flesh colour is rather pale. The fruit is quite tolerant to black heart disorder but susceptible to marbling diseases.
Figure 4: Spanish pineapple (Josapine cultivar)
‘Josapine' is a new cultivar in the Spanish group with very bright prospects as a table-fruit (Figure 4). It is a selection from hybridisation between 'Johor' ('Spanish') and 'Sarawak' ('Smooth Cayenne') and released by the Malaysian Agriculture Research and Development Institute (MARDI) in 1996. It fruits very early and is cultivated on an annual cycle in Malaysia .
The plant is vigorous and produces two to three suckers. Leaves are lightly purple-tinged, usually with spineless margins except for the leaf-tip. Crowns are medium, occasionally with multiple proliferation. Fruits weigh between 1.1 to 1.3 kg, are cylindrical-shaped with dark purple peel ripening to attractive orange-red. The flesh colour is deep-golden yellow with strong aroma and sugar content between 17° Brix on peat soil to 22° Brix on mineral soil. 'Josapine' fruits have good storage-life and are resistant to black heart disorder or internal browning caused by low temperatures. This is an advantage that allows ‘Josapine' fruits to be shipped for export under refrigerated containers.
Growth Habit: The pineapple plant is an herbaceous perennial, 70 – 150 cm high with a spread of 90-120 cm. It is essentially a short, stout stem with a rosette of waxy, strap-like leaves that have spines at the tips and margins.
Foliage: The long-pointed leaves are 50-180 cm long, usually needle tipped and generally bearing sharp, upcurved spines on the margins. They may be all green or variously striped with red, yellow or ivory down the middle or near the margins. As the stem continues to grow, it acquires at its apex a compact tuft of stiff, short leaves called the crown or top. Occasionally a plant may bear 2 or more heads instead of the normal one.
Flowers: At blooming time, the stem elongates and enlarges near the apex and puts forth an inflorescence of small purple or red flowers. The flowers are pollinated by birds, and these flowers usually develop small, hard seeds. Seeds are generally not found in commercially grown pineapple. The apex of the flower is vegetative, becoming the "crown" on the fruit, which can be used for propagation.
Flowering is induced by chemical/ethylene exposure when plants are 6-12 months (30-leaf stage). Ethephon, NAA (induces ethylene), calcium carbide (generator), and BOH (ß-hydroxyethyl hydrazine) are used commercially.
Flowers are self-sterile, but seedless fruit are set parthenocarpically. If flowers are pollinated, a few hard seeds (undesirable) may be found in the fruit. The flowers have been reported to be pollinated by humming birds in S. America.
Fruit: The oval to cylindrical-shaped, compound fruit develops from many small fruits fused together. It is both juicy and fleshy with the stem serving as the fibrous core. The tough, waxy rind may be dark green, yellow, orange-yellow or reddish when the fruit is ripe . The rind is made up of hexagonal "eyes", arranged spirally . The flesh ranges from nearly white to yellow. The fruits may measure are up to 30 cm long and weigh 0.4 – 4 kg. One fruit per plant is produced.
Growth and Development
Plants are vegetatively propagated from crowns ("tops") and slips (side shoots arise in an older leaf axil). The size of the crown/slip may affect yield - medium to large crowns give highest yield. Plants for establishing new fields are obtained from old fields after harvest, prior to clearing or burning. Plants generally produce fruit in 15-18 months from transplanting.
Fruiting can be forced when the plant is mature by using acetylene gas or a spray of calcium carbide solution (30g to 4L water), which produces acetylene. Or calcium carbide (10 -12 grains) can be deposited in the crown of the plant to be dissolved by rain.
Pineapple can be grown on almost any types of soil but they must be well drained. The crop is especially well adapted to acidic soils where soil-borne diseases are reduced at pH of 4.5-5.5. Soils with pH greater than 7.0 should be avoided. Where rainfall is high or soils are not well drained, soil management techniques such as ridging must be used to improve drainage. Pineapple tolerates low soil fertility as well as high levels of soluble aluminium and manganese. High organic matter and potassium levels are desirable for optimum production. Pineapple has been known to grow successfully on several types of marginal soils notably peat as well as acid sulphate and bris (sandy) soils.
Most pineapple in Malaysia is grown on peat. Cultivation on peat compared with mineral soils has several advantages and disadvantages. The most limiting disadvantage concerns the inability to mechanise farm operations. The soft peat ground cannot support the weight of tractors and other heavy agricultural machinery. Even with light machinery, the presence of buried undecomposed timber makes operations difficult. Another problem is that the water table is usually high in peat areas and needs to be carefully managed to avoid flooding as well as over-drainage which causes irreversible shrinkage of the soil. The optimum water table level is maintained at 60-90 cm from the soil surface. Pineapple has low nutrient requirements but may be sensitive to micronutrient deficiencies especially copper and zinc on new peat areas. Pineapple on peat however, faced fewer problems with diseases, notably Phytophthora root rot and nematode infestation because of its low pH.
The important climatic factors to consider in growing pineapples in Malaysia are temperature, rainfall, relative humidity and sunshine.
Pineapples grow and produce best under warm and relatively uniform temperatures throughout the year. It needs a sunny climate, though there are no exact figures on hours of sunshine or amount of solar radiation required. Bright and long hours of sunshine are necessary for vigorous plant growth and buildup of high sugar content in quality fruits. Pineapple is suitably grown in the lowlands where humidity is high and temperatures exceed 20 0 C. The optimum temperature requirement for the crop growth is about 30 0 C. The optimum annual rainfall range is between 1,000 to 1,500 mm although the crop has been known to grow successfully in areas with annual rainfall between 500 mm to 5,500 mm.
With good adaptation to drought, the crop may be grown without irrigation, in areas normally unsuited for many other crops. The fruit quality of pineapple in drier areas may be better because of higher sugar accumulation. However, during extended periods of drought in these areas, irrigation may be required to maintain good growth and development.
Origins and History
The pineapple is native to southern Brazil and Paraguay . It was spread by the Indians up through South and Central America to the West Indies before Columbus arrived. In 1493 Columbus found the fruit on the island of Guadaloupe and carried it back to Spain . It was spread around the world on sailing ships that carried it for protection against scurvy. The Spanish introduced it into the Philippines and may have taken it to Hawaii and Guam early in the 16th Century. The pineapple reached England in 1660 and was grown in greenhouses for its fruit around 1720.
Pineapple was first canned in 1888 in Malaya; exports from Singapore began in 1900. Southeast Asia still dominates world production today.
Pineapple is widely grown in Johor, Selangor, Kelantan, Sarawak and Penang .
List of Production Areas
Pahang: Kuantan, Pekan
Kelantan: Bachuk, Tumpat, Kota Baru, Pasir Putih
Terengganu: Besut, Setiu, Kuala Trengganu, Marang
Johor: Batu Pahat, Pontian, Muar
Selangor: Ulu Selangor, Gombak, Petaling, Wilayah Persekutuan, Klang, Ulu Langat
Negri Sembilan: Seremban
Nutrient, Unit/100g edible portion
Energy, 45 kCal
Water, 87.8 g
Protein, 0.5 g
Fat, 0.1 g
Fibre, 10.6 g
Ash, 0.6 g
Calcium, 0.4 g
Phosphorus, 24 mg
Iron, 6.0 mg
Sodium, 1.4 mg
Potassium, 31.0 mg
Vitamin A, 40.0 mg
Vitamin B1, 270.0 mg
Vitamin B2, 0.17 mg
Niacin, 0.1 mg
Vitamin C, 15.2 mg
Fresh: Field ripe fruits are best for eating fresh, and it is only necessary to remove the crown, rind, eyes and core. The flesh of fruits is cut up in various ways and eaten fresh, as dessert, in salads, compotes or cooked in pies, cakes, puddings, as a garnish on ham, made into sauces or preserves. Southeast Asians use the pineapple in curries and various meat and seafood dishes.
In Africa, young, tender shoots are eaten in salads. The terminal bud or "cabbage" and the inflorescences are eaten raw or cooked. Young shoots, called "hijos de pina" are sold on vegetable markets in Guatemala .
Pineapple juice is taken as a diuretic and to expedite labour, also as a gargle in cases of sore throat and as an antidote for seasickness.
Processed: In the Philippines, the fermented pulp is made into a popular sweetmeat called nata de pina. The pineapple does not lend itself well to freezing, as it tends to develop off flavours.
Canned pineapple is consumed throughout the world. The highest grade is the skinned, cored fruit sliced crosswise and packed in syrup. Undersize or overripe fruits are cut into "spears", chunks or cubes.
Crushed pineapple, juice, nectar, concentrate, marmalade and other preserves are commercially prepared from the flesh remaining attached to the skin after the cutting and trimming of the central cylinder. There is a growing demand for pineapple juice as a beverage. All residual parts cores, skin and fruit ends are crushed and given a first pressing for juice to be canned as such or prepared as syrup used to fill the cans of fruit, or is utilised in confectionery and beverages, or converted into powdered pineapple extract which has various roles in the food industry. A second pressing yields "skin juice" which can be made into vinegar or mixed with molasses for fermentation and distillation of alcohol.
Industrial: Bromelain, a proteolytic enzyme, is derived from pineapple juice. It is used to tenderise meat and chill-proof beer. Bromelain is also used in industry for stabilising latex paint and tanning leather.
Fibre: Pineapple leaves yield a strong, white, silky fiber which was extracted by Filipinos before 1591. The 'Perolera' is an ideal cultivar for fiber extraction because its leaves are long, wide and rigid. The fibre is used as thread, coarse textiles resembling grass cloth, for stringing jewellery, fine casting nets and as fabric made into clothing. Pina cloth made from pineapple fibres are highly priced in the Philippines .
Folk Medicine: The flesh of very young (toxic) fruits is deliberately ingested to achieve abortion; also to expel intestinal worms; and as a drastic treatment for venereal diseases. In Africa the dried, powdered root is a remedy for oedema. The crushed rind is applied on fractures and the rind decoction with rosemary is applied on hemorrhoids. Indians in Panama use the leaf juice as a purgative, emmenagogue (to induce menstruation) and vermifuge.