Intercropping Pineapple with Coconut In Sri Lanka(Ananas comosus)

Intercropping Pineapple with Coconut In Sri Lanka(Ananas comosus)

Considering the fruits of Sri Lanka, pineapple is a relatively large, tasty and fertile crop compared with other fruits. This fruit can be grown cheaply in respective lands as an intercrop with coconut cultivation. Pineapple, botanically known as “Ananas comosus”, belongs to Bromeliaceae (Bromeliads) genus. Pineapple can be considered a crop of greater commercial importance than other fruits due to its high local and foreign demand.

About 70% of pineapple production in Sri Lanka is supplied from Gampaha and Kurunegala districts. According to surveys, pineapple production in 2010 exceeded 44.2 million fruits within 4956 hectares. And the amount of pineapple exported during that year was about 798 metric tons, and the export income was around 116.9 million rupees.

Do you know…

About 5000 pineapple plants can be cultivated per acre of coconut.

The pineapple plant has many medicinal properties and uses. Juice squeezed from pineapple leaves can be used as a laxative and helps stop hiccups. The leaves are also used for the production of silk textiles. Consuming raw pineapple fruit can prevent stomach flatulence. Ripe pineapple fruit is used as a medicine to relieve diseases like diarrhea and jaundice and it contains an enzyme called bromelain which helps in digestion. Apart from this, pineapple is used as a fruit with many nutritional properties.

Points to consider before growing pineapples

  • Rainfall

Areas with annual rainfall between 1500 – 3000 mm are ideal.

  • Temperature

Areas where the temperature is generally between 24 – 32 degrees Celsius are most suitable for cultivation.

  • Soil

Sandy loam soil is most suitable for cultivation. Hard clay or sandy lands or soils containing too much lime are not suitable for cultivation. The land that does not drain well too is not suitable. A slightly acidic, slightly elevated or crusty soil with a pH of 5.5 – 6 is also suitable for cultivation.

  • Sunlight

Sunlight is an essential factor for successful pineapple cultivation. Pineapple cultivation is more successful under coconut plantations that are less than five years old and more than 30 years old.

  • Varieties

Although there are a large number of pineapple varieties spread all over the world; two types are mainly cultivated as a commercial crop in Sri Lanka.

1. Mauritius

The leaves of this variety are spiny. Mostly eaten as a fresh fruit. The eyes, which are located deeper in the bark, protrude clearly. A well-ripened fruit has a pleasant aroma. Its pulp is golden yellow in color.The average weight of a fruit is between 1.5 – 1.8 kg.

2. Kew

The leaves of this variety are spineless. Especially used for packing in cans. Both the fruit and bush are larger than that of the Mauritius variety. In addition, the taste is more sour than the taste of Mauritius variety. Its juice is light yellow in color. The average weight of a fruit is between 2-2.5 kg.

Preparation of planting material

The part called “suckers” is used to grow pineapples. The size of these suckers varies according to variety, growing area and controlling conditions.

1. Root suckers

2. Axillary suckers

3. Stem suckers

4. Crown

Axillary suckers and root suckers are commonly used for planting. However, stem suckers or crowns too can be planted, but yields are low. It is considered the ideal stage for suckers to be planted when they are between 12 and 14 leaves. Planting suckers with smaller leaf size will increase the time required to obtain the signature.

The production of suckers can be done by using the mother plants that remain after the fruit is harvested from the bushes. It is produced by nursery methods should be pre-treated with insecticides and fungicides before planting. This is because suckers can control mealy bugs and fungal diseases at an early stage, which spread viral diseases.

In addition, plants can also be produced by stem cuttings and tissue culture.

Planting pineapple with coconut

  • Setting up the field

The soil of the coconut plantation should be plowed thoroughly. Then, on the overturned soil, channels should be prepared according to the method of crushing the cubes and planting pineapple plants. If it is a plain land, it is best to cut drains in the direction from east to west. 10 cm deep drains/trenches can be made. Cover the base of the plant (suckers) placed on drains by 10-15 cm with soil from the opposite side.

  • Planting systems

1. Single row system

This method is best suited for the Mursi variety. Here basically three rows of pineapple plants are placed between two rows of coconut trees. Pineapple plants are planted so that there is a minimum distance of 6.5 feet from each coconut tree. Here two rows of pineapple plants should be at least 6 feet apart and the spacing between two pineapple plants should be 1.5 feet. Using this method, about 3500 pineapple plants can be planted in one acre of land.

2. Double row system

This can be called as the currently widely used method. Basically, two pairs of pineapples rows are placed between two rows of coconut trees. As before, the planting of pineapple plants starts with a minimum distance of 6.5 feet from each coconut tree. In a pair of pineapple rows here, the spacing between two rows of plants is about 2 feet. In addition, the spacing between two pairs of pineapple rows should be about 8 feet. Using this method, about 5000 pineapple plants can be planted in one acre of land.

Fertilizer application for pineapple

To get a good yield from pineapple cultivation, organic fertilizers as well as recommended chemical fertilizers should be applied properly. Likewise, the PH value of the cultivated soil should be maintained at an optimal level. Dolomite is usually applied when the pH is low.

Chicken manure, manure or compost can (not necessarily) be mixed with the soil of the planting site about two weeks before planting. In organic pineapple cultivation, chicken manure, goat manure and compost manure can also be used properly and a successful harvest can be obtained.

  • Mixtures of chemical fertilizers

Chemical fertilizers can be used as a mixture of fertilizers for pineapple cultivation or as a component. Given below is the amount of fertilizer required for one plant.

  • For dry and intermediate zones

For wet zone

A few things to note

  • Apply fertilizers only when the soil is well moistened.
  • When applying fertilizer for the first time, apply it to the soil near the plant.
  • Then apply the fertilizer in such a way that it falls between the basal leaves. (Make sure that the manure does not fall on the tiller/crown.

Water supply

Adequate irrigation during dry season can ensure good yield. It is important to apply coir or other suitable mulch between the rows of plants to conserve soil moisture. If it is difficult to obtain coir, earth can be placed on top of the rows of pineapples and used as mulch. For the pineapple crop, it is desirable to maintain the soil moisture level close to the field capacity level of the soil for a good yield.

  • Flowering

Flowering in a pineapple plantation usually occurs in the months of January and February. But due to the problems arising in presenting the crops to the market in the same time in natural flowering, artificial flowering stimulation is done to avoid it. For this, synthetically synthesized hormones containing “ethephon” or “naphthalene acetic acid (NAA)” are widely used.


Only ripe fruits should be harvested. The “eyes” on the outer rind of the fruit are well widened and full fruit are considered ripe fruit. Harvesting is done when about 25% of the outer skin of the fruit is yellow. After the first harvest, for the second harvest, the fertilization and maintenance of the pineapple grove should be continued as mentioned earlier.

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