SpongeBob Squarepants, of course. Which really has nothing to do with this post, except for the fact that SpongeBob lives in a pineapple house.
Hawaii is famous for pineapples. The plantations of Hawaii produce approximately one-third of the world’s pineapples and sixty percent of the canned products. The pineapple industry generates almost $3 billion annually and creates over 40,000 jobs in Hawaii.
John and I toured the Dole Plantation right down the road. We are surrounded by acres of pineapples growing. The soil is rust coloured because of oxidized iron from the decomposed volcanic ash.
Pineapple “crowns” (green leafy top of the pineapple) are used as starter seeds, and each one is planted in rows, by hand. A skilled worker can plant about 10,000 crowns per day – about 1/2 an acre. Black plastic mulch is used to control weeds are retain heat and moisture for the growing plants. All of the rows are irrigated. It takes 18 – 20 months for the first pineapple to be produced, and then 13 – 15 months after that for the second fruit. All the pineapples are harvested by hand. Workers – wearing heavy clothing and gloves to protect themselves from the sharp leaves – walk through the rows and twist the ripe pineapple off from the base. The fruit is then placed on conveyor booms to be graded and packed.
After the second fruit crop is harvested, the plants are knocked down and the field will be cultivated. Pineapple production in Hawaii is year-round.
Interesting Facts About Pineapples
– Once a pineapple is picked, it won`t ripen any further or get any sweeter. The sooner you eat it, the better. If you don`t plan to use it right away, store it in your refrigerator to keep longer.
– The colour of the outer shell of the pineapple is not necessarily a sign of maturity – a pineapple can be ripe even though its shell is still green. Ease of pulling the leaves from the crown is not an indicator of ripeness either.
You can actually grow your own pineapple. Twist the crown off and leave it to dry out in a dark, dry spot for a week. Then plant it in a clay pot with a layer of gravel at the bottom and filled with good quality garden compost matter. You may need to transplant to a larger pot as it grows. Water once a week, and use a household plant fertilizer every three months. Move the pot outside during the warm months – but remember it can`t handle cool temperatures. It will take about 14 months for the fruit to begin to grow. When your pineapple is about 6 months old, it will begin to ripen. Pick and enjoy!