Dragon fruit is one of the exotic fruits grown across the world. Dragon fruit is native to Central America, Mexico and South America. A dragon fruit tree is a cactus vine and belongs to the genus of “cactus”. Generally, its flowers are in white or pink in large in size with bell-shaped and tubular. Dragon plant blooms flowers at night and these flowers have an excellent fragrant smell as well. When it comes to fruit, it is fleshy with skin colors of red, yellow or purple. The dragon fruit pulp color can be in red, white, yellow or pink with black seeds. Usually, each dragon fruits weights about 200 grams to 1 kg. This fruit will have sweet or slightly sour taste. With proper orchard management practices, commercial farmers can obtain decent profits with dragon fruit farming. Some of the countries involved in commercial production of dragon fruit are; Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia & Bangladesh.
Horticulture Center of the Department of Agriculture Extension is promoting the fruit for commercial farming among farmers in Dinajpur, Thakurgaon, Panchagarh and Nilphamari in Bangladesh.
In Bangladesh, Normally the dragon fruit flower blooms in April and provide flowers and fruits until November but with the help of artificial light and temperature the researchers have successfully managed to produce its flowers and fruits throughout the year.
Scientific Name or Botanical Name of Dragon fruit: “Hylocereus Undatus”.
Family Name of Dragon fruit: “Cactaceae”.
Varieties of Dragon fruits:
Nowadays there are many species of dragon fruit plants are widely cultivated in the world. The following are popular dragon fruit types.
- Red skin with white flesh ( Hylocereus undatus).
- Red leather with red fruit flesh ( Hylocereus polyrhisus).
- Red leather with dark red fruit flesh somewhat purplish ( Hylocereus costaricensis).
- Yellow skin with white flesh ( Hylocereus megelanthus).
There are three types of dragon fruits are cultivated in bangladesh- all with leathery, slightly leafy skin. These are:
- Hylocereus undatus, red-skinned fruit with white flesh;
- Hylocereus costaricensis, red-skinned fruit with red flesh; and
- Hylocereus megalanthus, yellow-skinned fruit with white flesh,
The horticulture expert said, adding that all three types can be grown in Bangladesh.
Advantages of Dragon fruit Farming:
- Dragon trees can be grown on wide range of soils.
- Dragon trees can be grown in both tropical and sub-tropical regions.
- Dragon plant requires less water.
- Dragon plant requires less maintenance.
- It can tolerate Asian climatic conditions.
- Dragon tree cuttings can be used for further propagation/resale.
- Dragon fruits have excellent demand in local & foreign Markets.
Health Benefits of Dragon fruit:
There are many health benefits of dragon fruit. The bellows mentioned are some of the Health benefits of dragon fruit:-
- Dragon fruits have anti-aging properties.
- Dragon fruits help in treating acne.
- Dragon fruit helps soothing sunburned skin.
- Dragon fruits promote skin health.
- Dragon fruit provides good moisture to dry skin.
- Dragon fruit helps with stomach disorders.
- Dragon fruit lowers cholesterol.
- Dragon fruit promotes healthy hair.
- Dragon fruit is good for weight loss.
- Dragon fruits are good for heart health.
- Dragon fruit improves blood hemoglobin.
- Dragon fruit helps in lowering blood sugar levels.
- Dragon fruit boosts brain function.
- Dragon fruit said to be curing respiratory disorders.
- Dragon fruit is good for eye health.
- Dragon fruit is good for dengue patients.
- Dragon fruit is good for bone health.
- Dragon fruit is good for pregnant women.
- Dragon fruit helps in improving appetite.
- Dragon fruit helps reducing arthritis pain.
- Dragon fruit helps in boosting immune power.
- Dragon fruit helps in preventing renal bone disease.
It can be grown in both tropical and sub- tropical climate conditions. These trees love sun light and survive with minimal average annual rain fall. Dragon trees are very sensitive to frost conditions and should be avoided such scenarios.
Dragon fruits can be grown in wide range of soils. It is better to avoid water stagnation locations as it causes the root rot disease resulting in heavy crop loss. The ideal soil pH range for dragon fruit farming is 5.00 to 8.5.
Dragon fruits can be propagated by deeds and cuttings. Moreover, seed propagation is little tough and it will take long time to grow. For commercial growers prefer the propagation through cuttings.
Dragon plants require very less water as compared to other fruit crops as it belongs to cactus family. This tree can survive without water for months. Moreover, in heavy drought conditions or fruit setting phase requires water once in 4 days. It is good idea to have a drip irrigation method for better utilization of water and weed suppressing.
Pests and Diseases:
There are no serious or particular pests and diseases found in dragon fruit farming. Fruits should be protected especially from birds and other predators. Apart from this there a chance that it may be affected by fungal or root rot diseases due to over-watering or heavy rains. Soil must be good drainage and over-watering should be avoided.