How to Grow Custard Apple Tree

This fruit known as custard apple tree is not attractive. The custard apple tree is erect with a rounded or spreading crown and trunk ten to fourteen in (25-35 cm) thick. Height ranges from fifteen to thirty-five feet. Custard apple tree has ill-smelling leaves that are deciduous, alternate, oblong or narrow-lanceolate, four to eight inch long, ¾ to two inch wide, with conspicuous veins. Flowers, in drooping clusters, are fragrant, slender, with three outer fleshy, narrow petals ¾ to 1 ¼ inch long; light-green externally and pale-yellow with a dark-red or purple spot on the inside at the base. The flowers never fully open.

Furthermore, custard apple tree is believed to be a native of the West Indies but it was carried in early times through Central America to southern Mexico. Custard apple tree has long been cultivated and naturalized as far south as Peru and Brazil. Custard apple tree is commonly grown in the Bahamas and occasionally in Bermuda and southern Florida.

Custard apple tree was introduced into tropical Africa early in the 17th century and it is also grown in South Africa as a dooryard fruit tree. In India the Custard apple tree is cultivated, most especially around Calcutta, and it runs wild in many areas. Custard apple tree has become fairly common on the east coast of Malaya, and more or less throughout Southeast Asia and the Philippines though nowhere particularly esteemed. 80 years ago, Custard apple tree was reported as thoroughly naturalized in Guam. In Hawaii the tree is not well known.

Varieties: No named varieties are reported but there is actually considerable variation in the quality of fruit from different trees. The yellow-skinned varieties seem superior to the brownish, and, when well filled out, have thicker and juicier flesh. The seeds of purple-skinned, purple-fleshed varieties, from Mexico, were planted in Florida and the tree has produced fruit of unremarkable quality. 

Climate requirement: This particular tree needs a tropical climate but with cooler winters than those of the west coast of Malaya. Custard apple tree flourishes in the coastal lowlands of Ecuador; is rare above 5,000 ft (1,500 m). In areas of Guatemala, it is nearly always found below 4,000 ft (1,220 m). In India, Custard apple tree does well from the plains up to an elevation of 4,000 ft (1,220 m); in Ceylon, Custard apple tree cannot be grown above 3,000 ft (915 m). Around Luzon in the Philippines, it is common below 2,600 ft (800 m). Custard apple tree is too tender for California and trees introduced into Palestine succumbed to the cold. In southern Florida the leaves are shed at the first onset of cold weather and the tree is dormant all winter. Fully grown, it has survived temperatures of twenty-seven to twenty-eight degree Fahrenheit without serious harm.

Soil requirement: The custard apple tree actually does best in low-lying, deep, rich soil with ample moisture and good drainage. Custard apple tree grows to full size on oolitic limestone in southern Florida and runs wild in light sand and various other types of soil in the New and Old World tropics but is doubtless less productive in the less desirable sites.

Custard apple tree propagation: Custard apple tree can be propagated by seed. However, the tree can be multiplied by inarching, or by budding or grafting onto its own seedlings or onto soursop, sugar apple or pond apple rootstocks.

Culture: Custard apple tree is fast-growing and it responds well to mulching, organic fertilizers and to frequent irrigation if there is dry weather during the growing period. The form of the Custard apple tree may be improved by judicious pruning.  

Harvesting and Yield: The custard apple tree has the advantage of cropping in late winter and spring when the preferred members of the genus are not in season. It is picked when it has lost all green color and ripens without splitting so that it is readily sold in local markets. If picked green, it will not color well and will be of inferior quality. The tree is naturally a fairly heavy bearer. With adequate care, a mature tree will produce seventy-five to 100 lbs (34-45 kg) of fruits per year. The short twigs are shed after they have borne flowers and fruits.

Pests and disease control: The custard apple tree is heavily attacked by the chalcid fly. Many if not all of the fruits on a tree may be mummified before maturity. The ripening fruits need to be covered with bags or nets to avoid damage from fruit bats.

About the author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.