Guava

By Gina Marzolo, graduate student of agricultural sciences, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, grmarzolo@cpp.edu, May 2016.

Edited by Dan Lee, communications specialist – College of Agriculture, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, dblee@cpp.edu, May 2016.

Introduction

Psidium guajava is the main guava commercially produced throughout the world and is the primary focus of this profile. However, there are many species within the Psidium genus, such as Psidium cattleianum, that produce edible fruits. Another fruit with the common name “pineapple guava” is briefly discussed, but it is not a true guava (Sauls, 1998).

In the United States, Psidium guajava is most often referred to as “guava” or “tropical guava” and is predominantly commercially grown in Hawaii, followed by Florida, and Puerto Rico (Crane & Balerdi, 2005). Guava is grown on a smaller scale in California and Texas (Sauls, 1998) (“Tropical Guava” – CRFG, 1996). Guava is native to southern Mexico and Central America (Morton, 1987) (“Guava” – Trade Winds Fruit, 2013). Guava fruit is similar in size to apples and pears. Depending on the variety, the flesh can either be soft or slightly crunchy when ripe and can exhibit a creamy white, light to dark pink or almost red color (“Guava” – Four Wind Growers, 2016). Guava fruit has a very aromatic fragrance and a bold flavor, which can be very sweet to somewhat tart and is said to taste similar to pineapple, papaya, banana and lemon (“Guavas” – Specialty Produce, n.d.).

Psidium cattleianum is commonly referred to as “strawberry guava” and is native to southeastern Brazil. It is not commercially grown in the United States and is considered an invasive species in Florida and Hawaii (“Assessment of non-native” – University of Florida, 2012) (“Strawberry Guava” – United States Forest Service, 2013).

Acca sellowiana is commonly referred to as “pineapple guava” and is grown commercially in New Zealand. It is also grown throughout the United States, but not commercially. It is native to the most southern region of Brazil, northern Argentina, western Paraguay and mountainous regions of Uruguay (“Feijoa” – CRFG, 1996) (“Feijoa” – New Zealand Feijoa Growers Association, 2016).

Marketing Channels

In mild climates, guava can bloom year round; however, spring is the main season in which guava trees bloom, and the fruit is ready 90 to150 days later in late summer or early fall. While ripening, the fruit changes color from green to yellow and becomes considerably soft. Harvesting guava when completely ripe guarantees the best flavor, but it is best to dodo so only if the fruit will be processed, sold on-site or sold locally. If the fruit is destined for further shipping, it can be picked while still slightly green and will continue to ripen when stored at room temperature (Gillespie, n.d.).  

The majority of guava fruit produced around the world is consumed fresh (Chopda & Barrett, 2007). Fresh guava is mainly sold on-site through farm stands, at farmers’ markets and through specialty grocery stores. One way to add value when selling fresh guava is to advertise its nutritional content. Guava has more vitamin C than an orange (Usman et al, 2013).
Another way to add value to guava is to process it into products such as juice, puree, paste, jam, canned slices in syrup, dried fruit, ice cream, and nutrient powders. It is also used in beauty products such as shampoos and lip balms.

With the tree being native to parts of Mexico, it is no wonder that guava fruit is used in a lot of Mexican cuisine. One recipe called ponche navideño is a traditional beverage consumed in Mexico around Christmas. It includes simmering a dark-brown unrefined cane sugar called piloncillo with water, cinnamon sticks and winter fruits, the most important of which  guava and tejocotes (tejocotes are another type of fruit native to parts of Mexico) (Tellez, 2010) (Graber, 2011). Guava is not only a favored fruit in Mexican cuisine, it is also a favored fruit in many Indian and Southeast Asian cuisines (“Guava” – ifood.tv, n.d.).

Production

Every year the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) publishes a Noncitrus Fruits and Nuts Summary. In the United States, Hawaii is the only state reported for commercial production of guava (“Noncitrus fruits” – NASS, 2015).

In 2014, 100 acres of guava were harvested in Hawaii with a yield of 17,000 pounds per acre for a total production of 1.7 million pounds. The price of guava was $0.18/pound, and the total value of all guava produced was $306,000 (“Noncitrus fruits” – NASS, 2015).

Guava trees often produce fruit two to four years after planting, and will yield between 50 to80 pounds of fruit per tree, per year (Morton, 1987) (Crane & Balerdi, 2005). Guava trees can live up to approximately 40 years. However, fruit production starts to decline rapidly after 15 years. Pruning heavily is one way to encourage more fruit growth and can also help rejuvenate declining trees (Gillespie, n.d.) (Silber, 2009).

India is the world’s leader in guava production, with Mexico being the second-leading producer (Usman et al, 2013).

Although California is not currently producing guava on a large scale, the trees grow well in the state, especially in Southern California. Many farms in the region are growing and selling the fruit (Spurrier, 2012) (Gillespie, n.d.)  (“Introduction” – Serrato Farms, n.d.) (“Local guavas” – Agrilicious, n.d.).

Exports/Imports/United States Consumption

The Economic Resource Service (ERS) reports exports and imports for many fruits and vegetables and often combines data for commodities that are considered minor crops. Such is the case with guava fruit. For the 2015 market year, the export data from the ERS only reported on fresh guava and combined the data of fresh guava, mangoes and mangosteens. In 2015 the United States exported 26.9 million pounds of fresh guava, mangoes and mangosteens valued at $14.2 million. The three main countries to receive these fresh fruits from the United States were

  • Canada: 6.7 million pounds, valued at $3.7 million
  • The Netherlands: 5.8 million pounds worth $3.2 million
  • and the United Kingdom: 5.6 million pounds worth $2.7 million (“Fruit and Tree” – ERS, 2016).

For the 2015 market year import data on guava, the ERS reported on fresh, dried and prepared or preserved guava. For the imported fresh and prepared or preserved guava, the ERS did not combine the guava data with any other fruit data. However, it combined the dried guava data with mangosteen data (“Fruit and Tree” – ERS, 2016).

In 2015, the United States imported 14 million pounds of fresh guava, valued at $11.6 million. The two main countries supplying fresh guava to the United States were

  • Mexico: 12.9 million pounds worth $8.9 million
  • and Thailand:  902,000 pounds $2.5 million.

The United States also imported 301,000 pounds of dried guava and mangosteen valued at $225,000. The primary suppliers of dried guava and mangosteeen to the United States were

  • South Africa 253,000 pounds, worth $137,000
  • and Thailand supplying 29,000 pounds, valued at $80,000.

U.S. imports of prepared or preserved guava accounted for 27.3 million pounds valued at $14 million. The primary supplier of prepared of preserved guava was Brazil (12 million pounds valued at $5.5 million) (“Fruit and Tree” – ERS, 2016).

Management

Guava trees are a subtropical fruit, and are thus not tolerant of cold. Young guava trees are extremely susceptible to temperatures at or below 27 to28 degrees Fahrenheit and exposure could lead to tree death. Mature trees will be severely damaged if exposed to temperatures at or below 25 to26 degrees Fahrenheit (Crane and Balerdi, 2005).

When establishing guava trees, it is recommended to water them at planting and then every other day during the first two weeks. After the first year, growers can reduce water to once or twice per week (Crane and Balerdi, 2005). Once established, a good rule of thumb is to allow the ground to dry several inches below the soil line before watering more (“Tropical Guava” – CRFG, 1996). After two years, guava trees are considered mature (Crane and Balerdi, 2005). Mature guava trees are said to be relatively drought tolerant. However, in areas such as California that receive only 15 to20 inches in annual rainfall, guava trees will benefit from additional irrigation of two acre-feet every 15-20 days during the summer months, and two-acre feet every month during the winter months. Giving plenty of water to fruit trees from their blooming period through fruit development ensures maximum fruit yield (Morton, 1987).In addition to irrigation, mature guava trees prosper from monthly applications of fertilizer (“Tropical Guava” – CRFG, 1996).

Financial

Helpful enterprise budget for guava:

Sources

Assessment of non-native plants in Florida’s natural areas - Psidium cattleianum, University of FloridaInstitute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS), 2012.

Chopda, C.A., & Barrett, D.M., 2007. Optimization of guava juice and powder production, Department of Food Science and Technology, University of California Davis.

Crane, J.H., & Balerdi, C.F., 2005. Guava growing in the Florida Home Landscape, University of Florida – Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS).

Feijoa, California Rare Fruit Growers, 1996.

Feijoa, New Zealand Feijoa Growers Association, 2016.

Fruit and Tree Nut Data – Exports/Imports, Economic Research Service (ERS), USDA, 2016.

Gillespie, E. How Long to Harvest Guavas? SFGate.com, n.d.

Graber, K.H., 2011. Fragrant, festive Mexican guavas: For Christmas punch and other delights, Mexconect.

Guava, Four Wind Growers, 2016.

Guava, ifood.tv, n.d.

Guava, Trade Winds Fruit, 2013.

Guavas, Specialty Produce, n.d.

Introduction, Serrato Farms, n.d.

Local guavas in California, Agrilicious, n.d.

Morton, J., 1987. Fruits in warm climates – Guava, Purdue University.

Noncitrus Fruits and Nuts Summary, National Agricultural Statistical Service (NASS), USDA, 2015.

Sauls, J.W., 1998. Home fruit production – guava, Texas Agricultural and Mechanical College (Texas A&M).

Silber, A., 2009. How to Prune a Guava Tree Pt. 2 – YouTube, Papaya Tree Nursery.

Spurrier, J., 2012. Growing guava of a different color, Los Angeles Time.

Strawberry Guava: Not All Green is Good, United States Forest Service - Pacific Southwest Research Station, 2013.

Tellez, L., 2010. How to make ponche, the traditional Mexican Christmas punch, The Mija Chronicles.

Tropical Guava, California Rare Fruit Growers, 1996.

Usman, M., Samad, W.A., Fatima, B., and Shah, M.H., 2013. Pollen Parent Enhances Fruit Size and Quality in Intervarietal Crosses in Guava (Psidium guajava), International Journal of Agriculture and Biology, 15, 125-129.

Links checked May 2016.