The sugar apple (Annona squamosa) belongs to the Annonaceae family. It is most common in India (called Sitaphal) and Brazil, and there it is one of the most important fruit crops. In Australia and India, it is also known as custard apple.
Planting Season: Spring and early summers in a cold climate. The most optimum temperature for growing sugar apple tree is around 50 F – 85 F (10 – 30 C). Despite being a tropical tree, sugar apple has some resistance to the cold. However, when the temperature falls below 32 F (0 C), emerging seedlings and young plants die. Mature trees show some frost tolerance to some degrees below the freezing point. Furthermore, the temperatures above or below optimum temperature affect pollination, can cause fruit or bud drop and reduce post-harvest life.
The plant easily handles extended periods of drought. However, excessive drought can cause leaf and fruit drop. Generally, water a mature tree every 12 to 15 days.
There must be adequate moisture in the soil to encourage vegetative growth and blooms that occur on the new branches. The tree should be watered in every 2 – 4 weeks during the period of low growth and every 3 to 5 days while it is flowering and setting fruits. The water stress must be prevented, and soil must be kept moist at this time as the fruit is more sensitive than the leaves to lack of water.
Relative humidity is one of the climatic factors that is highly responsible in the formation of flowers and pollination. For increased productivity, humidity should be maintained above 60% especially during the flowering period.
Application of complete fertilizer in the initial years of planting is recommended. Once the tree matures enough and able to set fruits the use of 3: 10: 10 fertilizer significantly increases the flowering, fruit setting, and harvest.
As for organic fertilization, sugar apple responds well to the application of organic matter from its earliest period of growth. The application of organic fertilizer improves the texture of the soil and its condition and facilitates root development.
One of the main problems affecting the yield and fruit quality of sugar apple tree is its low rate of pollination of flowers and the consequent production of fruit.
Sugar apple has complete flowers (bisexual). However, the male and female flower parts are functional at different times of the day (called *protandry, a condition in which an organism begins life as a male or female and changes the sex later). Sugar apple flowers first open during the day as a female flower. If female flower isn’t pollinated, early in the next morning the flowers open wider and shed pollen (male stage). It is recommended to attract pollinating insects or hand pollinate the flowers for best yield. This cycle is shortened when temperatures are high and lengthened when they are low.
Pruning must be done only in the spring if you are in a cold climate. Sugar apple trees tend to form many branches, so pruning is recommended to train the tree into the required shape and to regulate the number of main branches. Maintenance pruning serves to preserve the balance of the tree structure by removing suckers or shoots and branches that are growing in the wrong direction or directed towards the ground.
Cultivation: Prepare fertile, well-drained soil. Transfer the plant in late spring/early summer (soil temp at least 60°F) in a warm and sunny location. The plant is being grown in the greenhouse for approximately 6 – 8 weeks. Keep soil moist. Fertilize as needed. Train to climb a vertical support for better air circulation and ease of harvest.
Please note: Maturity, adaptability and disease tolerance may differ under your specific climate and/or growing conditions.
Culinary tips: Sugar Apples are popular fruits with sweet taste rich in vitamins. Sugar apple tree flowers have a sweet fragrance.
Sugar Apple Plant - Annona squamosa
Sugar Apple Plant will be ready for shipment in August 2021