June 2019 – Crop of the Month
Pineapple Guava – Scientific Name: Feijoa sellowiana, Acca sellowiana
Written by: Kirby Fry
The pineapple guava is native to the tropics of South America but has naturalized in subtropical and sub temperate regions all around the world. It is a well shaped, evergreen bush or small tree with attractive flowers that grows 10 to 15 wide and just as tall. It can be used ornamentally and even be pruned into more formal appearing hedgerows.
A mature pineapple guava can tolerate freezes as low as 12 degrees Fahrenheit, but plants 3 years and younger can die back during freezing temperatures and should be protected with frost cloth for their first few years. The pineapple guava does very well in Central Texas cities where there is a “heat island” effect and along the Gulf Coast.
There are a few different varieties that are available such as ruby (red fleshed fruit), supreme (white fleshed fruit), Indonesian seedless, and crunchy white. These varieties are not always available in local nurseries though, and may need to be ordered from a catalogue or online.
The fruit varies in size and sweetness, and grows to be anywhere from an inch in length up to 3 or 4 inches in length. A young pineapple guava tree will produce half a bushel of fruit (4 gallons of dry fruit) by its third year. A mature tree will produce 3 or more bushels per year, or 24 gallons of dry weight fruit or more.
In Central Texas a pineapple guava will probably not achieve its full size and so can be planted 10 to 12 feet apart. It should be planted out of the way of freezing north western winds, and be given western shade. It likes well drained sandy loam soils with a little bit of clay in them.
Dig a hole twice the size of the container that it comes in and water it in well after planting. It needs a little extra water in the hottest time of the summer, usually two slow and deep waterings per week will suffice. Fertilize your pineapple guava with an organic form of nitrogen such as alfalfa meal during mid summer and early fall when it begins to flower. The fruit will begin to ripen mid fall.
Gradually prune your pineapple guava, removing branches growing straight out from the trunk less than 1 foot off of the ground. To shape it into a small tree remove the lower one third of the branches to encourage vertical growth. It can be pruned into a more formal hedgerow but more aggressive pruning will set back fruit production the following fruiting season.
The main pest for pineapple guava in Texas, mostly in the Rio Grande Valley, are root-knot nematodes, which can be addressed by adding organic matter fine mulch such as grass clippings) and compost over the plant’s roots.