From the Archives
of the Rare Fruit Council of Australia, inc.
by Gene Joyner
Annona squamosa x A. cherimola
family contains a number of delicious tropical fruits that are very
popular and can be grown well here in southern Florida. An exception to
that group is the cherimoya, which prefers higher elevations and
performs very poorly in lowland conditions. However, the sugar apple,
which is another excellent member of the family, has been grown here
for many years and is highly prized. Hybrids made between the sugar
apple (Annona squamosa) and cherimoya (,)
are called atemoya and are well adapted to warm, sea level conditions.
The atemoya have excellent quality, almost as good as cherimoya.
are relatively small, 25-30 feet in height with about an equal spread.
They are deciduous from mid-December to the mid-part of March. The
fruit are generally heart-shaped, 3 to 5 inches in diameter with a very
lumpy skin, individual segments being easily distinguished. At maturity
the fruit is a yellowish-green in color, and when broken open, a white
custard-like flesh is exposed with small, dark seeds. The flesh has a
sweet, delicious flavor.
The main season for atemoyas is
from late summer into the late fall; however, some late blooming might
enable people to have fruit even as late as Christmas. Trees prefer
well-drained fertile soils and they will grow over a wide range of pH -
they are one of the few trees that tolerate alkaline soils and do quite
well. Trees should be irrigated about once a week or more often during
dry conditions. During the dormant winter season, however, little
irrigation is needed. Atemoya trees should be fertilized about once
every 2 to 3 months when small, with a fruit tree-type fertilizer. Once
they reach bearing age, fertilize about every 3 to 4 months with a
citrus or fruit tree-type fertilizer.
There are many
varieties of atemoyas available, particularly in southern Florida and
among the most popular are the Geffner, African Pride (also called
Kaller), Bradley, Stermer, Page and several others. Other atemoyas are
grafted to get better production and also to ensure a longer tree life.
On their own roots, atemoyas sometimes do not live as long as they
should. Although there are many rootstocks that are currently being
used for atemoyas, most people prefer atemoyas to be grafted on
seedling atemoyas since there have been problems on some of the other
rootstocks in recent years.
The trees generally are very
well adapted for container culture, too, so people who are limited in
space can grow these in containers and still get enough fruit to make
it worthwhile. The leaves generally are 4 to 8 inches long, lanceolate
or elliptic in shape. The tree has a very light green color and is a
very attractive ornamental specimen for the landscape. There are few
problems of major consequence, although caterpillars might occasionally
chew foliage, and in extreme southern Florida the chalcid fly, which
gets into the fruit and attacks the seeds, can be a serious problem.
you have not tried atemoyas, they are available in some of the
specialty markets at this time of the year and at meetings of the Rare
Fruit Council, they are often brought in for tasting. Trees are
available at local nurseries that specialize in tropical fruits, and of
course, at RFC fruit tree sales.
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