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Author Topic: Growing Dragonfruit commercially on PVC coated fencing--Why/why not?  (Read 1727 times)

Standardbloke

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I have a fairly hefty, large-sized red dragonfruit plant growing along a length of chain link fence. It's just Galvanized poles and chain mesh. Not even a top bar. And this plant produces very good crops, and seems to not mind the lack of anything wooden to send epiphytic roots onto at all. The plant largely supports itself, and lengths that become slightly restricted owing to the limited size of the mesh holes don't seem affected by this either, and produce as well as those that aren't constricted. I suppose even if this did prove and issue you could probably get mesh with larger hole sizes.

I'm wondering if there's a reason we don't see this done commercially. From where I stand,  farming them this way seems to make the most sense. It's relatively expensive to set up, is strong, durable, and most importantly would maximize surface area for bigger crops and light exposure. The real advantage would be to taking advantage of vertical space, which most 'umbrella' type trellises don't.

Is there something I'm missing here?

I don't see any downsides, and  in my experience...there kind of doesn't seem to be any.
« Last Edit: November 25, 2019, 01:47:11 AM by Standardbloke »

spaugh

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Re: Growing Dragonfruit commercially on PVC coated fencing--Why/why not?
« Reply #1 on: November 25, 2019, 01:21:58 AM »
Theres lots of commercial DF farms growing in rows like a vineyard.  Look up gray martin on youtube to see how his DF farm here in california is setup.  Theres also farms in asia using similar supports. 
Brad Spaugh

Standardbloke

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Re: Growing Dragonfruit commercially on PVC coated fencing--Why/why not?
« Reply #2 on: November 25, 2019, 01:28:53 AM »
Theres lots of commercial DF farms growing in rows like a vineyard.  Look up gray martin on youtube to see how his DF farm here in california is setup.  Theres also farms in asia using similar supports.

I have seen this, yes. But I'm yet to see anyone actually utilizing chain mesh...and I kind of don't get why.
I mean what is the essential, meaningful difference between the below method and just plain old run-of-the-mil mesh fencing? It just seems like over-engineering for a less efficient and stable outcome, to me.






knlim000

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Re: Growing Dragonfruit commercially on PVC coated fencing--Why/why not?
« Reply #3 on: November 25, 2019, 01:38:25 AM »
I trained mine to go on arbor instead. Save money on shade clothes.   Right now, they are reach the top corner of each abor.   Can't wait to see all the blooms covering the entire arbor in the next few year.

Standardbloke

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Re: Growing Dragonfruit commercially on PVC coated fencing--Why/why not?
« Reply #4 on: November 25, 2019, 01:49:11 AM »
I trained mine to go on arbor instead. Save money on shade clothes.   Right now, they are reach the top corner of each abor.   Can't wait to see all the blooms covering the entire arbor in the next few year.

Yeah that will look beautiful, eventually. Have to post pictures one day!

spaugh

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Re: Growing Dragonfruit commercially on PVC coated fencing--Why/why not?
« Reply #5 on: November 25, 2019, 01:51:11 AM »
You can use mesh fencing but its going to be more of a mess to keep pruned neatly.  I think the idea with all of the commercial supports is to get the plant to drape over the top and hang down.  With fencing dont you end up with the top vines hanging over the bottom vines and making a mess?

Do you have photos of yours?
Brad Spaugh

Standardbloke

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Re: Growing Dragonfruit commercially on PVC coated fencing--Why/why not?
« Reply #6 on: November 25, 2019, 01:58:18 AM »
You can use mesh fencing but its going to be more of a mess to keep pruned neatly.  I think the idea with all of the commercial supports is to get the plant to drape over the top and hang down.  With fencing dont you end up with the top vines hanging over the bottom vines and making a mess?

Do you have photos of yours?

Well, there's a very simple solution to that problem; simply build the fence to such a height that it can accommodate pruning of the lop growth to allow light penetration to the lower growth. By that I mean tip the top lengths shorter than the lower lengths. Dragonfruit needs to be tipped every year to encourage more budding regardless....so really, it's a zero sum game. I've not done this with mine because it's kind of just a neglected plant I stuck there to cover an otherwise unusable area, and the fence is probably too short for thbis anyway...but I'd wager 9ft height from the ground to the top would be enough.

spaugh

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Re: Growing Dragonfruit commercially on PVC coated fencing--Why/why not?
« Reply #7 on: November 25, 2019, 02:06:43 AM »
By the way, the picture you posted is at the UC garden I believe.  Its not the same support system that gray martin uses.  I agree the one pictured is over engineered and not such a great way to go.
Brad Spaugh

spaugh

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Standardbloke

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Re: Growing Dragonfruit commercially on PVC coated fencing--Why/why not?
« Reply #9 on: November 25, 2019, 02:18:50 AM »
Look at the support at 1:45

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3u3E2xKzVb0&feature=youtu.be

That's essentially the same deal, really....I dunno, I don't see the advantage. Let's say you grew them on a chain link fence at a height of 9FT. That would literally double the growing surface area of the kind of trellises displayed in that video, because it would be making use of vertical space.It would also reduce shading-out of lower growth, something which those trellises don't seem to be capable of doing, because they are too short to effectively allow for the staggered pruning method I described earlier. I also feel that rather than make the plants more difficult to control, it would make them easier to control, because a chain link fence has support points at virtually every area, whereas those trellis are basically just a wire fence with three support stages.

The more I think about it, the more bananas it seems not to do it. I think I'm gonna have a crack at trying this. I'll be sure to post results down the track.

NateTheGreat

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Re: Growing Dragonfruit commercially on PVC coated fencing--Why/why not?
« Reply #10 on: November 25, 2019, 01:36:49 PM »
A chain link fence would probably be significantly weaker, and likely more expensive. Plus I suspect dragonfruit fruit better on branches that are hanging below horizontal rather than climbing. And at 9 feet the harvesting might become difficult.

pineislander

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Re: Growing Dragonfruit commercially on PVC coated fencing--Why/why not?
« Reply #11 on: November 25, 2019, 02:12:46 PM »
I see no need for fencing what you need is strong vertical support for heavy plants. Chain link fencing doesn't hold anything up it must be held by horizontal piping.
In Taiwan they have gone to trellis in a linear form. The plants are spaced closer along the row than post culture but probably need more pruning work, maybe between every crop cycle where you might get several crops on a post culture before hard pruning. Post culture gives you four plants/post, so 680 posts/acre x 4=2720 plants/acre . Linear trellis gives you four plants every 8 feet or so along a row, so do the math to figure how many plants per area.

What really matters is support for the heavy weight especially if you have strong santa ana wind/typhoon/hurricane to worry about. Posts are pretty resistant but some of Gray Davis' trellises collapsed which looks like a nightmare needing to start over.
Taiwan:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QT6NPpVq8bM

Standardbloke

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Re: Growing Dragonfruit commercially on PVC coated fencing--Why/why not?
« Reply #12 on: November 25, 2019, 04:39:52 PM »
I see no need for fencing what you need is strong vertical support for heavy plants. Chain link fencing doesn't hold anything up it must be held by horizontal piping.
In Taiwan they have gone to trellis in a linear form. The plants are spaced closer along the row than post culture but probably need more pruning work, maybe between every crop cycle where you might get several crops on a post culture before hard pruning. Post culture gives you four plants/post, so 680 posts/acre x 4=2720 plants/acre . Linear trellis gives you four plants every 8 feet or so along a row, so do the math to figure how many plants per area.

What really matters is support for the heavy weight especially if you have strong santa ana wind/typhoon/hurricane to worry about. Posts are pretty resistant but some of Gray Davis' trellises collapsed which looks like a nightmare needing to start over.
Taiwan:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QT6NPpVq8bM

Interesting. Is there an advantage to planting more cuttings on a single post as opposed to letting one single plant fill more of an area?This is something I've often wondered about; does more plants= a bigger yield than  less, or even a single plant allowed to take up more room?

I'd be using galvanized tube in the above described scenario. Maybe connectors to make a 'T shape' at either end of the row,  and cable could be run between these, covered in conduit to stop the metal heating and burning the plants, to serve as a top area support. They do kind of support themselves however. But yes I do take your meaning...wind force is a serious concern, especially the more vertical you go. I'd have to anchor the whole thing with tubing at intervals at a dept of at least 3FT.

Currently I use hardwood posts and rebar grib on top of it.
« Last Edit: November 25, 2019, 05:00:05 PM by Standardbloke »

spaugh

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Re: Growing Dragonfruit commercially on PVC coated fencing--Why/why not?
« Reply #13 on: November 25, 2019, 04:55:45 PM »
More rootstocks.  Plus if one plant is sick it can be removed and the others can take over.  Also is much faster for 4 plants to become mature size and fill in a support than it is for a single plant to create the same biomass.
Brad Spaugh

Finca La Isla

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Re: Growing Dragonfruit commercially on PVC coated fencing--Why/why not?
« Reply #14 on: November 25, 2019, 04:58:13 PM »
What I have seen that is very economical and functional are concrete posts.  Iíve seen this in CR and Mexico and I think Iíve seen the same in photos from Israel.  A field of cement posts at about 2m spacing.  The plants grow up and hang down off the posts.  Thereís no horizontal structure.
Peter

spaugh

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Re: Growing Dragonfruit commercially on PVC coated fencing--Why/why not?
« Reply #15 on: November 25, 2019, 05:01:13 PM »
What I have seen that is very economical and functional are concrete posts.  Iíve seen this in CR and Mexico and I think Iíve seen the same in photos from Israel.  A field of cement posts at about 2m spacing.  The plants grow up and hang down off the posts.  Thereís no horizontal structure.
Peter

I agree concrete posts are an excellent solution.  They are cheap if you have the manufacturing down and will last forever. 

Im leaning towards concrete posts for future supports even though I already have lots of cattle panels and fencing material that could be used. 
Brad Spaugh

Standardbloke

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Re: Growing Dragonfruit commercially on PVC coated fencing--Why/why not?
« Reply #16 on: November 25, 2019, 06:21:07 PM »
What I have seen that is very economical and functional are concrete posts.  Iíve seen this in CR and Mexico and I think Iíve seen the same in photos from Israel.  A field of cement posts at about 2m spacing.  The plants grow up and hang down off the posts.  Thereís no horizontal structure.
Peter

I agree concrete posts are an excellent solution.  They are cheap if you have the manufacturing down and will last forever. 

I have considered this. However, I think cement and the other requisite materials are considerably more inexpensive in the states and elsewhere than in Australia. The numbers aren't there for me...it's actually cheaper for me to buy a hardwood post and give it a few coats of 2 part epoxy resin than to make a concrete post. It's a bit of a bummer because otherwise I'd definitely be doing it, I have seen them grown in stacked tires before but this doesn't make sense to me, because you'd have no access at the base of the plants to apply fertilizers etc.

Im leaning towards concrete posts for future supports even though I already have lots of cattle panels and fencing material that could be used.

pineislander

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Re: Growing Dragonfruit commercially on PVC coated fencing--Why/why not?
« Reply #17 on: November 25, 2019, 10:21:19 PM »
I cast concrete posts and tops then put 4 cuttings on each. Using the posts gave me plenty of room underneath for pineapples, I've even grown lettuce a few times there. If I had used a trellis there wouldn't be room underneath.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V1bAZqhqw2U

More recent:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y20U4UJFV-U

Ulfr

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Re: Growing Dragonfruit commercially on PVC coated fencing--Why/why not?
« Reply #18 on: November 25, 2019, 10:37:30 PM »
My concrete posts


And tops (pvc with concrete in top half supporting frame)


Standardbloke

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Re: Growing Dragonfruit commercially on PVC coated fencing--Why/why not?
« Reply #19 on: November 25, 2019, 10:57:11 PM »
My concrete posts


And tops (pvc with concrete in top half supporting frame)


Those look great. I'm assuming you use stormwater pipe to cast them...but how does this work, and how do you get the post out once it has set?Or do you just cast each hemisphere them join them together, somehow?
« Last Edit: November 25, 2019, 11:03:56 PM by Standardbloke »

spaugh

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Re: Growing Dragonfruit commercially on PVC coated fencing--Why/why not?
« Reply #20 on: November 25, 2019, 11:48:12 PM »
These are the best vertical supports I've seen so far.  Wish I could purchase those forms in the US.  Their rebar on the top supports looks to be mass produced also.  It's not so easy to reproduce for the home gardener.  But I will probably try.  My neighbors and I are pretty handy, we will try and copy them.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L7REsQWNG9U&t=20s&app=desktop
Brad Spaugh

Standardbloke

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Re: Growing Dragonfruit commercially on PVC coated fencing--Why/why not?
« Reply #21 on: November 26, 2019, 12:06:28 AM »
These are the best vertical supports I've seen so far.  Wish I could purchase those forms in the US.  Their rebar on the top supports looks to be mass produced also.  It's not so easy to reproduce for the home gardener.  But I will probably try.  My neighbors and I are pretty handy, we will try and copy them.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L7REsQWNG9U&t=20s&app=desktop

Yes those are quite good. The actual post would not be difficult to cast but the crown would be trickier. That said, I'm fairly confident you could approximate it making a mould from ply. It would obviously need to be hexagonal and not circular, but it wouldn't bee to difficult to knock up. Probably worth just getting a laser cutting place to make a kit, really...then you could simply glue it together, epoxy it, and use it to cast as many as you liked pretty much indefinitely.

spaugh

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Re: Growing Dragonfruit commercially on PVC coated fencing--Why/why not?
« Reply #22 on: November 26, 2019, 12:33:09 AM »
I will probably make wood forms and square tops and weld up the rebars.  My neighbor has a wood shop and I have the concrete and mixer and welder.  We can get crushed recycled concrete for 20$ per ton and Portland cement for 9$ for 90lbs.  Mix 5:1 and it's cheaper than bagged stuff from the store.

I think if absolute production per acre is what your goal is, a linear support like fencing or grape trellis most likely wins.  But if you look at a farm that's been done that way after many years it becomes a big mess.
Brad Spaugh

Ulfr

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Re: Growing Dragonfruit commercially on PVC coated fencing--Why/why not?
« Reply #23 on: November 26, 2019, 02:07:09 AM »

Those look great. I'm assuming you use stormwater pipe to cast them...but how does this work, and how do you get the post out once it has set?Or do you just cast each hemisphere them join them together, somehow?

Yeah 150mm pipe cut lengthways and hoseclamped/taped together during casting. They are way overkill. I made a video but it sucks, I am getting better at that haha.
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=3GNTeLxD8rg

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=rO9NELjNBuc



« Last Edit: November 26, 2019, 02:13:43 AM by Ulfr »

Standardbloke

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Re: Growing Dragonfruit commercially on PVC coated fencing--Why/why not?
« Reply #24 on: November 26, 2019, 02:30:08 AM »

Those look great. I'm assuming you use stormwater pipe to cast them...but how does this work, and how do you get the post out once it has set?Or do you just cast each hemisphere them join them together, somehow?

Yeah 150mm pipe cut lengthways and hoseclamped/taped together during casting. They are way overkill. I made a video but it sucks, I am getting better at that haha.
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=3GNTeLxD8rg

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=rO9NELjNBuc


Nothing wrong with those videos mate, I think they're pretty good. It's a good idea, I'd wager they way a tonne each. How in the name of Jesus tapdancing Christ did you cut the storm pipe straight? Did you do it on a bandsaw?

 

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