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Dragonfruit Farming in South Africa

According to the latest agriculture insights there has been an extraordinary surge in interest for Dragonfruit farming in South Africa. And many of the early farmers are of the opinion that Dragonfruit will soon become one of South Africa's top fruit crops for both the local market and the export market (especially considering the year round global demand and the fact that most fruit are currently grown in the northern hemisphere). The plant is exceptionally hardy and resilient which is great for our South African climate.

According to some of our established local farmers you only need half the water requirement per kg of fruit produced compared to citrus or avocado. Temperature wise the plants prefer 20 to 30 degrees but can withstand temperatures of between 0 to 40. When it comes to low lying areas that have a problem with frost in the winter, the plants would have to be grown in a tunnel.

In terms of infrastructure and capital expenditure; you are typically looking at around R200k per hectare. This will include weed mats, drip irrigation and support structures. The support structure are typically either based on a trellis system or individual concrete poles on which the plants can be trained up.

Of course for those looking to try their hand at growing dragonfruit at home, nothing stops you from planting in pots (supported by a small training post) which really won't be that expensive.

In terms of production; fruit can be expected from year 2 onwards (depending on growing conditions). Yield will start at around 10 tons and eventually be upwards of 20 tons per Ha / year. And with prices currently upwards of R50/Kg you can make the calculations.

There are many different and sometimes even the same varieties of dragonfruit that are spread under a host of common names but here at organic roots we have decided to focus on the Hylocereus Costaricensis variety which we specifically chose for their beautifully large and very sweet purple-fleshed fruit. This variety is also self-fertile meaning pollination isn't a concern for growers.

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