Manticao, Misamis Oriental---By our standards, the vastness of five thousand standing posts supporting varieties of dragon fruits was enough to warrant that the said commodity is seen as a lucrative business by the farm owner. On its previous cropping, the farm was teeming with vegetables such as ampalaya, eggplant, string beans, tomatoes, pechay, and okra.
Since eyeing the bright prospects of dragon fruit farming, the farming venture paid off as exemplified by Mahangub Highlands Farm in Manticao, Misamis Oriental owned by Elmer V. Sayre and his family.
Elmer has been into dragon fruit farming for two years now and is considered as the “Dragon Fruit King” in Misamis Oriental and a pioneer in planting the exotic crop in the said area.
How long does it take for a dragon fruit to flower? If the scaly fruit is cut open, the small black seeds scattered throughout its flesh can be sprouted easily and grown into a dragon fruit plant. Plants can begin flowering in as little as six to eight months, although container-grown plants may take up to two years to bear fruit. As per Elmer’s advice, it is best to propagate dragon fruits through its cuttings.
“Dragon fruit plants can grow from a cutting of a mature plant. Dragon fruit needs full sun, that’s why location and a sunny area is vital for the dragon fruits to get at least six to eight hours of sunlight a day”, Elmer said.
The ‘ber’ months usher the rainy season in the country, and with longer nights and shorter day period, Elmer attempts to experiment his farm through a photo period-regulated approach. Drawing information and inspiration from other dragon fruit experts abroad and how-to videos on YouTube, Elmer is going to use LED light-induced off-season floral stimulation in his dragon fruit farm at night. The photo period-regulated approach intends to stimulate the said crops for growth, blossoming indicators, and productivity.
In his farm, Elmer successfully propagated Moroccan Red, Vietnamese White, Yellow Isis, and Ecuadorian Palora (the latter bears small fruits much like guavas). He said that his favorite is the Moroccan Red since it does the heavy fruiting. Moroccan Red dragon fruit is also known for its Brix count, Brix is a measure of fruit sweetness. Degrees Brix, usually shortened to "Brix", also refers to a scale of measurement for soluble solids in a liquid.
The Sayre family’s farming business earns substantial income from selling freshly-harvested dragon fruits alone. In this year's harvest season, their 12-hectare dragon fruit farm yielded 600 kilos per harvest sold at 100 pesos per kilo. Customers and patrons can also get to avail and try their popular dragon fruit ice cream and dragon fruit wine.
To date, Elmer's bestselling dragon fruits are his Moroccan Red and Vietnamese White. His elegantly labelled dragon fruit wines are already making strong market demand among local patrons. I could not agree more as I enjoyed a helping of sweet Moroccan Red served before us with my colleagues Elton Daryl A. Lignes, Japheth G. Alvarez, and Anthonette June Russel who comprised the production team during a shoot for the 14th episode of our ‘AgriStoryahay sa ATI’ webinar series.
Mahangub Highlands Farm is also planted with other cash crops with around 50 tons of vermicast being used in the farm per year.
Also noteworthy is his successful propagation of the EVIARC jackfruit. Considered as the world's sweetest jackfruit, it was developed and planted first at the Eastern Visayas Integrated Agricultural Research Center (EVIARC) in Leyte, together with VSU scientists, as supported by the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCARRD).
In February 2018, Mahangub Highlands Farm became a Learning Site for Agriculture (LSA) by the Agricultural Training Institute-Regional Training Center 10 (ATI-RTC 10) based in El Salvador City.
As a partner farm site, the farm offers applicable agricultural technologies as well as employing doable farming strategies to walk-in clients. The farm is also anchored on the agriculture value chain and processing enterprise headed and supervised by the farm family. As a graduate of BS Agronomy at Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan in Cagayan de Oro City, there is no stopping Elmer who is now 61. As they say, “age is just a number”, and we are not too old or too young to try something we want to. (with reports and data provided by Training Specialist-II Moisa Niña D. Catiil-Paglinawan and Agriculturist Cristine A. Galupo)
Catch Mr. Elmer V. Sayre in action through his demos focusing on Dragon Fruit Production and Utilization via our 'AgriStoryahay sa ATI' webinar series (Season 2-Episode 14).
You can watch the video here: https://www.facebook.com/atinorthmin/videos/1192834557895210