Growth and nutrient accumulation in the aerial part of red Pitaya (Hylocereus sp.)

Abstract Knowledge on the amounts of nutrients accumulated by pitaya in its different development stages allows defining the periods in which the essential elements are most required, thus contributing to the elaboration of rational fertilization programs for the crop, reducing production costs. This study aimed to evaluate the growth and nutritional requirement of red pitaya, estimating the accumulation of macro and micronutrients by the plants and determining the periods in which the greatest accumulations occur, as well as the relative growth rate and the relative nutrient absorption rate. Pitaya seedlings were planted in pots containing Argissolo Vermelho-Amarelo Eutrófico (Ultisol) and grown in the open air. The experimental design was randomized blocks, with four replicates and seven sampling times: 0, 60, 120, 180, 240, 300 and 360 DAP (days after planting). At each sampling time, length of cladodes, dry matter of the aerial part and nutrient accumulation in the aerial part were evaluated. Red pitaya plants showed a low growth rate until 60 days and, from this period, its growth increased significantly. Nutrient accumulation occurred in the following descending order: K > Ca > N > Mg = P > S > Na element > Zn > Mn > Fe > B > Cu. K and Zn were, respectively, the most exported macro and micronutrient by pitaya fruits.