Cherimoya (Annona cherimola) Tree Care: A Guide for Growing Delicious Fruits
Cherimoya, also known as the ‘sugar apple of the highlands,’ is a delicious tropical fruit with a sweet, creamy flavor.
The fruit is native to the Andes mountains of South America but is now grown in many parts of the world. Growing your cherimoya tree can be a rewarding experience, but it requires proper care and attention.
This article will provide a comprehensive guide on caring for cherimoya trees and growing delicious fruits.
Good products at Amazon for growing Cherimoya
- Osmocote Plus – 15-9-12 Cherimoya Fertilizer
- Pyganic – Organic Cherimoya Insecticide
- Organic SuperGreen Kelp Foliar Spray
Cherimoya (Annona cherimola) Quick Care Guide
|Common names||Cherimoya, Annona, Custard apple|
|Scientific name||Annona cherimola|
|Months of harvest||Late March through July|
|Sun requirements||Full sun for best fruiting|
|Water requirements||Twice a week when fruiting and flowering|
|Soil requirements||Does well in various soils as long as well draining|
|Fertilizer requirements||Fertilize two to three times a year with slow release fertilizer|
|Pests||Annona seed borer, Potato leaf hopper, Scale|
|Diseases||Root rot disease, Bark disease|
Understanding Cherimoya Trees
The cherimoya tree is a medium to a large deciduous tree that can grow up to 30 feet tall in ideal conditions. The tree has a short trunk, a spreading crown, and large, dark green, glossy leaves.
The flowers of the cherimoya tree are small, greenish-yellow, and fragrant and are pollinated by the nitulid beetle.
The fruit of the cherimoya tree is round or heart-shaped, with green, scaly skin and sweet and sour, creamy white flesh.
The cherimoya fruit is not to be confused with the sugar apple, atemoya, or custard apple, which are different fruits in the same family.
For a more in depth comparison all three fruits, Custard apple, Cherimoya and Sugar apple check out this article.
Climate Requirements for Growing Cherimoya Trees
Cherimoya trees thrive in warm, humid climates and are sensitive to frost. The ideal temperature range for growing cherimoya trees is between 68°F to 82.4°F
Cherimoya trees can grow at elevations up to 6,562 feet (2,000 meters) but are sensitive to high winds and prefer a protected location.
Soil Requirements for Growing Cherimoya Trees
Cherimoya trees prefer well-drained soils that are rich in organic matter. The soil pH should be between 6.5 to 7.5.
Heavy soils that retain too much water can cause root rot, which is detrimental to the health of the tree.
Rootstock of Cherimoya
Cherimoya is often used as a rootstock because it is compatible with other Annona species, such as sugar apple and atemoya, and it can improve their resistance to pests and diseases.
Cherimoya rootstock is also known to promote stronger growth and yield, as well as increase fruit quality and size.
Additionally, cherimoya is relatively easy to grow from seed and can tolerate a wide range of soil conditions, making it a popular rootstock choice among Annona growers.
Planting Cherimoya Trees
Cherimoya trees should be planted in a sunny location protected from strong winds. The planting hole should be large enough to accommodate the tree’s root system, and the soil should be amended with organic matter before planting.
The top of the root ball should be level with the surrounding soil, and the tree should be staked to provide support. It is also important to water the tree thoroughly after planting.
Watering and Fertilizing Cherimoya Trees
Cherimoya trees require regular watering, especially during the dry season. The soil should be moist but not waterlogged, as excessive water can cause root rot.
The tree should be regularly fertilized with a balanced slow-release nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium fertilizer. The fertilizer should be applied every three months during the growing season, starting in the spring.
An excellent cherimoya fertilizer I recommend is Osmocote plus 15-9-12.
Check out this article to learn about the best tropical fruit trees fertilizers.
Pruning Cherimoya Trees
Pruning is essential for maintaining the health and shape of the cherimoya tree. Pruning should be done in the winter or early spring.
Pruning aims to remove any dead or diseased branches, thin out the canopy to allow for better air circulation, and remove any branches crossing or rubbing against each other. It is also important to prune the tree to maintain its desired size and shape.
Pest and Disease Control for Cherimoya Trees
Cherimoya trees are susceptible to various pests and diseases, including potato leaf hoppers, aphids, mites, scale insects, and fungal diseases.
It is important to monitor the tree regularly for any signs of pests or disease and to take action promptly. This may involve spraying the tree with an insecticide or fungicide or removing any infected branches or fruits.
An organic insecticide I use for all my Annonas is Pyganic, it works great to eliminate anything that tries to attack my cherimoya fruit trees.
Harvesting Cherimoya Fruits
Cherimoya fruits are ready to harvest when fully mature, and the skin is slightly soft to the touch, similar to a ripe avocado.
The fruit should be harvested by hand, using pruning shears to cut the stem close to the fruit. It is crucial to handle the fruit gently to avoid bruising or damaging it.
Storing and Using Cherimoya Fruits
Cherimoya fruits will begin to ripen up fast once cut and have a short shelf life. Once the fruit is soft, it should be consumed or stored in the fridge to slow the ripening process.
Cherimoya can also be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week, but once it starts to turn soft, eating it as fast as possible is advised for the best eating quality.
Cherimoya fruits can be eaten fresh or used in various recipes, including smoothies, ice cream, and desserts.
Growing cherimoya trees can be a rewarding experience, but it requires proper care and attention. By following the guidelines outlined in this article, you can ensure that your cherimoya tree grows healthy and produces delicious fruits. Remember to monitor the tree regularly for any signs of pests or disease and to take action promptly. Your cherimoya tree can provide you with years of delicious fruits with proper care.
Frequently Asked Questions About Growing Cherimoya
Q: Can cherimoya trees grow in cold climates?
A: Cherimoya trees are native to tropical and subtropical regions and require warm temperatures to grow and produce fruits. They are not well-suited for cold climates and can be damaged or killed by frost.
Q: How often should I water my cherimoya tree?
A: Cherimoya trees require regular watering, especially during the dry season. The soil should be moist but not waterlogged, as excessive water can cause root rot. Water the tree deeply once a week, often during hot, dry weather.
Q: What is the best fertilizer for cherimoya trees?
A: Cherimoya trees require a balanced fertilizer that is rich in nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. A slow-release fertilizer works best such as Osmocote or Florikan. Fertilize the cherimoya tree every two to three months during the growing season, starting in the spring.
Q: How do I know when my cherimoya fruits are ready to harvest?
A: Cherimoya fruits are ready to harvest when fully mature, and the skin is slightly soft to the touch. The fruit should be harvested by hand, using pruning shears to cut the stem close to the fruit.
Q: What is the best way to store cherimoya fruits?
A: Cherimoya fruits should be stored in a cool, dry place for up to a week if harvested when still hard. If harvested soft, it must be consumed within one to three days. Avoid storing cherimoya fruits with other fruits that produce ethylene gas, as this can cause the fruit to ripen and spoil more quickly.
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