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Abstract

During the mid and late 1990s the US Virgin Islands experienced frequent hurricanes which destroyed most of the papaya crops. From this experience, papaya breeding focused on developing short and compact lines with fruit set within one meter of the soil to reduce the center of gravity. A papaya plot was established in a double-row system, 2 m between plants in a row, 1 m between rows and 3 m between sets of double rows. Papaya trees seven months after transplanting, laden with fruit and in the first month of harvest, were subjected to hurricane Omar force winds in October 2008. Papaya varieties over two meters in height 'Tainung 1', 'Tainung 5', 'Known-You V and 'Kapoho'; had 10 to 20% broken stem, and 70 to 80% were blown down. Three compact papaya lines, 1-1.5 m tall, had no broken stems and only up to 15% of the plants were blown over. These results indicate that short productive trees, with a lower center of gravity, were able to tolerate hurricane force.

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