DRIP IRRIGATION FOR PAPAYA

Cultural background, origin and dissemination

The papaya (Carica papaya L.) is a tropical species belonging to the Caricaceae family, native to Central America. The fruit (considered a superfood) is now increasingly popular in Europe, where its cultivation has become increasingly widespread in recent years, in addition to the exponential growth in its consumption. In fact, thanks to favourable soil and climate conditions, papaya production has increased in the Mediterranean basin, especially in the mild climate areas of Spain and Italy.

Characteristics of the species

The papaya, although mistakenly considered a tree plant, is actually a short-lived (biennial) succulent herbaceous species.

It is characterised by a very rapid rate of growth: after the juvenile period, which lasts about eight to ten months, the reproductive phase begins, with gradual flowering and fruiting over time. In tropical countries it produces fruit several times a year.

In sub-tropical climates such as Sicily, on the other hand, the fruiting period is between April and November, with the best yields centred between July and August (more soluble solids -> greater sweetness).

Fruit ripening is also gradual: on the plant it runs from the bottom upwards, which is why fruits at different ripening stages can be found on the same plant (some even stop ripening in the cold season and complete ripening in the following season).

Irrigation management

Irrigation is essential for papaya cultivation: the herbaceous consistency of the tissues, the superficial (no more than 40 cm deep) and expanded root system, the high thermal requirements, and the rapid biological cycle, call for proper replenishment of water requirements through constant and localised irrigation water supplies.

The papaya’s water consumption is often higher for young plants by virtue of the rapid growth cycle, decreasing for adult plants (fibrous-woody stem texture). From the first blooms onwards, it is a good idea to monitor water and nutrient supplies, trying to keep the soil constantly moist (but not too moist) and, at the same time, trying not to exceed mineral supplies.

The onset of water-nutritional stress could in fact lead the plant to the phenomenon of carpeloidy (deformed fruit not in line with commercial standards): in particular, low temperatures, high soil moisture and high nitrogen
levels cause flower anomalies (on plants with hermaphrodite flowers, the stamens turn into carpels or disappear altogether so that only female flowers are present).

High temperatures and water shortages, on the other hand, cause female sterility in hermaphrodite flowers.

An excess of water could also stimulate the plant to an increased secretion of papain, a proteolytic enzyme present on stems, leaves and unripe fruit which, due to its milky consistency, aesthetically damages the fruit if not properly handled at harvest and post-harvest. The problem can be managed by monitoring the relative humidity inside the greenhouse.

Irrigation system for papaya

For the proper irrigation management of papayas, Irritec offers drip irrigation systems which, thanks to water localisation, low flow rates and low operating pressures, ensure high system efficiency by optimising water and energy savings on the farm.

The recommended irrigation system for papayas involves the laying of two drip lines per row (under mulch cloth), preferably normal multi-seasonal drip lines (D5, M5, D7, Junior or Tandem), resorting to self-compensating systems (Multibar F or Multibar C) in the case of extremely long rows or in open field conditions when topographical conditions are particularly difficult.

By virtue of the narrow planting distances (e.g. 2.0 x 2.0 m), drip line spacings of between 30 and 50 cm are recommended; a third drip line on the row is also an option in order to encourage greater expansion of the root system.

It is also essential to equip the irrigation system with an adequate filtration system, thus ensuring high efficiency and longevity of the entire irrigation system.

Fertigation

Proper fertigation improves the production and nutraceutical aspects of the fruit: rapid entry into production, uniform skin and flesh colouration, good flesh consistency, optimal biosynthesis of carotenoids, volatile esters and alcohols responsible for the fruit’s sweet taste (high °Brix), aroma and flavour.

After adequate organic background fertilisation, the papaya benefits greatly from fertilisation with potassium, calcium, phosphorous, sulphur and magnesium. It is best to avoid nitrogen inputs that induce the plant to excessive vegetative vigour to the detriment of production.

For punctual and precise fertigation, Irritec offers Dosabox Junior Advanced, a device that is well suited to papaya cultivation: it allows you to dose from 1 to 3 fertilisers + acid per correction

Papaya Cultivation - Drip Irrigation Irritec

A practical example of how to drip irrigate papaya

Papaya Irrigation System - Design Irritec

Here are the Irritec products you need to drip irrigate papaya

1

D7™ – TANDEM®

D7, the classic drip line with a long labyrinth flat dripper, as a result of the innovative medium-sized flat dripper, has an extensive filtering surface area, which, combined with the turbulent labyrinth with wide passage cross-sections, makes it usable for water that is heavily laden with solid particles. Tandem is Irritec’s classic drip line with a cylindrical emitter. The drip head with double perforation makes it possible to increase the surface area to be irrigated. Its four emission holes, positioned opposite to one another prevent the aspiration of impurities, making it easier to install.

2

PIPELINES IN PE AND CONNECTO

The Connecto™ line of compression fittings for the conveying pressurised fluids, particularly suitable for irrigation and gardening systems, is characterised by its great speed and ease of assembly.

Pipes for irrigation - Papaya - Irritec

3

AUTOMATIC PLASTIC FILTERS

The Rotodisk® Automatic filter is a fibreglass-reinforced polyamide filter with a special mechanical-hydraulic system for automatic backwashing. Conveniently installed in batteries using hydro-valves and a control unit, they make it possible to maintain the continuity of the irrigation cycle and reduce water waste and the labour required to maintain a filtering station.

Filters for irrigation - Papaya - Irritec

4

FERTIGATION, AUTOMATION AND SENSORS

Irritec® fertigation systems combine practicality and reliability with a modern nutrient injection system. Irritec® automation systems, such as the Commander EVO® and Commander NPK® programmers, meet the irrigation needs of farms of all sizes, combining pH and electrical conductivity management with a more professional approach to irrigation scheduling. They are also equipped with radio remote controls, managed via software with internet access.

Fertigation system for Papaya - Irritec

5

FITTINGS AND BRANCHES

Irritec® low pressure fittings and valves are the ideal solution for agricultural and residential irrigation systems. The products have a wide scope of application and are characterised by their ease of installation and assembly. Made from plastics, this product family includes: economical couplings, hose fittings, PE-PVC – LayFlat pipe branches, tape and light drip line fittings, classic drip line fittings, cylinder valves, mini ball valves, ball valves, hydrants, pressure regulators, air vents, threaded fittings and spiral pipe fittings.

FITTINGS AND BRANCHES for Papaya - Irritec

Discover how to irrigate others crops

Irritec wants to make life easier for those who take care of the plants, for work and for passion. We aim to ensure that every drop is spent as well as possible, minimizing the ecological footprint.

Agronomic Irritec Team support the farmer also on after-sale and installation, with continuous assistance and efficiency control. Continuous attention to the customer needs to provide succesful and sustainable solution with an efficience service.