Pawpaw farming is delicate, and it requires one to be sure of the best variety that does well in his/her area. There are different pawpaw crops grown today but we will only filter he few important ones in Kenya.
• Honey dew pawpaw variety
This variety originated in India where it is known as Madhu Bindu. It is gynodioecious (some trees have female flowers only and others have hermaphrodite flowers only) in nature and semi-dwarf growing to a height of about 2 meters. On average, its fruits weighs about 1.5 to 2kg and they are dark in clour with some ridging on the surface. Fruits from hermaphrodite trees are elongated and oval while those from female trees are ovoid. The fruit pulp is yellow in colour. This variety yields about 70 kg per tree (about 35 fruits).
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• Pusa variety
The Pusa variety just like the solo variety has many strains developed from it. The Pusa Dwarf pawpaw is a dioecious variety (the males and females are separate plants). The trees are dwarf plants that produce medium-sized oval fruits that weigh 1 to 2 kg. The plant starts bearing fruits from 25 to 30 cm above-ground level and is comparatively drought hardy. This variety is very suitable for high-density planting hence best for backyard gardening.
The Pusa Giant variety has plants that grow very fast, are sturdy and tolerant to strong wind. The tree grows to a height of 4.7 to 6 m. This variety is also a dioecious variety with big-sized fruits of between 2.5 and 3 kg. Its fruits are very suitable for canning.
Pusa Majesty is a gynodioecious variety (the plants are either female or hermaphroditic). This variety is tolerant to viral diseases and root knot nematodes. It is suitable for papain production and is comparable to C0.2 variety for papain yield. The fruits are medium-sized weighing between 1 and 1.5 kg, have a round shape and a relatively high quality in terms of self-life. It starts fruiting about 5 months after planting.
Pusa Nanha also known as Mutant Dwarf is dioecious variety, dwarf and precocious. Its fruiting starts at a height of 40 cm within 239 days of planting (approximately 8 months). The tree attains a total height of about 130 cm. The fruits are medium to small with an oval shape and a red to orange flesh that is 3.5 cm.
Pusa Delicious is another gynodioecious variety with medium to tall plants. It starts yielding 8 months after planting and has good quality fruits. The fruit is medium-sized weighing between 1 and 2 kg. They have a deep orange flesh having with excellent flavour. It is grown as a table purpose variety and is also very high yielding.
• The Solo variety
The Solo variety is valued for its productivity, uniform fruit shape and size, and excellent fruit quality. Most of the trees of this variety are hermaphrodite which means the flowers are self-pollinated which produces uniform fruits. The solo fruit is round and shallowly furrowed in female plants and pear-shaped in bisexual plants. The fruits have a yellow-orange pulp and weigh between 0.5 to 1kg.
The main Solo variety has been used to develop other varieties such as
The Sunset Solo is a small to medium-sized, pear-shaped fruit. It has an Orange-red skin and flesh which is very sweet. Its tree is a dwarf but high yielding plant that was developed at the University of Hawaii.
The Vista Solo variety is a medium to large fruit depending on climate. Its fruit has a yellow skin and orange to yellow-orange flesh. It is hardy, compact and of high quality. This variety needs fairly hot weather to develop sweetness. Its flowers are self-fertilizing. It was developed in Vista, California by Ralph Corwin.
The Sunrise Solo variety is the most popular in Kenya and other countries. It has a reddish-orange firm flesh smooth skin, and a high sugar content that makes it sweet. Its plant grows fast maturing and fruiting about 9 months after transplanting, at a height of about 3 feet. It has a hard flesh compared to most pawpaw varieties hence giving it a longer shelf life. It is for this reason that it is preferred for export. It is also adaptable to many climatic conditions, tolerant to viral diseases and its trees are either female or hermaphrodite hence each tree in a plantation bears fruits.
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The CO-1 variety is selection from the Ranchi variety done by Tamil Nadu Agricultural University in Coimbatore, India. The plant is a dwarf, producing the first fruit at a height of 60 to 75 cm from the ground level. Its fruits are medium-sized, round and have a smooth greenish-yellow skin. The fruit flesh is orange-yellow, soft but firm. It is moderately juicy with good keeping-quality. The fruit is liked more since is does not have the rather unpleasant papain odour.
The CO-2 variety is a strain purified from a local variety in India at Agricultural College and Research Institute of Coimbatore. It is a dioecious variety with good papain yield of about 4 to 6 g per fruit. Each fruit weighs about 1.5 to 2.0 kg. The fruit contains 75% pulp with a pulp thickness of 3.8cm. Fruits are oblate and large in size with orange coloured flesh that is soft but firm. It is a dual purpose variety for fruits and papain extraction. The yield ranges from 80-90 fruits per tree. The fruits contain 8.93% reducing sugars and 9.01% total sugars. The vitamin C content is 50.8 mg per 100g. The papain yield is 250 to 300 kg per hectare.
The CO-3 is a hybrid derivative of the cross between CO.2 (female parent) and Sunrise Solo (male parent). It is a gynodioecious type with most flowers being hermaphroditic. It is suitable as a table variety. The fruits are medium sized with red flesh. The mean fruit weight is 0.5 to 0.8kg. Fruits are pyriform in shape and they exhibit all the desirable characteristics of the Sunrise Solo Variety. The tree yields 90 to 120 fruits in a year.
The CO-4 variety is a hybrid derivative of the cross between CO.1 (female parent) and Washington (male parent). Fruits are medium sized weighing 1.2 to 1.5kg. It is a dioecious type. The fruits have a flesh that is yellow with purple tinge. The tree has purple petiole and stem. This variety is suitable for home gardens. The tree yields 80-90 fruits per annum.
The CO-5 variety is a selection from Washington type. It is a dioecious type suitable exclusively for papain production giving 50-60g of wet papain (about 14.45 g of dry papain) per fruit. It is suitable for growing in all seasons and all soils with good drainage. It yields 75-80 fruits per tree with an average yield of 1500-1600kg of dry papain per hectare. Each fruit weighs about 1.5 to 2.0kg.
The CO-6 is a selection from a giant papaya. The plants are dwarf and dioecious. First harvest can be had in 8 months after planting. It is suitable for papain production giving 7.5 to 8.0g of dry papain per fruit. It is also used for table purpose. It yields 80 to 100 fruits per tree annually. The fruits are medium sized each weighing 2kg with yellow flesh.
The CO-7 is a gynodioecious variety in nature developed through multiple crosses and purified for over four years. The parents are Pusa Delicious, CO-3, CP-75 and Coorg Honey Dew. It is superior to CO-3 papaya in many aspects. The first bearing height is about 52.2 cm. It produces 65-70 fruits per tree annually with a total average yield of about 340.9t/ha, which is 45.96% more than CO-3. The fruits are oblong in shape with an attractive and firm red flesh. The crop has an economic duration of 21 months. There are no serious insect pests. It is susceptible to foot rot, collar rot and powdery mildew like other papaya varieties. It can be grown in plains as well as up to an altitude of 1000m above MSL.
• The CO-8 variety is a dioecious strain derived through improvement of CO-2. It has a red pulp and is suitable for dessert, papain production and for and processing and canning. The crop has a production period of 2 years with an average yield of 200 to 230 tonnes per hectare.
• Washington variety
This is an improved pawpaw variety grown mainly for table purpose. The trees are fairly vigorous with tall stems, purple rings, dark purple petiole growing darker towards the lamina and yellow deep flowers. The male and female plants are separate. They produce medium to large size fruits of about 1 to 1.5 kg in weight. The fruits have an ovate to oblong shape having a distinct purple colour ring at its top connected with the fruit stalk. The pulp is yellow-red, very sweet with an agreeable flavour of fine consistency and free from the disagreeable papain odour, making it a most popular variety. The fruits have few seeds and good keeping quality.
• Taiwan pawpaw variety
• While there are quite a number of strains of the Taiwan pawpaw variety, the hybrid Red Lady is the most popular. This strain is an early and very productive fruiter. It is best suited for gardening and can be grown both in the tropical and higher latitude lands. It starts flowering after about 70 days from planting. It sets fruits at a height of about 60 to 80 cm and produces large fruits of an average weight of 2 kg. Each tree produces more than 30 fruits per season. The Red Lady is a self-fertile hybrid whose fruits have an orange-red pulp that is sweet and juicy when ripe. The fruits are rich in vitamins A, C and other nutrients. You will notice a sweet, delicious aroma when it is fully ripe.
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