It’s exciting when your papaya plant begins to develop fruit. It’s disappointing, though, when you see your papaya dropping fruit before it ripens. Early fruit drop in papaya has several different causes. For more information about why papaya fruit drops, read on.
Why Papaya Fruit Drops
If you see your papaya dropping fruit, you’ll want to know why. The causes of papaya fruit drop are many and varied. These are the most common reasons for fruit drop on papaya trees.
Natural fruit drop in papaya. If papaya fruit is falling off when it is small, about the size of golf balls, the fruit drop is probably natural. A female papaya plant naturally drops fruit from flowers that were not pollinated. It is a natural process since an unpollinated flower fails to develop into fruit.
Water issues. Some of the causes of papaya fruit drop involve cultural care. Papaya trees like water—but not too much. Give these tropical plants too little and the water stress can cause fruit drop in papaya. On the other hand, if papaya trees get too much water, you’ll see your papaya dropping fruit as well. If the growing area is flooded, that explains why your papaya fruit is falling off. Keep the soil constantly moist but not wet.
Pests. If your papaya fruits get attacked by papaya fruit fly larva (Toxotrypana curvicauda Gerstaecker), it’s likely that they will yellow and fall to the ground. The adult fruit flies look like wasps, but the larvae are worm-like maggots that hatch from eggs injected into small green fruit. The hatched larvae eat the inside of the fruit. As they mature, they eat their way out of the papaya fruit, which falls to the ground. You can avoid this problem by tying a paper bag around each fruit.
Blight. Suspect Phytophthora blight if your papaya fruit shrivels before it falls to the ground. The fruit will also have water-soaked lesions and fungal growth. More than the fruit will be affected, however. The tree foliage will brown and wilt, sometimes resulting in the collapse of the tree. Prevent this problem by applying copper hydroxide-mancozeb fungicide spray at fruit set.