Dragon fruit (Hylocereus spp., Cactaceae), an exotic fruit, has received worldwide recognition and now is gaining attention among fruit growers of the eastern region due to its economic potential and nutritional values. It is a rich source of vitamins, fiber and minerals and has high anti-oxidative property. It is a perennial cactus known for its edible fruits. Its cultivation has started in some parts of West Bengal and in Andhra Pradesh. However commercial exploitation is yet to be done.
Considering the market potential of dragon fruit (Rs. 120-150/fruit), the Central Horticultural Experiment Station (ICAR-IIHR), Bhubaneswar has introduced and started its cultivation in 2015. Two types of dragon fruit (Hylocereus undatus); white fleshed and red fleshed are under cultivation at the station.
It has been planted at a distance of 2.5 m and trained on GI angle. 4-5 cuttings are planted at a place which grows as a plant subsequently. About 2000 -2500 plants can be accommodated in one hectare. Plants started bearing fruits within a year of planting.
Flowers are large (20-25 cm) white colour, night blooming and cross pollinated. Fruits take only 25-28 days from flowering to get matured. Maturity can be judged with the change of fruit colour from green to red. Fruit has excellent taste and its texture is similar to kiwifruit. Fruit has high pulp content (65 to 70%) wherein abundant dark brown or black seeds are distributed. TSS varies 12 to 14 °B and acidity 0.16 to 0.20%. Initially each plant bears 4-8 fruits weighing 180-220g. About 4-6 tonnes of dragon fruit can be harvested from one hectare if properly managed. Considering its high market value, growers of the region may earn substantially high return from by cultivating dragon fruit as a sole crop or an intercrop.