Once you recognize what a dragon fruit seems like, you’ll always remember it. The vivid pink, generally yellow or purple, scaly pores and skin makes for a dramatic look. One that may absolutely depart an impression. The flesh ranges from white to a deep pink and the flavour is commonly described as having hints of kiwi, watermelon, or pear.
Since 2007, the Pitahaya/Dragon Fruit Production Tour, has united dragon fruit growers of all ranges and backgrounds. After a two-year hiatus because of the pandemic, registration for the 2022 tour stuffed up in lower than 24 hours.
A gaggle of 60 contributors gathered Sept. 8 on the Wallace Ranch Dragon Fruit Farm in Bonsall to study the newest analysis on rising the drought-tolerant specialty crop. Ramiro Lobo, a small farms and agricultural economics advisor for UC Cooperative Extension in San Diego County, launched dragon fruit growers and different UC scientists.
“I am unable to keep in mind a 12 months the place this occasion was not offered out. So, the necessity and demand is there,” mentioned Eyal Givon, a long-time participant and dragon fruit grower.
The tour not solely demonstrates learn how to develop the fruit, but it surely additionally grants contributors entry to plant materials for varieties which can be unavailable elsewhere.
“We have given out about 50,000 cuttings by means of our competition and a few varieties had been distinctive to us as a result of we launched them to the U.S.,” mentioned Lobo.
During their time at Wallace Ranch, contributors heard from the farm’s proprietor, Neva Day, relating to the rising practices which have formed her success as we speak. Day has been rising natural dragon fruit since 2013 and has properly over 5,000 vegetation on the bottom and greater than 20 varieties.
Kevin Brixey, proprietor of Dragon Delights Farm, shares his expertise as a grower.
Eric Middleton, UCCE built-in pest administration space advisor for San Diego County, talked about managing bugs and pests that growers are more likely to encounter resembling Argentine ants.
According to Middleton, Pecan Sandies are a balanced supply of fats, protein, and sugar, making them glorious bait for the sugar-loving bugs.
Participants finally made their technique to Dragon Delights Farm situated in Ramona. Kevin Brixey, the farm’s proprietor, has been rising natural dragon fruit for six years.
Although Brixey was internet hosting this 12 months’s tour contributors, he was one in every of them.
“I attended the Pitahaya Festival in 2014 and that is the place I noticed dragon fruit was one thing I might develop. There was lots of good data being shared and a connection to different growers, so it was a significant steppingstone for me,” he says.
Unlike conventional dragon fruit growers, Brixey makes use of shade to develop his dragon fruit after studying concerning the methodology from one other grower.
“I used to be impressed. I appreciated how the fruit carried out below shade and now I take advantage of it as a administration software,” Brixey defined. In Inland Valleys, shade can protect fruit from intense daylight and shield them from undesirable visitors that eat the fruit, resembling birds.
To shield the fruit from bugs and birds, the pitahaya/dragon fruits are coated with a mesh bag.
At the Farm Bureau of San Diego County workplaces, contributors realized concerning the historical past of dragon fruit rising in California, meals security, pest administration, finest manufacturing practices and far more.
The presenters included consultants like Paul Erickson from Rare Dragon Fruit, Lobo, Middleton, Johanna del Castillo from UC Davis Department of Plant Pathology and Ariana Reyes, a neighborhood schooling specialist from UCCE San Diego.
When reflecting on his time collaborating within the manufacturing tour, Givon, who has been rising dragon fruit for about 20 years and manages a 20-acre farm in Moorpark, mentioned he enjoys reconnecting with different growers essentially the most.
“What others are doing, is likely to be higher than what I’m doing,” Givon mentioned. “Or what I’m doing, may very well be higher than what another person is doing. This time collectively is sweet for us to study from one another.”
Lobo agreed with Givon and added, “I hope that these excursions grow to be self-sustained, and that we return to a analysis subject day at Southcoast REC with regional excursions in San Diego and Ventura as we did earlier than, or some other counties.”
The Pitahaya/Dragon Fruit Production Tour is an annual occasion hosted by UCCE San Diego. To study extra about UCCE San Diego occasions, go to https://cesandiego.ucanr.edu.