|Growing Papaya in Florida:|
Specs: Specs (PDF | Español)
Tree and tree types
Giant arborescent plant to 33 ft (10 m)tall; generally short-lived although may live up to 20 years; usually single trunked, no secondary growth.
Papaya fruit is a berry with a thin, smooth exocarp (peel) and thick, fleshy mesocarp surrounding an open cavity containing many small seeds. Fruit may be globose, ovoid, obovoid, and pyriform, 7-35 cm long, and 0.250-10 kg in weight.
In addition, some plants may produce more than one type of flower and exhibit different degrees of male or femaleness. This may be triggered by temperature, changing day length, and soil moisture availability. Female plants produce medium to large round-shaped fruit of good quality and a large seed cavity. Bisexual plants produce small to medium elongated fruit of good quality and a smaller seed cavity. Male plants with bisexual flowers may produce a few, elongated, poor quality fruit.
Papaya plants may be self-pollinating (bisexual plants) or cross pollinated by insects or wind. Pollinators include honey bees, wasps, midges, thrips, surphid flies, and butterflies.
Production (Crop Yields)
Well-cared-for plants may begin to produce flowers 4 months after planting and fruit 7 to 11 months after planting. The amount of fruit produced by a papaya plant varies with the general climate, weather conditions during the year, and plant care. Yields vary from 60 to 80 lbs per tree over a 12 month period.
Spacing and Pruning
Papaya plants should be planted in full sun and at least 10 to 20 ft (3.1-6.1 m) away from other plants, buildings, and power lines. In general, planting 2 to 3 papaya plants 7 to 12 ft (2.1-3.7 m) away from each other will insure that at least one will be fruitful, and it will also facilitate fertilizing and watering.
Papaya plants are not pruned because their main growing point is terminal, and branched trees generally do not produce as well. If the main growing point is damage or killed, side sprouts may grow. Selecting 1 or 2 of the most vigorous shoots and removing the others will facilitate growth and fruiting of the remaining shoots. Tying these side shoots to a stake will reduce the chance they may break off due to a heavy fruit load or high winds.
Removal of dead leaves is a good practice and results in less scarring of the fruit from the base of the leaf petiole. It also reduces disease and insect problems.