The land meant for papaya cultivation must be well-protected from strong winds and must not get waterlogged easily during rains. In case of strong winds, there must be windbreaks around the land. The seeds are first sown in nurseries and the seedlings are transplanted to the main field after about 6-8 weeks of growth.
Before transplantation, pits of dimensions 50cm X 50cm X 50cm are dug a month and filled with farm yard manure, organic waste and soil. 2-3 seedlings are transplanted per pit. When the plants start flowering only one plant per pit should be kept. In order to avoid weeds, hoeing is done regularly for the first year. Once the plants start flowering, only 10% male plants are kept scattered in the orchard while the rest are removed.
Intercropping in Papaya Cultivation in India
Papaya is intercropped with crops like coconut, peanut, Pineapple, jackfruit, coffee, etc. in India. They are also planted as fillers for litchi, guava and mango. This is mainly because they stay in the field for 2-3 years. In case papaya is cultivated in the entire orchard, then vegetables like garlic, turnip, onionn, cauliflower etc. are grown for the first year. However, no crops are cultivated alongside after the first year since competition for nutrition is likely at later stages.
Frost Protection in Papaya Farming in India
Since papaya is sensitive to frost, in North India, papaya cultivation must have adequate frost protection. Frost occurs during the months from December to February. Generally, planting is done before the onset of winter. In addition, the plants are covered by thatching around them with polythene bags of the plant size. The bags must have air holes punched in them on the upper side. This is for the first winter. The next year, gunny bags can be used to wrap the plant around the fruit and at the apex.
Diseases in Papaya Plantation
The main diseases that affect papaya crop are anthracnose, powdery mildew, stem rot and damping off.
Aphids, red spider mite, stem borer, fruit flies, grey weevils and grasshoppers are the insects attacking papaya plants. Destroying the infected part and spraying prophylactic spray like 0.3% dimethoate would help control them.
When the fruits are fully grown and start developing a tinge of yellow color at the apex, it is time to harvest them. Another indication of harvesting time is the latex. Once the latex start turning watery instead of being milky, the fruits must be harvested. Not all papaya varieties turn yellow on ripening. Some turn yellow while others remain green even when fully ripe.
The economic life of papaya lasts for a maximum of 4 years. However, farmers do not extend its life beyond 2-3 years as from the 3rd yes production decreases. Good farm management and timely care can increase papaya production to a great degree.
At the time of harvest, papayas must not suffer any injuries or blemishes. These can cause a risk of fungal contamination. In that case the fruits would start decaying quickly thus reducing their market value. Since they are perishable fruits, each individual papaya must be wrapped separately in paper and then placed in wooden crates. The crates must be filled with straw, sawdust and other such soft material to protect the papayas from transportation injuries.
Papaya cultivation does not require too much hard work. It is a versatile crop and can be cultivated for vegetables, fruits and latex, even the dry leaves has market value as raw material for medicine