Sun, Mar 03, 2013 - Page 3 News List

COA devises way to ripen dragon fruit during winter

JUICY NEWS:It takes a longer period to grow the fruit during the winter, allowing it to become more nutritious and sweeter, the council said

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Dragon fruit plants are pictured at the Council of Agriculture’s Taichung District Agricultural Research and Extension Station yesterday.

Photo: CNA, provided courtesy of Taichung District Agricultural Research and Extension Station

The Council of Agriculture’s (COA) Taichung District Agricultural Research and Extension Station said it has devised a method of adjusting the lights used to cultivate dragon fruits, also known as pitaya, that allows the fruit to ripen even in winter.

The dragon fruit grows on triangular cactus-like vines, and originated in the tropical areas of the Americas, the station said, adding that it is a relatively new fruit that has become popular in Taiwan in recent years and is mostly harvested in the summer.

However, by using adjusted lights on the plants to manipulate its growth period, the station said that people in Taiwan can now enjoy eating dragon fruits in the winter.

It added that because the winter dragon fruit grows in colder weather, with drastic fluctuations between day and night temperatures, the growing period is longer than the ones that grow in the summer, allowing it to accumulate more nutrition and an even sweeter flavor.

Dragon fruit farms in Taiwan cover a total area of about 877 hectares, it said.

There are two kinds of dragon fruit pulp: the red pulp tastes sweeter while the white pulp has a more crisp and refreshing texture, the station said.

The fruit contains nutrients such as calcium, iron, phosphorus, B vitamins, vitamin C and dietary fiber as well as betanin, which is an anti-oxidant and helps against aging, it added.

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