Article from the Tropical Fruit News magazine of the Miami Rare Fruit Council International
by Gene Joyner

The Atemoya

This season of the year is one of my favorite because many of the annona fruits are in season. Particularly good are the atemoyas, which are hybrids between the cherimoya and sugar apple. This fruit is also important as a commercial fruit in southern Florida, but it makes an excellent dooryard fruit throughout many areas that are not subjected to severe freezes.

Atemoyas are small to medium size trees growing to about twenty five to thirty feet at maturity with about the same spread. Flowers are produced along with new growth in the spring following a winter dormant period and the fruit usually begin maturing in late august through the end of October.

Atemoyas look very similar in some cases to sugar apples except they have a smoother skin and the individual segments aren't quite as obvious. Most atemoyas have fewer seeds, too, than sugar apples which makes them a lot more easier to eat as a fresh fruit.

One parent of the atemoya, the cherimoya, is considered one of the finest fruits in the world, but it is only happy at elevations above three thousand feet and does very poorly when grown at sea level. When it is hybridized though with the sugar apple, which is a low land fruit of good quality, the resulting hybrid called atemoya is very excellent and in some people's opinion almost as good as a cherimoya, although I think cherimoyas still are better.

The flesh in atemoyas is white, but not as soft and custard-like as the sugar apple which is one of the parents. Because of this firmer flesh, this makes the atemoya much better as a shipping fruit and this has resulted in its commercial planting in many areas around the world.

The atemoya fruit vary in size from about three to seven inches and generally are oval or sometimes almost round. Fruits have a light green skin which does not change color appreciable at maturity, only the fruit gets soft.

Fruits can be eaten fresh or used for many types of desserts such as milkshakes and ice cream. Since it is a hybrid, it is not reproduced by seed and all commercial production is by grafting.

There are many varieties available, but the Gefner is probably the probably the most widely planted. Also excellent in quality are the Page, Priestly, African pride, which is also known as kaller, stermer and mammoth.
Trees prefer well drained fertile soils for best growth and production and should be fertilized three to four times a year with a complete fertilizer. Trees when mature are fairly cold hardy and will take temperatures down to 27 degrees F. before they sustain serious damage. Young trees though will be injured by temperatures below 30 degrees f..
When planting atemoyas, even though they have some salt tolerance, do not plant in the extremely exposed coastal areas where strong salt winds might burn foliage. Trees lose their leaves generally in the late fall or earIly winter for a period of about two months before leafing out in the early spring.
Usually considered a small to medium sprawling tree, atemoyas can be fruited successfully in large containers and many people find that this is an excellent specimen plant for use in large containers where limited yard space is available.

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 Atemoya Page


Joyner, Gene. "The Atemoya." Miami Rare Fruit Council International – RFCI, Tropical Fruit News, May 1993, p. 9. 

Published 30 Jan. 2016 LR
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