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