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First results expected in early 2017

Spain: Project for papaya cultivation in greenhouses

This year, CT Tecnova has started a new line of research in the subtropical area with the design of a greenhouse with retractable roof for the cultivation of papayas. Moreover, an internal project has been launched in the laboratory to identify the sex of papayas (Carica papaya L.) with the use of molecular markers.

The cultivation of papayas is becoming increasingly important worldwide, since it involves the development of alternatives to greenhouse vegetables. It is becoming the world's third most important tropical fruit, after mangoes and pineapples. The global production amounts to almost 12.5 million tonnes, with India and Brazil as the largest producers. In Spain, the cultivation of papayas takes place mostly in the Canary Islands, mostly due to its subtropical climate. For its part, the province of Almeria has over fifty years' experience in the cultivation of greenhouse vegetables, with knowledge about aspects such as greenhouse structure design, plastic materials, climate management and control, cultivation techniques, etc. Moreover, the protection of the crop under plastic makes it possible to work with species that are not viable or profitable in the open air in our climatic conditions, as would be the case with papaya crops, and by making use of the right technology, the growers would obtain a profitable production.

In this sense, Tecnova is working on the design and development of a new type of mobile cover that can be retracted during the hottest periods or hours of the day and used again when the climatic conditions make it necessary for the crop to be protected. To this end, they plan to introduce automated mechanisms for the opening and closing of the cover, configured in accordance with the crop's needs, thus improving its agronomic management and profitability. This will also make it possible to shape the functional and organoleptic characteristics of these fruits, especially in the case of papayas, for which achieving the degree of sweetness demanded by the consumer has been really challenging.

At the same time, the Technological Centre is developing a method of analysis based on molecular biology for the identification of the sex of papayas through the use of molecular markers. This species presents three sexual forms: male, female and hermaphrodite, but only the latter has commercial value and quality for export, with its elongated shape and thick skin making it more resistant against mechanical damages during the post-harvest. It also has a smaller internal cavity, which results in a greater pulp/seed ratio. The sex of these plants can only be identified at the time of the flowering, two or three months after sowing, hence the importance of applying molecular techniques for identification in the seedling stage.

The launch of this new research line came as a result of Tecnova's technological mission to Vietnam and Burma last November, where contacts were established with the main research centres and associations of producers of subtropical fruits, such as mangoes, papayas, avocados, lychee, pitahaya, etc. Later, the Dominican Republic was assisted in its expansion of seed varieties to study their suitability for areas of Almeria, Granada and Malaga. At present, there are different varieties that are being studied to analyse their adaptation to the conditions of the climate model of the Mediterranean basin, as well as the nutritional and organoleptic characteristics of the fruits produced, especially in the case of papayas.
Early next year, Tecnova will present the first results with the aim of offering growers a new alternative to the traditional horticultural crops.


More information:
Tecnova Technological Centre
Tel.: +34 950 29 08 22
Publication date: