How to Grow Pequi (Plant care and Harvesting)

How to grow pequi

The pequi or souari nut is native to Cerrado, Brazil and grows naturally wherever this type of vegetation is found. Ecologically, the species plays an important role in the composition of the cerrado. The fruits and seeds are overexploited due to their wide uses, especially in the use of natural and edible oils. 

The pequi tree has the great advantage of having chiropterophily syndrome (being pollinated by bats) in addition, it is also highly appreciated and cultivated by the indigenous community of the Cerrado area of Brazil. 

The pequizeiro is a tall tree, with a trunk of 2 to 5 meters in circumference and a height of 15 meters to 20 meters, and this must be taken into account when calculating the space to plant it.

How to sow the pequizero?

It is a very important tree for the environment, which not only subtracts nutrients from the earth but also brings a lot of properties to it, so, next, we will see the steps to grow the pequizeros.

  • Step 1: Structure the place of cultivation

Planting should be built on beds 1 meter wide and a bed 4 inches (10cm) thick (containing coarse and sifted sand).  The holes are sown with a space of 0,5 in (1cm) between them and covered with 0,5in (1cm) of sawdust.

  • Step 2: Germination. 

Seeds should be obtained from healthy plants, which have large seeds, thick pulp and colors ranging from yellow to orange.  The harvest usually takes place between October and January, and the grafting, which is the union of the tissues of two plants, is carried out from October to March.

For good germination, the fruits should be harvested when they are fully ripe.  Subsequently, the shell and seeds are removed from the bone, placing them in a pile in a clean container for a week.

The removal of the pulp is carried out in running water, or in a concrete mixer, which is the agitation of the seeds with crushed stone of medium and thick. The seeds are dried in the shade, in a ventilated place, for one or two weeks.

Germination is slow. For best results, the seeds should be soaked for 48 hours in gibberellic acid (stimulant for plant development) and then sown.

  • Step 3: Planting.

Watering should be done daily to keep the seedbed moist. Seedlings can be transplanted into polyethylene bags, which are black, accordion-shaped and perforated (at the base and on the side), with a capacity of 4 liters of substrate.

In the nursery, these bags are placed in beds of 2, 3 or 4 rows, with a space of 23 to 31 inches (60-80cm). It is recommended that the seedlings remain in the nursery until the next rainy season when they will be ready for planting or grafting.

Planting takes place at the beginning of the rainy season, preferring warm climates. The recommended distance between plants goes from 26 to 32 feet (8 to 10 m).  The holes must have dimensions of 15 x 15 x 15 in (or 40 cm wide, long and deep). 

For medium-textured soils, the rates of limestone and simple superphosphate should be reduced to 80% and 60%, respectively. In addition, fertilizer is mixed with the soil of wells. Then remove the plastic bag, plant and water the seedling well, and then cover the surface of the hole with dry plant material or organic matter.

Climate and temperature

The climate of this tree is tropical, it resists temperatures from 25 °C to 36 °C (77 to 96°F).

Soil conditions

The soil should contain 30% to 40% clay and not be sandy so it does not break during planting. 

Grafting

It is carried out in the warm months of the year by simple lateral bifurcation, upper bifurcation and bud, being carried out when the seedlings reach from 0,2 to 0,4 inches (0,6 to 1,0 cm) in diameter in the stem and from 7-11 inches (20 – 30 cm) in height.

Fertilizers

After planting, it is necessary to promote three cover fertilizations with 25 g of ammonium sulfate and 10 g of potassium chloride, every 40 days until the end of the rainy season.

In addition, it is suggested to carry out annual fertilization, starting with 150 g per year of planting and increasing 150 g each year, with doses of 5%, 2.5% and 2.5% of, respectively, zinc sulfate, copper sulfate and manganese. 

Pest control

The antifungal activity of the leaves (crude ethanolic extract, ethyl acetate fraction and epicuticular wax) of the two main components present in the essential oil of the seeds, in addition to the fixed pequi seed oils.

It was verified in this work that the most active part against fungi is the epicuticular wax of the leaf, collected in the dry period, inhibiting the growth of 91.3% of fungal isolates.

The main diseases that occur in pequi seedlings are root rot and leaf rust.  To avoid root rot, it is recommended to use a substrate with up to 10% manure and 40% clay, and plastic bags should be well perforated so that they do not accumulate water.

The leaves should also be sprayed with fungicides to control oxidation.  In addition, the application of termite and ant kills is recommended to prevent or control termites.

Crops

The pequi tree blooms from August to November, with fruits ripening from September (usually November) to early February.

The pequizero produces seedlings that begin to come out 4-5 years after planting.  The fruit will be ready to be harvested when it reaches the ripening stage, which is when it detaches from the plant. Subsequently, they are transported to the place of commercialization, where they are peeled, taking advantage of the seed and pulp.

Frequently asked questions

The pequi fruit or souari nut, like its tree, are not so common outside the Brazilian regions, so it is normal for doubts to arise, which need answers, such as: 

How is the pequizero watered?

When the tree is planted and covered with enough fertilizer, it is necessary to water it with a lot of water, since it grows in moisture. The best way to water is to take a bottle and make several small holes in the lid, filling the bottle with water and watering the area where you planted the pequizero, this strategy will give the feeling of rain to the earth and we will obtain better results.

We must water the plant every time we see the somewhat dry soil.

What kind of fertilizers can be used in the pequizero?

In addition to needing fertile land to grow and be productive, the pequizero also requires fertilizers that promote the nutrients that the soil and the plant need, one of the most recommended products is FLOWAL Mn, a fertilizer based on manganese, which is a very essential micronutrient for the development of plants.

This fertilizer should be applied in the middle of the shoot or development of the seedlings. Also, recommends throwing it using foliar fertilization, where the product is diluted with water and sprayed throughout the plant, causing greater acceleration and better results. It should also be used when the sun is at its lowest. 

How long does it take for the pequi fruit to ripen?

The souari nut takes time and investment, the maturity period of one of the most famous brazil nuts is approximately 35 to 45 days.

Is the pequi fruit edible? How can it be consumed?

Pequi is edible, although, it is a bit difficult to consume because the grain is full of thorns, which causes that eating it causes pain instead of pleasure.

However, the regions that are around the crops of these trees have looked for ways to delight their palate with the fruit through rich dishes, and even roast the seeds to eat them.

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