Jackfruit cultivation has been gaining ground in the Yucatán peninsula in recent years along with demand for the product, which both producers and consumers alike expect will boom.
Jackfruit trees (Artocarpus heterophyllus) are known as yacas in Campeche and Yucatán, states where the fruit has been successfully harvested in recent years. Native to south India, the tree is well suited to tropical lowlands and its fruit is the largest tree-borne fruit, weighing as much as 35 kilograms.
Harvests in the Yucatán peninsula have yet to reach those levels. But with fruit that weighs between three and five kilograms, and sometimes up to eight, jackfruits have proven popular among local consumers.
The bright yellow color of the fruit, and its sheer size, attract people in markets and tianguis for a closer look. Many say the honey-like taste of the fruit is unlike anything they’ve tasted before, although some describe it as a mix of pineapple and orange.
The ever-increasing popularity of the fruit has made it a popular ingredient for fruit shakes and fresh water drinks in Campeche and Yucatán.
Jackfruit trees have to grow and mature for two or three years before they start producing. By then, the trees are between three and four meters high, presenting a challenge for producers.
Ignacio Villarreal Moreno is a seasoned grower of citrus fruits like tangerines, lemons and oranges. He is also one of the estimated 30 growers of jackfruit in the region. One of his farm laborers told the newspaper El Universal that jackfruit trees grow lots of flowers and that they have to constantly trim them.
“The fruits grow in twos and threes, and if you don’t care for the tree properly they drop to the ground and can’t be used,” said Arcadio Cetina.
Cetina’s well-tended trees were healthy and full of still-developing fruits, reported El Universal. The jackfruits are expected to be ready to be harvested come October and November.
Villarreal’s plantation dates back to 2013, but it was not until last fall that he was able to pick the first harvest. As the trees mature, their yield is expected to increase to a maximum of 60 to 100 jackfruits each.
The fruit’s popularity has also surged after local herbalists started using it, claiming that its consumption helps people suffering from diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels.
Source: El Universal (sp)