W ith the growing popularity of acai berry benefits, interest in growing the berries is on the rise as well. The Acai berry is generally grown from seeds which germinate within a few weeks to a couple of months. One week after harvest, the seeds can be stored at room temperature for a short period. Germination occurs in about four to five weeks, however, inoculation with mycrorhiza can reduce this time. Micro-propagation techniques have also been developed for rapid acai berry propagation. The acai berry palm has a suckering growth habit so suckers are also used. Suckers are the shoots that grow from the rootstock and they should be removed when they are young and then planted. A mature acai berry palm tree can have as many as 25 or more suckers. It grows best in low or filtered shade and thrives at a temperature of about 50 degrees Fahrenheit in warm, moist or waterlogged soil.
Anyone can grow acai berry palm trees in the right conditions and enjoy all the nutritional benefits of fresh acai berries. In regions that are free of frost, acai berry propagation outside is possible but with some precautions. A greenhouse may be required to create the optimum conditions for the acai berry to flourish. The acai berry palm trees tend to grow quickly but in general, it would take three years to yield acai berries for the first time. A hardy and healthy acai berry palm tree can bear massive amounts of fruit.
Proper care should be taken to germinate the seeds in suitable conditions. They must be soaked in warm water for 24 to 48 hours till they absorb enough moisture and are then planted in wet soil. It is crucial to maintain warm soil during the succeeding weeks to provide appropriate conditions for optimum germination of the seeds. Sprouts usually appear within a few days and they should be kept warm, usually with the help of warm lighters. Within two weeks, the seeds will develop into red spikes, followed by the appearance of leaves in the next few weeks. Under ideal conditions, 90 to 95 percent germination rates can be achieved.
Other important considerations for acai berry propagation include soil quality, climate condition, pH, sunlight and the use of appropriate fertilizer. Acai berry palm trees grow best in a slightly acidic soil with the pH ranging between 6.0 - 6.5. On the pH scale, 7.0 is considered neutral. Anything lower than 7.0 is acidic and anything above 7.0 is basic or alkaline. Note that the pH of the soil is an excellent indicator of the pH of the plant. In order to meet the ideal pH, nutrients can be added to the soil. With regard to fertilizer, the organic type is preferred to maintain the purity of the berries. Compost is typically used as it can provide adequate nourishment to the growing acai berry trees and ensure healthy growth. It is critical to choose compost that contains all essential nutrients equivalent to those that are absorbed in the natural conditions in the tropical regions of South America.
In the United States, acai berry palm trees grow well in Florida, especially in the state's southern tip. In other areas of the country, acai berry propagation may require structural protection from the elements. Most regions of the United States can sustain acai berry palm trees for many months and only need protection for a few short periods. The key is to provide an environment that mirrors a tropical region. Depending on the weather conditions and the budget of potential growers, the type and technical complexity of the protective structure can vary from heat lamps and plastic sheets to a glass enclosed facility.