Carica papaya main species of agronomic and economic interest in the family Caricaceae

in StemSocial2 months ago

In this delivery, the content to be socialized deals with the botanical characteristics, phenological behavior, agro-economic and nutritional potential of the species Carica papaya (Caricaceae).


Within the agri-food sector, the fruit segment has experienced sustained growth over the last decade, according to production and marketing indicators, which reflect increased consumption and exports of fresh and processed fruits [1].

Among the fresh fruits, that present greater productive and commercial dynamism, is the Lechosa Carica papaya (Caricaceae), categorized as the third most consumed fruit of tropical origin on a global scale, mainly by its organoleptic acceptance and economic profitability.

Consequently, the objective of this post is to socialize the botanical elements related to the phenological, agronomic, economic and nutritional behavior exhibited by the Lechosa Carica papaya (Caricaceae).

Botanical characteristics

Taxonomically the Caricaceae family, belongs to the division: Magnoliophyta, class: Magnoliopsida, and at the moment it is presented by 6 genera, of which from the commercial point of view the genus Carica is the most important, however, it is necessary to point out that according to artificial descriptors and cytogenetic registries, Carica corresponds to a genus of monospecific character, which indicates, that the taxon is represented by a single species, namely Carica papaya, nevertheless, in a wrong way the species are usually located; V. cauliflora, V. crassipetala, V. cundinamarcensis, V. goudotiana, V. longiflora and V. sphaerocarpa, within the genus Carica, however, in palynological studies it has been demonstrated the multiple morphometric differences of these species with respect to the wild specimens of C. papaya [2].

Fig. 2. Cultivated specimens of Lechosa Carica papaya. Author: @lupafilotaxia.

Morphology of Carica papaya

Carica papaya (Lechosa), is a species of arborescent and evergreen biotype, with central axis of cylindrical and hollow morphology, absent branching system, palmed-composite leaf blades, with lobed morphology and alternate phyllotaxia, unisexual flowers (pistilized or staminated), berries, fleshy, succulent, round, tubular or ellipsoidal in appearance, seeds of gelatinous and mucilaginous consistency [3].

Agronomic aspects

Domestication of Carica papaya

The Lechosa, qualifier or vernacular name used in South American countries to refer to the Carica papaya, is a monospecific genotype, that from the commercial point of view, has been categorized as the third most important fruit tree, fundamentally because, its prolonged Productive Rate allows its exploitation during all the year, besides the important contribution of vitamins, minerals, nutritional value and digestive enzymes (papain) that have its fruits [4] .

In relation to the domestication process, the wild materials of Carica papaya, have adapted to eco-regions of tropical climates, where isothermal conditions prevail, whose climatological oscillations show temperatures around 26 °C, precipitations higher than 2,400 mm per year, clayey and alkaline pH soils.

Phenological behaviour

Even when, in natural conditions the specimens of Carica papaya, are characterized for exhibiting growth, development and reproduction with estimated longevity of 10 years, nevertheless, the commercial specimens, under conditions of agronomic management, produce fruits for more than 20 years, showing a behavior of accelerated vegetative growth, similar to the one expressed by the wild materials in the first months of phenological age (2, 1 cm/day in height), with estimated elongations of 1 m in the first year, with subsequent deceleration until balancing 0.4 cm/day in height and average elongations of 3.95 m in the second year, as regards the reproductive phase, it has been shown that in commercial plantations, flowering begins at 90 days and fruit bearing begins at 120 days, extending from 56 to 140 additional days until the fruit reaches physiological maturity [6].

Fig. 3 Reproductive structures (flowers) of Lechosa Carica papaya. Author: @lupafilotaxia.

Technical-agronomic handling

Seedling production

The main inconvenience, at the moment of producing seedlings of Carica papaya, that will be destined to the establishment of commercial plantations, is the relative one to the sexual expression of the materials, this because, the specimens of Lechosa, are characterized by presenting excessive sexual variability, in environmental conditions that are not favorable to it (nonisothermal climates), from there that, It is recommended to select predominantly hermaphrodite mother plants for seed production, as well as to leave the seedlings for longer periods in the nursery, with the objective of selecting only those materials that exhibit both sexes, even though this last recommendation is not so easy to execute, due to the technical inconveniences that occur during field transplantation.

Planting of seedlings in the field

As it was already indicated, the recommendable thing is to select hermaphrodite materials of Carica papaya, whereas the ideal phenological age is 60 days, with estimated height from 15 to 20 cm, however, with regard to the dimensions of the hole, these must be made at 30 cm of depth and 20 of diameter.

Topographical design of the plantation

The double row method, is the topographic design recommended in the cultivation of Leechosa Carica papaya, this due to the protection that gives this system, to the anchorage, growth and development of the roots, favorable aspect for the rest of the phenological phases of the cultivated material, nevertheless, this method when presenting a high density of sowing, generally causes phytosanitary problems, associated to the low circulation of air between near individuals, reason why, it is recommended to establish monitoring plans, in the search of implementing in time practices of control.

Control of arvens species

The high content of humidity that have the fruits of Lechosa Carica papaya, admit a high hydric demand at crop level, so, the implementation of irrigation systems, is one of the vital activities to be executed in the production units, although it is true that supply the hydric deficits generates physiological equilibrium in the cultivated specimens of Carica papaya, Similarly, this practice also favors the growth of arvenous species, which is why, in agronomic management programs, it is recommended to establish control methods that prioritize the elimination of arvenous species in the pre-sowing, post-sowing and during all phenological phases of the crop.

Within the activities of control of arvenous species, that usually are executed in the cultivation of Lechosa Carica papaya, those of greater effectiveness respond to the phases of growth, according to the following scheme; implementation of structures that serve as cover (plastic, or organic material), on the perimetral area of each seedling, this action is recommended to apply it during the first year of growth, development and production, and from this lapse, to make manual controls that avoid the competition of herbaceous species, being able to incorporate in an alternative way, synthetic or biological herbicides, in those conditions where occurs competition of semi-woody species.

Phytosanitary control

The conditions of excessive humidity, in which the specimens of Lechosa Carica papaya, develop, is the main cause of susceptibility, against attacks of pathogenic microorganisms, among which, those of greater productive affectation are found; the fungi Ascochytasp, Colletotrichum sp., Corynespora sp., Fusarium sp., Phythium sp., Phytophthora sp., and Rhizoctonia sp, and that by means of agro-ecological practices, are controlled applying bio-fungicides that contain active strains of Bacillus truringensus, now, regarding the attacks of defoliating insects, cutters and mites, plagues that cause the biggest havoc on the photosynthesis, the application of bio-inputs based on extracts of Nim Azadirachta indica, is the activity of management recommended mainly by its repellent effect.

Fertilization and productivity

Considering that the Lechosa Carica papaya, are characterized for exhibiting a prolonged productive rate, it is expected that the specimens demand considerable quantities of the macro-elements nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, in proportions that guarantee the optimal growth, development and reproduction of the specimens, according to estimates of [3], to achieve an adequate nutritional balance, about 90 grams of Nitrogen/year, 551 grams of P2O5 (Phosphorus)/year, and 70 grams of K2O (Potassium)/year should be added in a programmed way.

Agro-economic potential

Agronomic performance

According to the data, reported by the Statistics Division of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations - FAO-STAT, the yield per hectare of the Lechosa Carica papaya is above the 8 million tons, of fruit/hectare/year.

Fig. 4 Lechosa Fruits Carica papaya. Author: @lupafilotaxia.

Table. 1 Main producing countries of Carica papaya, according to [1]:

PRODUCTION (million ton/ha)

Nutritional potential

As it was indicated in the previous paragraphs, the fruits of Lechosa Carica papaya, are located between the three first positions of acceptance and commercial relevance, mainly by the economic yield that they generate, and on the other hand, for being sinks of vitamins, minerals, nutrients and digestive enzymes.

Table. 2 Nutritional composition of Lechosa fruit Carica papaya grains (Rice), according to [7]:

C. papaya fruits
Total fat (g)
Vitamin A (mg)


  • As the previous posts, of this thematic series: Utilitarian Botany, the manuscript serves as a means for the divulgation of scientific-technical elements, such as; botanical characteristics of the fruit species Carica papaya, emphasizing its morphological characters, domestication and phenological behavior related to its high productive rate. In relation to the contributions of agronomic cut, the socialized information increases the technical resources, for the production of hermaphrodite materials, establishment of plantations under the method of double row sowing, scheme of control of arvenous species by phases of growth, implementation of agroecological practices for the phytosanitary management and fertilization under programmed schemes.


[1] FAO-STAT. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. División de Estadística (FAOSTAT). Online access

[2] Sandoval C., Caetano C., Lagos T., y Chávez J. Palinología de Carica y Vasconcellea (Caricaceae). Acta Agronómica. Universidad Nacional de Colombia Palmira, Colombia. 2006;55;3:33-38. Article: Online access

[3] Jiménez J. Manual práctico para el cultivo de la Papaya Hawaiana. 1era edición. Editorial EARTH. CR. 2002;126. Article: Online access

[4] Cruz S. Producción de papaya (Carica papaya L.) en México estudio de caso: Estado, Chiapas. Universidad Autónoma Agraria. 2010;76. Article: Online access

[5] Campostrini E., and Glenn D. Ecophysiology of papaya: a review. Braz J Plant Physiol. 2007;19:413-424. Article: Online access

[6] Martínez E. Crecimiento, desarrollo y potencial productivo de la Papaya (Carica papaya L.), variedad Hawaiana en el Caribe Colombiano. Universidad Nacional de Colombia. 1998:72. Article: Online access

[7] Funiber. Fundación Universitaria Iberoamericana. Composición nutricional. Base de Datos Internacional de Composición de Alimentos. 2019. Online access


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Excellent post my friend @lupafilotaxia. Thanks for sharing it. Best regards.

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Greetings dear professor @lupafilotaxia, excellent morphoagronomic description made on the cultivation of Carica papaya, undoubtedly a fruit very much in demand worldwide, this publication is very useful for all lovers of agriculture. So long, my friend!