If you’re growing sugar apple (Annona squamosa) or atemoya trees in Florida, you know that maximizing your chances of getting healthy, big, and delicious fruit is essential. One way to increase your yield is through artificial hand-pollination, which can almost guarantee fruit set up to nearly 100%.
Understanding Dichogamy in Sugar Apple and Atemoya Trees
Both sugar apple and atemoya trees have both female and male sexual parts that mature at different times of the day, a phenomenon known as dichogamy. This means that gardeners can carry out hand-pollination to cross-pollinate the flowers and increase the chances of fruit production.
Best Time to Hand Pollinate
The best time to artificially hand pollinate sugar apple flowers is in the morning between 6:00 AM and 10:00 AM. Atemoya flowers are best pollinated in the morning between 6:00 AM and 11:00 AM.
Why Hand Pollinate Your Sugar Apple and Atemoya Flowers?
Artificially hand-pollinating your sugar apple and atemoya flowers can lead to a better fruit set and yield. To get started, you’ll need a few materials:
- Horsehair paintbrush with soft hairs, or Q-tip
- Black film canister, pill jar, dark-colored cup
Three Steps to Hand Pollinate Your Sugar Apple Tree Successfully
Step 1: Identify the Pollination Stage
When sugar apple flowers first open, they are females. But, by the next day, they will turn into males. The male stage is when you should collect the pollen. To identify a male flower, look for its open pedal formation compared to a female flower, which is slightly closed.
Step 2: Collect Pollen
Use your pipe cleaner or pollen-collecting tool and brush the insides of the male flower while holding your film canister or selected cup under it. Lightly brush the inside of the flowers while observing the pollen from the male flower fall.
Step 3: Pollinate Female Flower
Once you’ve collected the pollen from the male flower, look for a female flower in its pollination stage. Take the pollen and collect it onto your tool. Slightly open up the pedal and brush the pollen inside the female flower. We recommend using your brushing tool more than once to maximize the amount of pollen in the flower.
How to Pollinate Sugar Apple Flowers Naturally?
Nitidulid beetles are the natural pollinator of sugar apple flowers in Florida’s nature. Without these beetles present in your yard, the flowers may not pollinate or semi-pollinate, leading to irregular fruit growth or no fruit at all. If your garden has no nitidulid beetles, it’s because there isn’t enough rotting fruit and vegetables around the yard.
Creating a compost ditch is very beneficial in any Florida garden to attract nitidulid beetles.
Nitilud Beetles in Florida
Nitidulid beetles are typically found in areas where there are decomposing fruit and vegetables. These areas are where they like to feed and reproduce. We recommend having a compost ditch on your property or in a bin. Although the nitidulid beetle is attracted to the strong aroma of flowering sugar apple flowers, it also needs food to feed on.
When Do Sugar Apple Trees Flower?
Sugar apple trees grown from seed take two to three years before they can flower and set fruit. It’s recommended to allow plants to focus energy on growing strong during the first few years to encourage root development.
What do female and male sugar apple / atemoya flowers look like?
Male sugar apple petals are widespread while female sugar apple or atemoya petals are closer together