Header Ads Widget

Responsive Advertisement

Chayote (Sayote) Cultivation Guide: All You Need to Know in Planting, Growing and Harvesting Chayote

Chayote (Sechium edule) is a perennial monoecious climber belonging to the Cucurbitaceae family. It thrives best in cool areas with elevations ranging from 1000 to 1,500 masl. The fruits come in various shapes from round to long elongated, and some are with ridges and spines. It is locally known as “sayote”, commercially grown in the Cordillera in swidden farms, and important in sustainable farming system.

The edible parts of chayote (Sechium edule) has lower fiber, protein and vitamin content than other plants. However, the calorie and carbohydrate content is high, chiefly from the young shoots, tubers and seed, while micro and macro nutrients supplied by the fruit are adequate. The fruit, particularly
the seeds are rich in amino acids such as aspartic acid, glutamic, phenylalamine, glycine, histidine, isoleucine and methionine (for the fruit) and protein, serine, lyrosine, thromine and valine from the seeds.

Chayote is grown mainly for its fruits and shoots. The fruit has a very important role as
food supply in the regional and national levels especially during calamities. Likewise, fruits can
be processed into wines, pies, kimchi, pickles and candies in the locality but in a backyard scale.

The vines can also be manufactured into bags and hats for its flexibility and strength (Bermejo
and Leon, 1994)

Medicinal Value

  • Infusions of the chayote leaves are used to dissolve kidney stones and assists in the treatment of arteriosclerosis and hypertension.
  • Infusions of the fruit are used to alleviate urine retention.

Economic Importance

Growing chayote is a profitable venture since chayote production does not require intensive application of pesticides as compared to other vegetable crops of which the pesticide requirement is almost 40% of the total inputs.

  • The only bulk of investment is the initial inputs during the first year of operation like clearing, hill/mound preparation, posts and hauling, posts setting, wire and wiring, seeds, chicken manure at the rate of 4 tons, 6 sacks 14-14-14 and 4 sacks 21-0-0 per hectare respectively.
  • An average of PhP 4.00 to 5.00 selling price per kilo can still earn a return of investment (ROI) of 45% in the first year of production based on the average weight of 2.3 tons per harvest per hectare.
  • This is increased to 65% on the 2nd and 3rd year of production with the same average selling price on the first year with an average weight of 3.0 tons per harvest per hectare.
  • The average number of harvest per year is forty times. This is possible if all the necessary cultural requirement like crop protection, irrigation, fertilizer replenishment, leaf thinning, vine training and replacement of weak trellis posts are maintained.

Chayote Varieties

 The different strains of chayote can be determined in fruit shape, presence and density of spines, and texture of the skin. Fruit shapes are globular, globular to flat, elongated and long elongated with small, medium or large sizes. Fruits either have no spines, sparse, medium or dense. Likewise, fruits may have smooth or rough skin, and with or without ridges.

  • BPI Ch1- fruits are big, elongated with intermediate furrows, dense spines at the entire fruit and with rough skin.
  • BPI Ch2- fruits are medium, globular, little bit flat with intermediate furrows and sparse spines at the apex and bottom, and with rough skin.
  • BPI Ch3- fruits are medium, globular, little bit flat with shallow furrows, sparse spines at the apex and bottom with smooth skin.
  • BPI Ch4- big fruits, elongated to long-elongated with shallow furrows, none to sparse spines at the bottom with smooth skin.
  • BPI Ch5- medium fruits, elongated with shallow furrows, sparse spines at the apex and bottom with rough skin.
  • BPI Ch6- medium fruits, globular, little bit flat with shallow furrows but dense spines at the entire fruit and with rough skin.
  • BPI Ch7- fruits are medium, elongated with shallow furrows, no spines with smooth skin.
  • BPI Ch8- medium fruits, globular to elongated with intermediate furrows, sparse spines at the apex and bottom with rough skin.
  • BPI Ch9- small fruits, elongated with intermediate furrows, sparse spines at the entire fruit and with rough skin.
  • BPI Ch10- small fruits, elongated with intermediate furrows, none to sparse spines at the apex and bottom with smooth skin.
  • BPI Ch 11- this strain is the latest introduction from Australia. It has medium fruits, globular with shallow furrows but dense and firm spines at the entire fruit, and with dark green and rough skin.

Note: The spiny, light green and irregularly colored fruits are less preferred in the local and national market.

PROPAGATION

Selection of planting materials

The main source of planting materials are the fruits and pre-rooted vines preferably from 1 to 2 year old healthy plants.

Basis for selecting planting materials:

  • High yielding varieties with green fruit color
  • Non-spiny
  • Short internode vines
  • Not sensitive to photoperiods
  • Can adapt to temperatures ranging from 16°C to 25 °C and in areas with marginal soil fertility.

Seed Preparation and storage

Good seed material for planting are fruits that are fully matured as indicated by its hard peel which can resist bruising during harvesting to storing. The matured fruits have faster establishment, less rotting after planting and the plants have longer life span. As observed, immature fruits when planted have only 2 to 3 years with good yield.

For storage practice:

  • The fruits must be air-dried 2 to 3 days before storing.
  • The fruits must be stock piled 3 to 4 layers in a horizontal position in the storeroom so that when the sprouts grow 10 to 15 days from storing, they will be exposed to the diffused or indirect light.
  • The method will enhance the hardening of the tender sprouts to minimize desprouting during hauling and planting.
  • The storeroom should have mild relative humidity (80 to 85%), ample ventilation and openings for the diffuse light entrance.
  • Protect the seeds against rodents and other insects that feed on the young sprouts by setting traps and rodenticides in the storeroom during the storage duration.


Soil and Climatic Adaptation

  1. Climatic Requirement.
    Chayote plants are sensitive to wind damage during strong typhoons. Production should be located in areas that are not frequented by strong winds especially during typhoon months.

    Temperature ranging from10 to 25 C enhances foliage and fruit development and longer growing period for 5 to 8 years due to delayed virus disease symptoms. Further, the crop is best grown at elevations of 800 to 2,200 meters above sea level and above to obtain good quality fruits. Temperatures range from 16 to 25 degree celsius promote longer internodes, thus lesser nodes where fruits arise.

    Chayote is a warm season crop and a good bloom is enhanced by short day. It could be grown in temperate climates by artificially controlling day length.

    After 6 to 8 weeks of growth, the vine can be shaded with dark cloth on a frame to keep sunlight to 8 hours each day for the next 4 to 6 weeks. The frame could be moved to shade the vines at about 4:00 pm and removed after sunrise at about 8:00 am the following day.

    From previous observations, chayote production from sunny side areas yield more fruits per vine than those grown in lee side areas. This lower yield noted from the lee side areas was considered as the effect of the lower temperature and lesser hours of sunlight intensity in the area.

    Chayote is a warm season crop that if grown in less favorable condition, it will have luxuriant vine growth but reduced fruit production.

  2. Soil Requirement.
    The crop requires clay loam, silty clay loam or loam soil with pH ranging from 5.5 to 6.5. Soil should be well drained and supplied with organic fertilizer to have good moisture holding capacity since the crop cannot withstand drought.

CULTURAL MANAGEMENT PRACTICES

Land Preparation

Clear the area and prepare very shallow holes about 1 square foot wide with a distance of 3 meters between hills and rows. Apply organic fertilizer then mix with the soil. Plant 3 fruit seeds (sprouted or not) per hill leaving 1/3 of the seeds exposed. Planting is usually done towards the rainy season especially when water is a problem to ensure plant growth.

Clearing

  • Clearing should be done by cutting first the weeds close to the ground then chop to reduce their length to facilitate piling during composting.
  • If there are trees, do not cut all specially those standing around edges and at the center of the proposed production area to serve as live posts.
  • Prune the selected trees that will serve as live posts to remove the top part and retain a height of 10 to 12 feet above the ground, retaining at least 2 to 3 healthy branches to support the life of the live tree-post.
  • Pruning is necessary to reduce the height of the live tree-post so that chayote vines will not trail too high making it difficult to harvest, minimize shading, nutrient competition, and to prevent the anchored wire trellis from disaligning or cutting when there is a strong wind that will swing this live posts.
  • If there are trees not needed for live posts, cut all top parts leaving 6 to 7 feet stumps to be used as a ready set posts for anchoring the primary kniffin wire trellis.

Hill Preparation on slopping areas

  • On slopping areas, hill preparation is done by spot digging on every plantable portion of the area to remove weed rootstocks, stones and to form terraces. Each terrace should have a measurement of at least 30 cm. deep, 75 cm. wide and 5 meters apart between hills and rows.
  • After digging, apply chicken manure at the rate of 3 to 4 kg. per hill or 4 to 5 tons per hectare as basal fertilizer. Other organic materials, such as alnus compost and hog manure can be added, provided they are well decomposed.

Level areas

  • For level areas, prepare mounds with a height of 30 to 60 cm. high and 90 cm. wide and 3 meters apart between mounds. It is basically applied with chicken manure at the same rate with the hill method in slope areas. The mound preparation is necessary in level areas to avoid flooding during typhoons especially if the area has a poor drainage system.


Planting

  • Planting can be done anytime of the year. However, planting five days after the basal application of animal manure and one week before the onset of the rainy season have faster and better crop establishment.
  • Observe proper drainage in the case of level areas.
  • If planting is done during summer, regularly irrigate throughout the summer season for better establishment and growth of the crops.
  • A hectare requires 1.5 to 2 tons seeds if the planting rate is 3 to 4 seeds per hill. Plant 3 to 4 pre-sprouted and non-shrivelled seeds per hill at 6 inches apart between seeds.
  • Position the seeds with the anterior end sloping upward then cover the seeds partially with light soil about half of an inch to protect from abrupt drying especially if planting is done during summer.
  • If planting is done during the wet season, the seeds are just laid diagonally on each hill burying 35% of the seed to minimize rotting prior to establishment.

Trellising

Post requirement
There are three (3) types of posts to be erected; the main posts, the primary and the secondary posts.

  • The main posts will be erected first with a minimum distance of 40 x 40 meters between posts properly aligned.
  • Next to be erected between the main posts are the secondary posts with a distance of 20 x 20 meters.
  • The last to be erected are the primary posts with a distance of 10 x 10 meters in between the secondary posts.

Hardware requirement 

  • Main posts – 80 to 100 pieces with 8’ diameter and 8’ long
  • Secondary posts – 80 to 100 pieces with 6’ diameter and 8’ long
  • Primary posts – 100 to 150 pieces with 4’ diameter and 7’ long
  • Main line – 5 rolls (200 kilos) of #6 G.I. wire
  • Secondary line – 5 rolls (200 kilos) of #8 G.I. wire
  • Primary line – 6 rolls (240 kilos) of #10 G.I. wire
  • Weave line wire – 6 rolls (240 kilos) of #14 G.I. wire
  • 18 kilos 6” common nails 12 kilos 5” common nails 6 kilos 4” common nails
  • Other materials needed:
    12 pcs. long bolo, 4 sharp ax, 10 grub hoes #3 (preferably Crocodile brand), 8 pcs. 3-pronged Japanese hoe, 7 pcs. claw hammer, 6 pcs. heavy duty electrical pliers, 4 pcs. 6’ long claw bar, 4 pcs. hole digger.

Wiring

When all the main posts are properly set up and aligned, lay out the galvanized iron wire (G.I. wire) to be used as kniffin trellis simultaneously with proper anchoring, stretching, and criss-crossing in every intersections across the same area.

You will need 5 rolls (200 kilos) of #6 G.I. wire as main wire, 5 rolls (200 kilos) or #8 G.I. wire as the secondary wire, 6 rolls (240 kilos) of #10 G.I. wire as primary wire and 6 rolls (240 kilos) of #14 G.I. wire as weave line wire.

This will secure the trellis from sagging when the chayote plants become heavy during full canopy and at fruit bearing stage.

First to be laid out is the #6 G.I. wire which will be anchored to all the main posts. Lay out the wire vertically and horizontally criss-crossing the entire area to serve as main line.

The #8, #10 and #14 wires are set alternately by anchoring on the main line wire set in the vertical to horizontal directions which will form the 20 x 20 m, 10 x 10 m and 5 x 5 meters distance in between primary and secondary posts.

Weave the #14 wire several times by criss-crossing on the #6, #8 and #10 wires until a 2 x 2 feet square of the wire trellis is formed so that young chayote vines could trail easily. If the trellis is more than 2 feet square, most vines hanging under will result in lower yield.

Labor requirement

A hectare requires at least 8 to 10 male laborers to do the clearing, composting, digging, fertilizer application, planting, posts setting and wiring for 35 to 40 days.

After the initial operation, 3 to 4 male laborers are retained to regularly do the maintenance, harvesting, packaging and hauling from the production area to the farm road. Each laborer will be paid depending on the labor cost prevailing in the area.

CROP MAINTENANCE

Irrigation and drainage

  • Irrigate weekly as soon as the top soil moisture decreases.
  • The best method of supplying the water is through
  • The rainburst sprinklers. This method is the best because the water discharge is sprinkled gradually so that the young leaves and flowers will not be stressed.
  • The rainburst should be set above the plants 3 to 4 hours during irrigation in order to moisten the soil properly.
  • Observe proper drainage strictly on level plantation during the rainy season since chayote plants are sensitive to flooding since the plants wilt and eventually die in just 2 to 3 days of continuous flooding.

Vine Training

  • Three weeks to one month after planting pre-sprouted chayote seeds, the vines are ready to trail. During this stage, 2 to 3 stakes should be erected on every hill to support and guide the young vines reach their wire trellis.
  • When the vines finally reach the wire trellis, train the vines to follow the upward direction of the slope. This enhances more fruit per vine as observed by most growers.
  • Chayote vines directed to follow the upward direction of the slope bear 5 to 7 well developed fruits per vine compared to 2 to 3 fruits per vine to those following the downward direction on the slope. This higher yield obtained from chayote vines that trail upward maybe attributed to the crop’s nature. On the level areas, it was noted that the vine can trail any direction and the yield is not affected.

Fertilizer supplements

Apply organic fertilizer either chicken manure or compost before or at planting time (basal fertilization) and during side dressing every 2 months at the rate of 3 to 5 tons/ha or 300 to 500 grams/hill. Triple 14 or triple 16 at 50 g/hill or 2 sacks/ha can be applied alternately with organic fertilizer as side dress to promote growth and development of the crop. During side dressing, soil is raised to cover and support the base of the plant as well as the applied fertilizer.

  • Two to three months after planting, side dress the crop with 14-14-14 and chicken manure at the rate of 5 to 6 and 70 to 80 sacks per hectare respectively, throughout the growing season to maximize yield.
  • Any local organic fertilizer can be used as substitute if chicken manure is not available.
  • When plants reach 2 to 3 years, non-functional mat roots are concentrated on the area where fertilizer applications were done and this hampers the spread of new roots to absorb side dress fertilizers. Remove this before the application of the supplemental fertilizers.

Weeding

Weeds are removed in order not to compete with the absorption of nutrients and sunlight. Likewise, they attract rodents that would damage the crop and serve as alternate hosts of some insect pests and diseases.

  • Weeding should be done throughout during the first year of operation since chayote plants are not in full canopy to compete with the weeds under them.
  • On the second year of the plantation onward, weeding intensity could be lesser because the chayote plants have already developed full canopy to suppress the weeds.
  • Non-selective herbicide can be used with extra caution because the young stem of the chayote with green pigment absorbs the chemical. Spraying the herbicide should be done during non-windy time to prevent spray drift.
  • The cut or uprooted weeds may be well dried and used to mulch the soil around the chayote plants to minimize weed growth, moisture loss during summer, leaching of applied fertilizer during the rainy season and at the same time augment the organic fertilizer requirement of the crop.

Irrigation

Irrigation is carried out either through water hose, sprinklers, watering cans or their combinations, once a week.

Mulching

Fresh, dried or decomposing weeds are used as mulch to conserve moisture and serve as organic fertilizers when decomposed.

Deleafing

Remove dried and old leaves every 3 months to give way to young and active leaves for light reception and food production. Remove plants which are severely infected with virus disease.

Crop Protection

 Spraying of pesticides is not necessary, however, severe pruning leaving 1 foot vine from the base or changing the plants is recommended when there is severe virus disease.

Insects, diseases and their control

  • The chayote Tymo Virus spread by insect vectors are among the serious chayote disease faced by many growers with no known effective control.
  • Minimize the spread of the virus with the use of clean planting materials, proper sanitation to remove host plants, controlling insect vectors and proper nutrition like the continuous application of organic fertilizer especially alnus compost.
  • The alnus compost was proven by some farmers during the disease epidemic that their chayote grown with old alnus trees were spared due to the antibiotic properties of the alnus compost.
  • Control the rodents of different breeds and cloud rats which feed on the newly planted seeds, young stems and fruits by putting traps and poison baits. Regular weeding is a must to clear their hiding places.
  • Snails which are rampant during rainy season can be controlled by leaf thinning because they stay and feed on the crowded leaves and make the fruits untidy due to the stain of their saliva and feces.
  • Nematodes (like roundworms) also damage the roots. The application of nematicides in the soil before planting as well as planting clean seeds are among the remedies.
  • It is necessary to thin out old leaves and non-productive vines to minimize shading. As old leaves rot, it causes black stain on fruits making it non-marketable.
  • The productive life cycle of the plant is three to five years or, in exceptional cases, eight years. This is, if crop maintenance is strictly followed.

Harvesting

  • Harvesting starts 3 to 4 months in areas with average temperature of 20 to 25 degrees Celsius and 4 to 6 months from planting with average temperature of 15 to 16 degrees Celsius and if the seeds used were fully matured and pre-sprouted with 1 to 2 inches hardened sprout.
  • The fruits are ready to be harvested 30 days from fruit set if the skin is smooth and firm when hand pressed. It is immature if the fruit is tender and sticky at hand grasp.
  • The interval of harvesting is from 5 to 7 days after every harvest provided the plantation is well maintained. For the chayote tubers, harvesting is done one year after planting.


Post Harvest Handling and Marketing

  • The shelf life of the chayote fruit after harvest is dependent on the right maturity of fruits harvested.
  • Care during harvesting like the use of proper containers during harvesting and hauling from the farm to the market is necessary.
  • Include the fruit petiole at harvest to retain freshness.
  • Newly harvested fruits are first stored in a cool dry storeroom for 1 to 2 days before packaging to harden the fruit skin in order to resist bruising during packing and transport.
  • The best packaging practice done to prolong shelf-life of chayote fruits for vegetable is by individually wrapping the fruits with paper before packing in the different kinds of containers like plastic bags with 25 kilos capacities, wooden and plastic trays.


Post a Comment

1 Comments

mulch india said…
Great post! I am actually getting ready to across this information, It’s very helpful for this blog.
Mulch India