Red pitaya has adapted to live in dry tropical climates with a moderate amount of rain. The dragon fruit sets on the cactus-like trees 30-50 days after flowering and can sometimes have 5-6 cycles of harvests per year. There are some farms in Vietnam that produce 30 tons of fruit per hectare every year (Jacobs, 1999).
Overwatering or excessive rainfall can cause the flowers to drop and fruit to rot. Birds can be a nuisance. The bacterium Xanthomonas campestris causes the stems to rot. Dothiorella fungi can cause brown spots on the fruit, but this is not common (Felger and Moser, 1985)
Red-skinned pitayas are rich in vitamins, especially Vitamin C. Pitayas are rich in fiber and minerals, notably phosphorus and calcium. Red pitayas are richer in the former, yellow ones in the latter. In Taiwan, diabetics use the fruit as a food substitute for rice and as a source of dietary fibre. Pitayas are also rich in phytoalbumins which are highly valued for their antioxidant properties. Costa Rica Pitayas are rich in antioxidants which prevent the formation of cancer-causing free radicals (Jacobs et al., 1999). The typical nutritional value per 100g of raw pitaya (of which 55 g are edible) is shown in Table 2.1.