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ISHS Acta Horticulturae 787: International Workshop on Tropical and Subtropical Fruits

AN IMPROVED TECHNIQUE OF PROPAGATING 'EKSOTIKA' PAPAYA

Authors:   S.T. Chong, R. Prabhakaran, H.K. Lee
Keywords:   cleft grafting, hermaphrodite, rootstock, scion, side-shoots
Abstract:
'Eksotika' papaya segregates 2:1 for hermaphrodite and female trees and only hermaphrodite fruits are marketed in the high-end export markets. Previous methods to increase the hermaphrodite stand such as multiple point planting and in-field side-cleft grafting of hermaphrodites to replace female trees are both inconvenient and incur high establishment costs. A novel and much better approach are by cleft grafting papaya seedling at the nursery stage. Scions are first produced by cutting back certified hermaphrodite trees to induced production of side-shoots. Side-shoots can be harvested as scions for grafting at 4 wks after cutting back and about 2-3 scions can be harvested per week from a single mother plant. The 8-week old rootstock is topped-off and a slit is made for the insertion of the 'V' trimmed scion. The grafting region is wrapped firmly with parafilm before covering with plastic bag to retain humidity. The plant is ready for field planting 8 wks after grafting. The advantage of grafted papaya trees is that it bears fruits much lower and earlier and is dwarf in stature with longer economic life cycle. This technique opens up new possibilities in the commercial cultivation of papaya. It will establish a pure stand of hermaphrodite trees and there is also potential in utilizing rootstocks for tolerance to 'wet-feet' and soil-borne diseases. The areas for commercial papaya cultivation can be expanded further to include marginal areas with the use of appropriate rootstocks. This novel technology will certainly boost the production and income of papaya farmers.
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