Dragon Fruit Water Requirement and Irrigation Systems

Dragon Fruit (Pitaya)

Eulogia Bohol

Experienced International Fruit Quality Controller, Trader and Farmer.

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As a succulent plant, the Dragon Fruit tree is a drought-tolerant plant that does not require frequent watering, but sufficient soil moisture is needed for good growth and yields.

In general, pitahaya’s water requirements are considered to be similar to papaya’s. A common practice that some farmers apply is leaving their plants unwatered right before flowering to boost the formation of flowers. Irrigation is critical during fertilizer application and flower and fruit development.

For newly planted pitaya, allow the soil to dry before irrigation to avoid rots. When potted, water slowly, wait for the water to flow out the bottom, and then pour the excess water to avoid accumulation—excess drying of soil and less frequent irrigation results in abnormally high splitting of fruit.

What is the Best Watering Method for a Plot-planted Dragon Fruit Tree?

Bottom-watering is recommended because it allows the roots to soak up the moisture they need. This is for the dragon fruit planted in a pot. Make sure to allow excess water from the pits to drip away to prevent overwatering or rotting.

How often to water a Dragon Fruit Plant?

About once every two weeks. This is under normal conditions. The soil should feel dry or slightly damp. But never as hard as rock or swampy. You can use a moisture meter (tensiometer) or just your finger to check the soil moisture level.

Here in my home country, the Philippines, we depend on the actual condition of our environment where the plant is in. In general, dragon fruit plants require 800 to even 2,500 mm of water yearly (either from irrigation or rainfalls). If we get much rain, we may not need water. This is during the rainy season. Moreover, even in the summer, we can still get some rain weekly. In that case, once a week of watering is enough. Dragon fruit does not like its roots to be soaked in water. Too much water, either from overwatering or from excessive rainfall, can cause root rot. If an area gets much rain, the best thing to do is evaluate the drainage system carefully.

How the Irrigation System for Dragon Fruit Plant? 

In general, depending on the size of the plantation and the workforce available, pitahaya plants can be hand-watered (e.g., with buckets or by establishing an irrigation system. In general, micro-irrigation systems offering higher efficiency are nowadays mostly preferred by farmers. Except for their efficiency, these systems are generally cheaper than hand irrigation (since many workers and hours are needed). The drip irrigation system is applied as an innovation for watering dragon fruit plants in many farm globally. Water distributes through a capillary tube, drips through the plant, and control is called through a drip irrigation system.

This is commonly used in the drier area of the country. The water use efficiency of the plants can be dramatically improved (even up to 90%) when drip-irrigation is used since the water is added in smaller quantities and with higher precision closer to the active root system of the plants. At the same time, this system reduces runoff and evaporation of the applied or stored soil water. Finally, when installed on a plantation, it gives the farmer the option to apply fertigation (application of fertilizers through the irrigation system, together with water).

References:

  1. https://www.mdpi.com/2073-4395/10/8/1065
  2. https://www.afcd.gov.hk/english/agriculture/agr_ceg/agr_ceg_new/files/Newsletter201806_CultivationofDragonFruit_E.pdf
  3. https://dfnet.fftc.org.tw/Page/ArticleDetail.aspx?ArticleID=lnAiwTy2d%2Bg%3D&PI=8ttmTAm9Tdg%3D&Co=ztBzV%2F10sco%3D&Ca=8BVa8sMmKqIr3MqS8YFNxw%3D%3D&Ws=ztBzV%2F10sco%3D&Keyword=ztBzV%2F10sco%3D
  4. https://web.uri.edu/safewater/protecting-water-quality-at-home/sustainable-landscaping/drip-irrigation/
  5. https://krishi.icar.gov.in/jspui/bitstream/123456789/23809/1/Dr.Karunkaran,%20vetnum%20proceeding%20.pdf

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