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Pitahaya (Hylocereus spp.): a new fruit crop, a market with a future

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 September 2006

Fabrice Le Bellec
Cirad, UPR Production fruitière, Stn. de Neufchâteau, Capesterre B/E, Guadeloupe, F-97130 France
Fabrice Vaillant
Cirad, UPR Qualité des aliments, Cita, Univ. Costa Rica, 2060 San José, Costa Rica
Eric Imbert
Cirad, UPR bananes et ananas, Blvd. La Lironde, TA 50 /PS 4, Montpellier Cedex 5, F-34398 France
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Introduction. Still practically unknown in the mid-1990s in Europe, pitahaya (Hylocereus spp.) is now a full member of the ‘small exotic fruits’ category in shops. Nevertheless, these species are not very well known. The aims of our work were first to evaluate thoroughly the literature currently available on Hylocereus and secondly to supplement this review by agronomic works not yet published. Knowledge of Hylocereus . The study includes a presentation of the origin, botany, morphology and floral biology of the principal species cultivated within the Hylocereus genus and suggests a key for determination. Cultivation techniques. The agronomical practices used in Hylocereus orchards are broached: multiplication, cultivation practices (supports, density, pruning, mineral nutrition, irrigation, etc.), pollination and harvest. Pests and diseases are cited too. Physico-chemical composition of fruits. This work draws up a review of different studies regarding pitahaya composition, micronutrients and pigments. Post-harvest and processing. The life of the fruit after harvest (conservation and storage life) is approached as well as the various possibilities of processing. European market. The European market is analyzed for the various cultivated species of Hylocereus (imported quantity, market segment, origin of production, etc.) and its evolution prospects are evoked. Conclusion. Our review highlights the fact that the interest shown in these pitahayas is recent and, for these reasons, more detailed knowledge on these species is required (agronomic, genetic and technological).

Research Article
© CIRAD, EDP Sciences, 2006

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