Land requirements for growing pineapple

Soil

The best soils for pineapple production are non-compacted, well-aerated and free-draining loams, sandy loams and clay loams with no heavy clay or rock within one metre of the surface. Good drainage is essential because poor drainages leads to a weak root system, which makes the plant more susceptible to root and heart rot diseases. A soil pH in the range of 4.5-5.6 is optimal for pineapple production.

Climate

Temperature is the most important climatic factor affecting productivity. The optimum air temperature is 32°C during the day and 20°C at night. For every 1°C above or below, the optimum growth rates decrease by about 6 per cent.

During periods of intense sunlight and high temperature (above about 35°C), fruit is susceptible to sunburn damage. A frost-free site is essential.

For non-irrigated crops, rainfall should be well distributed throughout the year and more than 750 mm per year.

Slope

Slopes between 2-6 per cent are best for pineapple growing. Below this range, it may be hard to achieve adequate drainage. Above this range, operational and erosion control costs escalate.

Aspect

The effect of aspect is more significant in the subtropics than the tropics. The best aspect is north-east, followed by north and north-west. Avoid steeper north-west slopes to reduce the risk of sunburn. The worst aspects are southerly ones because they do not get warm in winter. Flat country in southern districts act like a southerly aspect in winter because of the lower aspect of the sun.

Water

Good water availability for irrigation is recommended in drier areas and is useful in all situations for watering at planting and 8-12 weeks before harvest in dry seasons. Pineapples are reasonably sensitive to saline irrigation water and yields tend to reduce if irrigation water's electroconductivity is greater than 1.28 dS/m.

Proximity to markets, transport and labour

Proximity to markets, transport routes and urban areas will help reduce the costs of transport, supporting services and infrastructure, and make management easier.

Availability of suitable and reliable labour is important and can be difficult to source, especially for planting and harvesting, which involve physically demanding work.