Fruit attributes depend on cladode length and width in Opuntia ficus-indica variety ‘Rojo Pelón’ in Zacatecas, Mexico
Keywords:cactus pear; fruiting cladodes; “nopal de castilla”; pruning.
Opuntia ficus-indica (L.) Miller is an important crop in Mexico and around the world. This
species grows in a wide range of environmental conditions. This implies a great variability
in fruit yield and fruit ripening. The aims of this three-year study were: i) to compare O.
ficus-indica fruit and cladode size attributes among years by means of the Tukey test, and
ii) to estimate O. ficus-indica fruit attributes dependence on length or width of 1-year old
fruiting cladode measures for the ‘Rojo Pelón’ variety through the boundary-line approach.
Data from 169 terminal 1-year old fruiting cladodes and their 1,281 fruits were collected
during 2012, 2013, and 2014 from an experimental orchard in Zacatecas, Mexico. The
boundary-line approach was used to identify the dependence of number of fruits, mean fruit
weight or load per cladode on 1-year fruiting cladode’s length or width. Influence of rainfall
was identified increasing the fruit weight per cladode, but not the number of fruits. Fruiting
occurred when cladodes have at least 16 cm length and 11 cm width. Cladodes with ? 18.5
cm to ? 50 cm of length are linked to the vertex (X= 37.7 cm, Y= 154.1 g) and cladodes with
? 12 cm to ? 25 cm of width are linked to the vertex (X=17.5 cm, Y= 156.8 g). Pruning based
on these cladode sizes may reduce variability of fruit yield and increase the probability of
having 105.7 g (or more) of mean fruit weight per cladode leaving eight fruits or more with
an acceptable commercial size.