Custard apple can be called as a delicacy of dry region due to its very sweet delicate flesh. It is a deciduous or semi-deciduous tall woody shrub of about 5-6 meters height having irregularly spreading branches. The fruits are rich in carbohydrate mainly in the form of sugar (23.5%), protein (1.6%), calcium (17mg/100g), phosphorus (47mg/100g) and iron (1.5mg/100g). It is one of the finest fruits introduced in India from tropical America and found in wild form in many parts of the country. Fruits are dark greening brown in color and marked with depressions giving it a quilted appearance; its pulp is reddish yellow, sweetish, and very soft (hence the common name); the kernels of the seeds are said to be poisonous.
Custard apple growing regions in India include Assam, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Tamil Nadu. Approximately 55,000 hectares are dedicated to custard apple cultivation. Along with Maharashtra, Gujarat is another large custard apple growing state.
The fruit tolerates a variety of conditions, from saline soils to droughts. In fact, farmers usually cultivate the fruits on hills in barren lands. Erratic rains will, however, impede fruit quality. Annona fruits grow well throughout the plains of India at elevations not exceeding 4,000 ft. It prefers a tropical climate, but with cool winters. The fruit tolerates a variety of conditions, from saline soils to droughts. Farmers usually cultivate the fruits on hills in barren lands. Erratic rains will, however, impede fruit quality. The tree displays yellow trumpet shaped flowers that emit a pleasant sweet smell, with only a small number of flowers setting fruit. The fruits are variable in shape with the outer being covered in rounded knobs, with the inside containing a
The tree displays yellow trumpet shaped flowers that emit a pleasant sweet smell, with only a small number of flowers setting fruit. The fruits are variable in shape with the outer being covered in rounded knobs, with the inside containing a custard like flesh.
Scientific name-Annona squamosa L.
Soils and Climate requirement for Custard Apple cultivation-
The sandy, marginal and waste lands may be utilized for growing these fruits. Since waterlogging causes tree decline, heavy soils with poor drainage, sub-soil with hardpan or high water table should be avoided. Sitaphal is capable of growing in soils having 50% lime 300ppm of chlorine in irrigation water.
Areas with high humidity, occasional rains and warm temperature are ideal for Sitaphal in terms of fruit set and development.
Custard Apple Varieties-
It is a local seedling variety collected from Balanagar area of Mahaboobnagar district of Andhra Pradesh. The fruit quality is good. Fruit size big with large tuberless and plenty of very sweet pulp.
The fruits are purple colored and the leaves of the plant are purplish at the midrib. Sweet in taste but seeds is many. This variety has got the disadvantage of developing stone fruits. Its seedlings come true to type and are very prolific.
This is an introduced variety. The fruit is large, pulpy, few seeded and greenish-white in color. The bearing is sparse.
Fruit large, greenish white in color, pulpy, few seeded quality good, bearing sparse. Fruits keep for about a week after ripening without spoilage.
This is an Australian variety. The fruit is very large in size, smooth surface, very large segments, very pulpy very delicious, few seeded, greenish white in color, pulp very sweet, excellent flavor, bearing is sparse fruits irregular in shape, keeps for about a week.
This is a variety of Atemoya, introduced from Australia. The fruit is very large, ovoid, pulpy, delicious, very few seeded and greenish pink in color, smooth surface, has very broad and round segments, excellent in quality, bearing is poor. Fruits are irregular in shape. Fruits keep for about a week after ripening without damage.
This is a hybrid between Seethaphal and Cherimoya. Atemoya grows to a height of about 5-6m and has luxuriant growth. Hence, planting distance must be 7m x 7m. Ripe fruits are whitish green in color, juicy, delicious and pulpy with an excellent acidic flavor. Very few seeded. Keeping the quality good, can be kept even up to 10 days. Bearing is erratic. For every 8-10 plants of Atemoya, one custard apple plant should be planted in the middle to act as polleniser plant, otherwise the bearing of Atemoya will be poor and erratic. Atemoya fruits will come to harvest from October to December.
By veneer grafting on its rootstock.
Pits (50 x 50 cms) are dug and filled with a mixture of 20 kgs of farmyard manure and 300 gms of fertilizers mixture of Urea, Single super phosphate and Muriate of potash in equal proportion at least a fortnight before planting. Planting is done in rainy season at a distance of 4m x 4m.
Manures and Fertilizers required for Custard Apple-
The bearing trees of Sitaphal should be given 250 gms N, 125 gmsP205, and 125 gms K20 per plant before the commencement of rainy season. The Atemoya should be fertilized with 450gms N, 450 gms P205, and 450gms K20 per plant of about 5 years age.
In the initial years of planting, intercrops like groundnut, minor millets, and linseed can be grown rainy season oil seeds and gram during the winter season.
Sitaphal bears flowers on current season growth and very rarely on older wood. The early completion of season is essential for the initiation of new growth. Therefore manual defoliation during the mid-summer is recommended.
Sitaphal does not require and prefers semi-arid conditions. For Atemoya after manuring irrigation may be given. However, when the fruits are developing one or two irrigations will improve the fruit size and yield.
Harvesting of Custard Apple-
Harvesting should be done at the proper stage of maturity. Fruits are harvested when the color is light green, segments become flat, the interspaces between segments become yellowish white and initiated cracking of the skin between the carpel. Fully mature fruits ripen in 2-3 days after harvest. The temperature between 15-300C and low relative humidity accelerates the process of ripening.
The Sitaphal fruits can be stored at 15-200C temperature, 85- 90% relative humidity, low oxygen and Ethylene tension and 10% Co2, was emulsion at 8% also extends the storage life.
Some fruits instead of attaining full size remain very small and become brown and dry up. These are known as stone fruits which are retained on tree for a long period. Competition among the developing fruits and high temperature are supposed to cause stone fruit formation.
This usually happens from a heavy rainfall or irrigation after a prolonged day spell. Evenly distributed irrigation schedule and constant and uniform moisture level in the soil will reduce this problem.
Pests of Custard Apple and their control-
1.Mealy bugs (Ferrisia virgata, Planococcus lilacinus, P. pacificus,Perissopnueumon ferox)
Colonies of small reddish white mealy bugs infest leaves, shoots, buds and fruits. Due to sucking of sap by nymphs and adult female mealy bugs, fruits remain small in size and become shriveled. The presence of a large number of mealy bugs in grooves of fruits epicarp along with sooty mould affects its market value.
Remove all infested fruits and destroy them along with mealy bugs. Spray Chlorpyriphos 0.05% or Dimethoate 0.045% at the initial stage of infestation. Exclude the ants by putting sticky bands or destroy their colonies in the orchard.
Diseases of Custard Apple and its control-
1.Leaf spot and fruit rot (Glomerella cingulata)
It occurs as light brown to blackish spots on leaves and such leaves defoliate causing die back of plants. The fruit infection takes place both from blossom end as well as stem end side as dry brown spots.
Apply Carbendazim/Thiophanate 1g/lit and Chlorothalonil/Mancozeb 2g/lit during the rainy season.
- Dr. Y. S.R. Horticulture University, Andhra Pradesh.