Saturday, December 09, 2006


On our recent trip to Hawaii, Nikkala and I stopped by the Dole Plantation. It was a lot of fun and we learned quite a bit about pineapples and how they are grown. Have you ever wondered how they were grown? Did you think they grew on a vine, on a tree, underground...? Well, I'm going to share some things I learned about pineapples.

1- Pineapples are a member of the Bromeliaceae family. This is the same family as Spanish Moss and some other tropical plants. It is native to Jamaica and has been grown in the New World for centuries.

2-Christopher Columbus is thought to have brought it back to Spain and it quickly spread throughout Europe. Spain is thought to have taken it to the Philippines, Guam, and Hawaii. Pineapple was not grown much commercially in the early years because it does not keep very long and it couldn't be grown in places outside the tropics and greenhouses.

3- James Dole came up with the idea to can pineapple and began marketing it around 1900. It was a huge success and his 60 acre farm grew to cover more than 250,000 acres across several islands.

4- It takes 18 months after planting to produce the first pineapple. They take 3 crops off each plant over a 5 year span.

5- Pollinated pineapple blossoms are not desirable, so hummingbirds (the primary pollinator of pineapple) are not allowed on the islands of Hawaii.

6- Pineapples are planted and grown vegetatively (just like potatoes). They whack off the tops of the fruit and place it in the ground where it grows roots and the leaves off the top of the pineapple become the new plant. Here is a man planting pineapples.

7- Pineapples are grown in beds and irrigated using drip irrigation. The ground is covered with black plastic as a mulch to keep weeds out and disease out. Since it is a monoculture, they have big problems with disease and weeds, therefore, the photos show a lot of plastic on the ground as a byproduct of the mulching practice. Notice on the first photo there is a star showing the drip tape coming out of the main feeder hose. Just an FYI, I've been doing research on using drip irrigation in potato beds, that's why I find it interesting.

8- Pineapples are harvested by hand with this large machine. People walk behind the long boom that sticks out and place the pineapples they pick onto the boom where they are taken to the main covered area and boxed up for shipment.

9- Pineapple grow out of the main plant attached at the base. They will NOT ripen after picked, therefore it does no good buying a green pineapple from the store and letting it sit for a few days before eating. They are picked ripe and the sooner you eat it, the better it will taste. Fresh pineapple in Hawaii is allowed to ripen a bit more since it will be consumed sooner, that is why pineapple brought back from the island always tasted the best.

10- Pineapple on a hamburger is really good. So is the fantastic pineapple split... yummy Dole Whip on top of chunked pineapple with coconut topping and caramel...all encased in a half of pineapple...YUMMY!!! Anyone going to Hawaii should eat them both!