The reddish-pink fruit exterior with green scales looks exotic and perhaps this is the reason why it has its mystical name. This fruit encloses white, pink, red or purple pulp which, more recently has a sweet flavour and is enormously refreshing! When looking instore for fruit be sure to ask for the Fruit bearing our little red tree sticker – because that is the mark of Sweet Dragon Fruit and taste excellence!
What the growers needs to consider:
Dragon Fruit planting material, (only cultivars that produce sweet tasting fruit) is available from Amorentia Sweet Dragon Fruit Nursery for the commercial grower. Rooted plants cost 20% less than the price of Macadamia trees and 70% less than Avocado trees and ASDF’s crop modelling shows the potential for a positive cashflow in year 3 or 4, rather than yeas 7 to 8 as is the case for Macadamia and Avocado production. The initial capital cost to develop 1 hectare of Dragon fruit is higher than these crops but the return on investment makes it an attractive option to commercial growers, in subtropical and temperate areas which are frost free.
The development of ASDF hectares is growing steadily and the ASDF Marketing company is encouraged by the leap in the demand for the exotic superfood. Last year Covid -19 certainly put a spanner in the works for ASDF as we had to abandon trials with certain retailers, having to cancel tastings and other events, but so far this year, the market has regained its bullishness.
Consumers are starting to pay attention to Dragon Fruit and more importantly, there is a growing confidence due to the availability of sweet tasting selections in a variety of local outlets; from SA’s top supermarkets, mini markets, municipal markets, and fruit is also available online from health food markets.
“The reason why previous attempts to successfully market Dragon Fruit have not succeeded, is due to the old selections of poor tasting Dragon fruit. In the case of these exciting, Sweet cultivars, the marketing is focused, showcasing the superior taste of the Trademarked ASDF selections. Previously there was little effort to differentiate any exciting, dynamic and sweet tasting fruit from older, bland tasting cultivars.”
The potential for the export market is now notable with interest for ASDF selections in Europe. With an already flourishing market in Vietnam producing a million tons of Dragon Fruit annually, the evidence is clear that as our production increases, there is an opportunity for South African growers to supply into the Northern Hemisphere.
The local price thus far has remained solid. It is too early to tell, as we still have much of the season to get through, but it appears that, despite the increase in hectarage, supply is down, with many growers in the northern regions of South Africa having experienced incredible summer rains. The Dragon Fruit flower opens overnight and closes the next morning, leaving a very small window for pollination to occur. The plants produce a series of flowers throughout a season, therefore with seemingly drier months ahead of us, there is hope for an opportunity of an increase in production for the remainder of the season.
For Dragon Fruit production, the plant being from the cactus family, the water requirements are considerably lower than for Macadamias, Avocados and Citrus. They require a third of the water, if not less. ASDF growers have recorded their irrigation requirements, as low as 700 cubic meters per ha per year, depending on the rainfall in the area.
Nutrition requirements are being tweaked all the time as we see certain methods producing results in different regions with varying results, highlight the impact of microclimates, like with most commercial crops.
For the customer learning about Dragon Fruit:
Our remarkable Sweet Dragon Fruit is a Superfood and is packed with health benefits and is east to eat in a variety of exciting ways.
- Lowers blood sugar levels and blood pressure.
- Strengthens bones and teeth.
- Promotes healthy blood and tissue.
- Strengthens the immune system.
- It slows down the Aging Process.
- Reduces Inflammation
- Prevents Cancer
Also known as Pitaya, Dragon Fruit, contains certain beneficial vitamins and minerals.
The fruit is rich in antioxidants, Vitamins B1, B2, B3 and C, polyunsaturated fatty acids, carotene, protein, calcium, iron, and phosphorus.
How to prepare your Sweet Dragon Fruit:
- Slice in half and scoop flesh out with a spoon.
- Peel and dice into blocks.
- Enjoy alone, in a fruit salad or a garden salad.
- Blend into a smoothie or a juice.
- Make ice lollies or ice cream.