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Old 05-05-2012, 08:27 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Fruiting Cactus, spineless for Florida

A few years ago I planted a prickly pear that was given to me and it has grown and this year is finally fruiting. While sensitive to extreme cold it has grown well with little to no care on my part. I have planted some of the stems and they root and grow also. So I see that cactus is viable plant for area.

Question what are the best fruiting varieties for Zone 8B for Florida with about 60 inches of annual rain fall? Spineless would be preferred. I plan also to eat the stems. I am one of these people if it does not fruit I do not have too much interest in it so I have little interest in the ornamental varieties.
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Old 05-05-2012, 02:16 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Fruiting Cactus, spineless for Florida

I've been ferreting out edible species and cultivars of (Nopales) for the last decade. The traditional native and Mexican cultures shun the spineless varieties because they have a bland flavor. I agree.

Steven Facciola's Cornucopia II lists about two dozen species beginning on the bottom of page 64 with Nopalea cochenillifera. The juice extracted from this plant is used to flavor Snapple soft drinks, and the fruits are eaten fresh or made into candy. There are a half-dozen other species that have high culinary value, and some of these have named cultivars. For fresh fruits, the species Opuntia tuna (common name: Panini) is hard to beat. Others with high quality fruit and pads are Opuntia ficus-indica and Opuntia streptacantha. It turns out that several of plants listed by Facciola as separate species (e.g., O. megacantha) have been determined by genetic testing to be variants of O. ficus-indica.

So if the biologists have trouble telling them apart visually, you can imagine the confusion among plant sellers. An honest plant seller will just list them as "Nopales", "Prickly Pear", or "Opuntia sp." and perhaps be able to tell you the color of the fruit, the taste of the pads, and perhaps be able to claim where they are from and what the local people call them. The real experts are the native peoples who have grown up eating these for generations. They know just by looking at the pad or fruit what the taste is; i.e., they know the subtle differences. Their naming conventions might be different from those in another native community hundreds of miles away. Further, I have met two individuals from different communities -- one from Sonora and the other Oaxaca, who use the same set of names but assign them to different fruits!

As for suitability for Barnetmill in zone 8b, you should not have a problem if you source your plants from a seller in the high desert areas of the southwest U.S.

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Old 05-05-2012, 05:52 PM   #3 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Fruiting Cactus, spineless for Florida

I am growing over 20 different Opuntia. Mostly for the fruit some for pads. Generally the most cultivated Opuntia are from the O. ficus-indica and hybrids from this.

So far I have;

14 Opuntia ficus/Opuntia sp. (selected for fruit and/or pads)
Opuntia monocantha (rootstock/fruit)
Opuntia tomentosa (fruit/landscape)
Opuntia engelmannii var. subarmata (pads and landscape)
Opuntia Stricta (pads)
Opuntia cochenillifera (pads and fruit)
Opuntia humifusa (rootstock)

Most of these Opuntia are rated down to zone 9a to 8a. Taste of pads varies quite a bit from different species. Some of my favorites has a good lemony green bean flavor of the pads. Fruit quality is very good from most types with some having a tart/sweet flavor while others having a pleasant sweet flavor.
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Old 05-05-2012, 10:40 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Fruiting Cactus, spineless for Florida

Barnettmill,

I have one growing that I have recently (Saturday week ago) eaten the fruit of. I don't know what they are but they survived twoyears in a row of 19 degrees F. Mine get close to five foot tall. The pads are quite large some over a foot and are protected by 1 1/2" spines. But those just poke you, at the base of each large spine are small hair like spines that are develish. They are best removed with strong duct tape. Don't ask how I know this or what happens if you back into one while say building a privacy fence. They are in bloom right now and have a large yellow flower. The fruit are purple in color and about two to three inches long and a inch or so in diameter. The fruit appear to have some of the small spines also. I cut the top and bottom off the fruit and then split it lengthwise. Next I scooped out the seeds and then separated the flesh from the rind. It was tasty but a little labor intensive. It was my first time though. The seeds were small, black and hard enough you could break a tooth. You should be aware that the juice inside is a very intense shade of purple and it stains your fingers and probably you mouth. I didn't look in the mirror. I would think you could make a dye for clothing out of it.

If you want some come over after work and we'll get you some. Just bring gloves!
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Old 05-06-2012, 03:14 PM   #5 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Fruiting Cactus, spineless for Florida

Darkman,

That description sounds like Opuntia humifusa, it grows wild in FL. It has good nematode resistance and tolerant of the soil/water conditions. Would be good pick for a rootstock, grafting Opuntia ficus-indica on it.

Btw, Darkman I can share some future pads with you that should perform in a zone 8B. Like Opuntia ficus-indica PARL 253, PARL 253 - Opuntia ficus-indica - TAMUK# 1313 - Chile.

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Old 05-06-2012, 08:34 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Fruiting Cactus, spineless for Florida

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Darkman,

That description sounds like Opuntia humifusa, it grows wild in FL. It has good nematode resistance and tolerant of the soil/water conditions. Would be good pick for a rootstock, grafting Opuntia ficus-indica on it.

Btw, Darkman I can share some future pads with you that should perform in a zone 8B. Like Opuntia ficus-indica PARL 253, PARL 253 - Opuntia ficus-indica - TAMUK# 1313 - Chile.

One thing I noticed with this. When I created my citrus plantings, I had to move some and I basically just half covered a few pads in the new are and they took right off.

Thanks I'll get up with Barnetmill and see what we can figure out. I read the link on it and I noticed it said that it doesn't fruit well in Texas. Would that be the case here?
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Old 05-06-2012, 10:05 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Fruiting Cactus, spineless for Florida

Quote:
Originally Posted by nullzero View Post
I am growing over 20 different Opuntia. Mostly for the fruit some for pads. Generally the most cultivated Opuntia are from the O. ficus-indica and hybrids from this.

So far I have;

14 Opuntia ficus/Opuntia sp. (selected for fruit and/or pads)
Opuntia monocantha (rootstock/fruit)
Opuntia tomentosa (fruit/landscape)
Opuntia engelmannii var. subarmata (pads and landscape)
Opuntia Stricta (pads)
Opuntia cochenillifera (pads and fruit)
Opuntia humifusa (rootstock)

Most of these Opuntia are rated down to zone 9a to 8a. Taste of pads varies quite a bit from different species. Some of my favorites has a good lemony green bean flavor of the pads. Fruit quality is very good from most types with some having a tart/sweet flavor while others having a pleasant sweet flavor.
Way to go!

It's those lemony green bean flavor pads that the peoples of central Mexico crave and I really enjoy them too.

Opuntia monocantha (?) are you referring to Eastern Prickly Pear, aka O. vulgaris?

The purple fruits of Western Prickly Pear (O. humifusa) are prized by my middle-aged customers who are 1st or 2nd generation Mexican immigrants.
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Old 05-06-2012, 10:13 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Fruiting Cactus, spineless for Florida

I need some pad recipes.
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Old 05-06-2012, 10:18 PM   #9 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Fruiting Cactus, spineless for Florida

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Way to go!

It's those lemony green bean flavor pads that the peoples of central Mexico crave and I really enjoy them too.

Opuntia monocantha (?) are you referring to Eastern Prickly Pear, aka O. vulgaris?

The purple fruits of Western Prickly Pear (O. humifusa) are prized by my middle-aged customers who are 1st or 2nd generation Mexican immigrants.
I spelled it wrong meant O. monacantha, its from South America. Its called the common prickly pear also. It has a distinctive bright green pads with long 2" spines. Its my most vigorous Opuntia, the mother plant was amazing with vigor, fruit size, and production. I intend to use it as a primary Opuntia grafting stock.
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Old 05-06-2012, 10:39 PM   #10 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Fruiting Cactus, spineless for Florida

Here is some pictures of some of the Opuntia;

Various Opuntia, mostly O. ficus-indica


Opuntia monacantha (in the back)
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Old 05-06-2012, 10:45 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Default Re: Fruiting Cactus, spineless for Florida

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Opuntia monacantha (in the back)
Oh yes, definitely Eastern Prickly Pear -- and you are correct that it is Opuntia monacantha and not the outdated O. vulgaris.
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Old 05-06-2012, 10:53 PM   #12 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Fruiting Cactus, spineless for Florida

Richard,

The cacti seem to be the most confusing with ID. So many different cactus have been regrouped and renamed. O. monacantha in the picture was selected by me growing in a person's front yard (it was there for years). I knocked on the door I asked for a pad or two. My friend who is a Opuntia collector IDed it for me a few years ago, and ever since I have been hooked on collecting worthy edible Opuntia.

If you want a pad of O. moncantha or anything else, feel free to message me anytime. I am always up for sharing any extra pads.
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Old 05-07-2012, 10:59 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Default Re: Fruiting Cactus, spineless for Florida

From what I am understanding from the this discussion is that ordering something from a catalog may not yield the type of fruit that is best. It appears that getting a stem from someone from a known specimen is the way to go. Right now for me this is for next year (Jan 2013) when I retire and have time to clear away trees and brush for plantings. Right now what ever time I have after caring for what I have will be devoted to catalpa tree/worm cultivation since it seems like one can make a little money from it. A neighbor saw someone pay a dollar for a single worm/caterpillar.

Quote:
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Richard,

The cacti seem to be the most confusing with ID. So many different cactus have been regrouped and renamed. O. monacantha in the picture was selected by me growing in a person's front yard (it was there for years). I knocked on the door I asked for a pad or two. My friend who is a Opuntia collector IDed it for me a few years ago, and ever since I have been hooked on collecting worthy edible Opuntia.

If you want a pad of O. moncantha or anything else, feel free to message me anytime. I am always up for sharing any extra pads.
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Old 05-09-2012, 11:03 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Default Re: Fruiting Cactus, spineless for Florida

I don't know if I can squeeze in one of those but a dollar a worm sounds good.
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Old 05-10-2012, 12:28 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Default Re: Fruiting Cactus, spineless for Florida

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I don't know if I can squeeze in one of those but a dollar a worm sounds good.
You can keep it cut back because with time they become good size trees and to start one you must use cuttings from a tree that has worms because for some unknown reason some seedlings will not grow worms. I have access to my neighbors trees that all have worms. Best bass and catfish bait that one can get or at least so people say. I need to apply for my free FL fishing and hunting license that you can get after the age of 65.
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Old 05-10-2012, 06:16 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Default Re: Fruiting Cactus, spineless for Florida

I'm trimming some trees right now to allow for my well (need room for the derrick) and to open up some areas with more sun for more figs and maybe a catalpa. LOL Since I can't eat the worms it will not have the priority of the edibles. Now if I could get a fisherman to trade Catfish for worms I might do that!

On a banana note. I have several ornamental bananas growing in dense shade and they look good. One has pupped quite a bit and I'll start taking the pups and speading the plants around my shaded areas.
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Old 05-10-2012, 07:48 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Default Re: Fruiting Cactus, spineless for Florida

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I'm trimming some trees right now to allow for my well (need room for the derrick) and to open up some areas with more sun for more figs and maybe a catalpa. LOL Since I can't eat the worms it will not have the priority of the edibles. Now if I could get a fisherman to trade Catfish for worms I might do that!

On a banana note........
Talk to some of the people that run trot lines on our local rivers. Avoid fish from areas that have PCB advisories like Escambia Bay and lower River and our local bayous.

How deep are you going with your well? The main producing zone in Pensacola is about 100-220 ft down in most places. We have a sand and gravel aquifer and the Floridan is much, much deeper and salty in our region and full of pollutants from Monsanto's et al, deep well waste injection. Since I live next to a creek (Barnettmill Ck) I am thinking of just digging a deep hole by the creek with a rented backhole and using a trash pump to obtain water for irrigation. I live on a slope and need to calculate that factor for transporting water up the slope.
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Old 05-10-2012, 08:14 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Default Re: Fruiting Cactus, spineless for Florida

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Talk to some of the people that run trot lines on our local rivers. Avoid fish from areas that have PCB advisories like Escambia Bay and lower River and our local bayous.

How deep are you going with your well? The main producing zone in Pensacola is about 100-220 ft down in most places. We have a sand and gravel aquifer and the Floridan is much, much deeper and salty in our region and full of pollutants from Monsanto's et al, deep well waste injection. Since I live next to a creek (Barnettmill Ck) I am thinking of just digging a deep hole by the creek with a rented backhole and using a trash pump to obtain water for irrigation. I live on a slope and need to calculate that factor for transporting water up the slope.
I had my well put in this morning. They hit water bearing sand at 44' and that layer went to 115' before it hit clay. They installed a twenty foot screen at 115'. I'm going with a 2 1/2 horse pump on 2" Schedule 80 pipe. It will flow 48 - 50 GPM a 50 PSI. I'm using a 80 Gallon lined tank. That size tank will let me use about 25 gallons before the pump comes on so I can hand water some plants without cycling the pump. I can also add a second tank or larger tank if needed. Last Summer I had two months were my water bill exceeded $400.00! About $100.00 of that was house water and sewer. It won't take long to pay for the well with a few months a year like that. I should save $150.00 most months. That is good news.

Your plan sounds like it could work well. You'd have to figure a way to filter the water unless you use flood irrigation. If not the particulates will clog up you irrigation system. Your water table may not be as high as mine and it could be that you could drill your own.

I may be going to JF&E in a couple weeks.
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Old 05-10-2012, 10:09 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Default Re: Fruiting Cactus, spineless for Florida

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I had my well put in this morning. They hit water bearing sand at 44' and that layer went to 115' before it hit clay. They installed a twenty foot screen at 115'. I'm going with a 2 1/2 horse pump on 2" Schedule 80 pipe. It will flow 48 - 50 GPM a 50 PSI. I'm using a 80 Gallon lined tank. That size tank will let me use about 25 gallons before the pump comes on so I can hand water some plants without cycling the pump. I can also add a second tank or larger tank if needed. Last Summer I had two months were my water bill exceeded $400.00! About $100.00 of that was house water and sewer. It won't take long to pay for the well with a few months a year like that. I should save $150.00 most months. That is good news.

Your plan sounds like it could work well. You'd have to figure a way to filter the water unless you use flood irrigation. If not the particulates will clog up you irrigation system. Your water table may not be as high as mine and it could be that you could drill your own.

I may be going to JF&E in a couple weeks.
Best wishes for your well and saving a lot of money. I would never feel content about $400 for any utility. I never water my grass and as long as I mow it shrubs are held at bay. Watering it only makes it grow faster meaning you have to cut it more often.
The irrigation is for my fruit trees when it gets extremely dry and my future garden for when it also gets dry. I know several of my neighbors have installed wells for irrigation purposes of their lawns.
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Old 05-10-2012, 10:53 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Default Re: Fruiting Cactus, spineless for Florida

LOL,

I have no grass this is solely for my Vegetable garden, grape vines, blueberries, figs, other fruit trees, Palms and some tropical ornamental beds.

Grass? We don't need no stinking Grass!
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AS ALWAYS IMHO AND YOUR MILEAGE MAY DIFFER!!!!!!!!

Life - Some assembly required, As is no warranty, Batteries not included, Instructions shipped separately and are frequently wrong!

Kentucky Bourbon - It may not solve the problem but it helps to make it tolerable!

Statistics - Data that analyst twist to support the insane opinions of those that pay them.
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