Small dragon fruits may be related to the pollination rate, plant health & flower opening/closing. Let's see some possible reasons why:
1. Pollination Fertilized Rate
In some cases, rain can get into the dragon fruit flowers & make the pollen wet. This may affect the resulting fruits. Often, if there is rain on the north side, you may see those dragon fruit flowers on the north side produce smaller fruits than those on the south side.
The wind may blow some pollen away from the anthers (the male part). This can reduce the amount of pollen getting into the stigma (the female part). Mildew, especially those containing small pieces of salt, can also affect the pollen quality. With fewer good pollen, although the plants may fruit, the fruits may not reach its full potential sizes. Thus, they are comparatively smaller.
Also, we can look at the:
2. Plant Health
Using too much fertilizer can weaken also the pitaya overtime. If you feed the plants at the wrong time, for example when the fruit is already forming, it can turn the fruit dark green & make it slow to grow. Comparing two dragon fruit branches, the dark green & light green, the light green branch almost always nourishes the fruit better from one grower's experience.
Also see if the plants are too young or too old. Dragon fruit plants are often propagated by cuttings (or cloning). The clones may be weaken overtime as there is less genetic variety to evolve or cope with new environmental conditions.
See how many flowers/fruits the tree is carrying relative to its size. If there's too many children in the house, the mama might need to cut back a little to support all of her babies. And this can result in smaller fruits. It's a good idea to keep 1-2 small branches (or buds) for each big branch to even out the load.
Have you also tried:
3. Wrapping the Flowers
Because rain may affect the flowers, many growers tie them closed with rubber bands. This way, the rain won't get in & cause rot. Because of this restrain, the fruit growing out may not get enough room to grow out. This may affect 10% of the fruit crops, but not too much.
4. Maybe the Small Size Is a Natural Thing
Some dragon fruit varieties like the Sugar Dragon S8 or Voodoo Child (created by Paul Thomson) are naturally smaller than others. It's about 4 inches & weighs around 5 oz to 0.5 lb. They are super tiny tiny fruits but are fully packed with a ton of flavor.
The Yellow Dragon & Colombiana (with identical DNA) also produce pretty small fruits. They are about 0.5 to 0.75 lbs. So if this is the case, then it may be a nature's thing. Another possibility is that the farmers pick the fruits early, so the fruits are smaller :)
5. Fruits Dropping From the Branch
For some dragon fruit varieties, the mother branch can only hold onto the fruits for about 10 days before dropping them. Because of this, the dragon fruits don't get any bigger than that after de-attaching from the branch. For other Purple/Magenta varieties, the hooking-on-branch time can be a month. So the size of the fruit may be bigger.
If you haven't heard of it before, Cho Gao Yellow is a hybrid dragon fruit variety that has the ability of anchoring the fruits on the branch for maximum growing size. This results in bigger, heavier fruits with a mildly sweet taste.
If you want to get bigger, heavier fruits:
Hand Pollination Might Help
Some growers have had good results when doing hand pollination on dragon fruit plants:
Here's another example:
It's a very interesting experiment. We wonder how the taste compares. But again, hand pollinating may not be the only direct cause for bigger fruit size. It may also be the number of fruits/flowers on the plant, the weather, the food, etc.
To get good results, remember to use good fresh pollen. And cross pollinate between different varieties. Some people freeze the pollen, others just keep them in the cooler.
Some folks say the bigger fruits taste 1.5x sweeter than the smaller ones. Depending on the variety, like Thai Yellow, the smaller fruits may actually be sweeter than the bigger ones. There are other factors that might affect sweetness.
If you want more dragon fruit hand pollinating, check out the guide below:
>> Link Blog post: How to pollinate dragon fruits
Getting Bigger Fruits
Spending some time understanding more about your dragon fruit plants may yield good results. Bigger tastier fruits can mean a lot especially for small- or large-scale farmers. After you've checked all the boxes, take a few seconds to try the job of a bee (hand pollinate). And finally you can enjoy the results. Good luck & have lots of fun and fruits.
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