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Sonora, Mexico

San Carlos couple successfully grows pitahaya in the desert

Elizabeth and Greg Hovey are Sonora’s self-proclaimed “dragon fruit slayers,” growing the cactus fruit on a ranch outside San Carlos. In 2016, they began researching, running the numbers to see if it was a viable business. With organic, high-quality fruit running up to US $15 a pound, that seemed to be the case. And so Rancho Pitahaya was born.

Dragon fruit — known as pitahaya in Spanish — grows in Latin America in southern Mexico and downward into South America, but “since [Elizabeth’s] family is nearby and we love San Carlos, we chose to grow it here” in the deserts of coastal Sonora, Greg says.

The couple was told by experts and scientists that the plant could not grow there, but they decided that with some adaptations they could find a spot that was not too dry, too hot or too cold.

Dragon fruit may be expensive in the States, but it does not appeal to everyone. Like most cactus fruits, they are low in sugar, especially the common white-pulp variety. Growers in California have been experimenting with hybridization with pinks and reds, creating much sweeter fruits.


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