Yield and Growth of Green Cladodes of Prickly Pear (Opuntia ficus-indica) Cultivars under Different Plant Densities
Keywords:Green cladodes yield, growth, plant density.
The experiment was carried out during March through August, 2001, in the experimental field of the Universidad Autónoma de Baja California Sur, in La Paz, B.C.S., Mexico. A complete randomized block design with split-plots arrangement was used. The fresh and dry yield and growth of tender or young cladodes were evaluated in five prickly pear cultivars ‘CEN-1’, ‘SQ-1’, ‘CAL-2’, ‘MEZQ’ and ‘OLA’) under three plant densities (30,000, 60,000, and 90,000 plants ha-1). Results showed that ‘CEN-1’ had the higher fresh and dry yields with 10.61 and 0.586 t ha-1, respectively, followed by the ‘SQ-1’ 1 cv. with 9.95 and 0.527 t ha-1, respectively. Cultivar ‘OLA’ showed lower fresh and dry yields with 4.27 and 0.240 t ha-1, respectively. However, this cultivar showed a greater tender or young cladodes growth (length and width), reaching an average 14.26 cm length and 7.54 cm width in 14.3 days, while the cultivar with smaller growth of green cladodes was ‘CEN-1’, with 11.99 cm length and 4.17 cm width in 18.7 days. Length and width of young cladodes, taking into consideration plant densities, showed the lower values as plant density increased. We suggest ‘CEN-1’ cv. for higher yields and ‘OLA’ cv. to obtain young cladodes of commercial size in the least time in La Paz Valley. In both cases we suggest 60,000 plants ha-1 as the better plant density.