Pineapple research in the Zululand area is as old as the industry. The first pineapple research station was established in 1929 with a Mr. Johnson as research officer. The fate of this station is not known. Numerous requests by the Growers Association to the Department of Agricultural Technical Services for a permanent research site, lead to the allocation of 252 ha of state land in 1987. This is up till today the site of the present research station, which is a satellite station of the Institute for Tropical and Subtropical Crops (ITSC) at Nelspruit; the ITSC being an institute of the Agricultural Research Council. The official opening of the present research station was in 1988.

Research over the past 20 years covered a wide range of topics and nearly all aspects of Queen Pineapple cultivation were investigated. The following aspects were investigated:


       • Leaf norms and sampling techniques were established  
       • The effect of N, P, K, Mg, pH and Ca on yield and quality  
       • The effect of planting density and fertilizer requirements  
       • The effect of different fertilizer types as well as alternative 


       • The effect of plant spacing, planting density, mulching, irrigation,
       • Different types of planting material as well as the multiplication of 
         planting material. 

       Nematode control: 

       • Determining the efficacy of pre- and post plant chemical control   
          as well as biological control strategies. 
       • The effect of cultivation practices, pH and cover crops on         
          nematode populations 
       • The population dynamics of nematode species 

       Pests and Diseases 

       • Population studies of the different pineapples pests such as mealy 
          bug, pineapple flat mite and leathery pocket mite 
       • Chemical control of these pests 
       • Sampling methods 
       • Control of black spot disease as well as the effect of environmental 
          factors and possible vectors on the occurrence of the disease 

       Phenological disorders 

       • Studies were done on the occurrence of interfruitlet cracking and 
          winter speckle (winter blotching) 

       Growth regulators

       • The effect of fruit enlargers, flower inducing agents as well as the 
          inhibition of natural flowering were investigated 

       Post harvest

       • To increase the shelf life of the Queen pineapple was and is still a 
          priority. Several techniques and treatments were investigated.

Current research

Current research concentrates on:
• the factors influencing the occurrence of winter speckle
• black spot control
• nematodes control
• evaluating new cultivars
• factors causing mortality of pineapple plants
• fertilizer programs
• inhibition of natural flowering


Other funcions

A diagnostic service is also rendered to the farmers where the nematode and pest status of the plants are established. Analysis of leaf and soil samples is done by the laboratory at the ITSC in Nelspruit.

The pineapple farmers can also take part in a block competition every year. The aim of this competition is to create and evaluate new and innovative cultivation techniques.


Research on the station is done by:
• Ms Elmarie Rabie - Researcher and Officer in charge
• Ms Heila Tustin - Administration, farm management and
   research assistance
• Mr. Musa Mbatha – M.Sc Student
• 5 research/farm assistants.

Contact details

Postal address:
P.O.Box 194
Me Rabie 
Cell: 083 294 3345
Tel: 035 562 0352

Me Tustin
Tel: 035 562 0008
Fax: 035 562 0008