Guava a fairly easy fruit to grow
RODOLFO ROMANIn the morning, walk into a Cuban bakery in South Florida and more than likely patrons will be sipping on coffee and eating guava "pastelitos," which translates to pastry.
Published: May 23, 2012
Published: May 23, 2012
Hispanic residents of Miami may thank the 200 acres of pink ripe guavas grown in the area that add the flavor to their favorite treat.
Jonathan H. Crane, tropical fruit crop specialist, said there isn't an exact number on how much the guavas produce economically, but it could be worth millions.
The fruit is grown in several areas of the state, added Crane.
"Most guavas are grown in Miami-Dade County, some in Palm Beach and Lee, and some in other South Florida counties," he said.
Hispanic Americans eat the fruit in several ways, including with crackers, cream cheese and guava jelly or in simple fruit juice form.
Another ethnic group finds comfort in the fruit, too: Asians, who indulge in the green, hard, crunchy white-pulp guavas. There are roughly about 300 acres of white-pulp guava in Florida, Crane said.
Guava is eaten raw in Pakistan and India, while in the Philippines the guava is used in cooking "sinigang," a soup.
Crane said guava has many health benefits.
"It is high in vitamin C and antioxidants," he said.
Growing a guava tree is simple and doable in a backyard. Guavas adapt well to warm subtropical to tropical climate conditions.
The tree begins fruit production roughly three to four years after planting, and in the state it could produce two crops per year. The main crop is during the summer, followed by a spring crop. However, it may produce yearlong.
Spacing is essential, and it must be planted in full sun. For proper care, a young guava tree should be fertilized every one or two months during the first year. The trees should be watered every other day for the first week or so and then roughly two times a week for the first couple of months.
The trees can be harmed by several factors, so take note of insect pests that could put the fruit at risk. The Caribbean fruit fly, guava whitefly, red-banded thrips, guava fruit moth and scales can all affect it. The roots can be attacked by nematodes, which are microscopic roundworms.
Crane added that the plant could vary in production.
"That depends upon its size, but probably several hundred pounds a year," he said.
When picking a guava there are a couple of things to take into account.
"For pink guavas, look for when they turn light green/yellow," he said. "White guava should be picked when it is still hard and green but large size — they are eaten like apples, hard."
Once hand-picked, enjoy the fruit, whether it's eaten or its juice is drank.