Custard Apple Tips

  • “Island Gem” Custard Apple by Ray Johnson of Gin Gin   Why do you want to graft an African Pride asked the local orchardist near Gin Gin. “I’ve got a tree of Island Gem and it’s better than African Pride,” he said. I was looking for another variety to graft on to my Pink’s Mammoth and this sounded like an interesting option. I hadn’t heard of Island Gem before but found a snippet in one of our library books, (“Growing Fruit in Warm Climates: by Brian Cull). He states: “Island Gem is a tree to 12 metres in diameter (that tree needs a prune!) with medium vigour. It begins fruiting in about year 4, producing heavy crops. The fruit are small, thin skinned with a high susceptibility to splitting. The flesh is of good texture, and excellent flavour with a moderate number of seeds. It is the earliest variety in the year. The local orchardist that I mentioned earlier, Barry, says it’s self-pollinating and basically trouble free. His wife calls it their $100 tree because they make that much and more at the local farmers market from this one tree. Besides doing 3 grafts on my Pink’s Mammoth. I’ve started 5 air-layers. Hopefully, they will all take, and I’ll have some to share around.
  • A problem with cherimoya is inadequate natural pollination because the male and female structures of each flower do not mature simultaneously. Few insects visit the flowers. Therefore hand-pollination is highly desirable and must be done in a 6 to 8 hour period when the stigmas are white and sticky. Pollination is done by hand to ensure an abundant crop. This is best done in mid-season of bloom. In early evening, collect in a small bottle the anthers and pollen from the interior of fully open male flowers with a #2 or #3 artists brush. Anthers will be tan coloured and the white pollen falling from them will be obvious. The pollen has its highest viability at the time it is shed and declines significantly with time. Immediately apply freshly collected pollen with a small brush to the flowers in partially open, female stage. If no female stage flowers are available, pollen may be saved in the sealed container under refrigeration overnight. Pollen may then be applied to female stage flowers in the morning. In large-scale operations the pollen may be mixed with inert Lycopodium spores, PVC, starch or talc powder and applied with aspirator-type Japanese apple-pollinators, to save time and pollen. Pollinate every two or three days, and only flowers easily reached inside the tree, to avoid sunburned and wind-damaged fruit. If pollination efforts are quite successful, it may be necessary to thin the fruit. Too much fruit may result in small size and adversely effect future yields.    Ref: © from the NewCROP the New Crop™ Resource Online Program. Published here under Fair Use Analysis 
  • Met a grower from Mapleton at Terry Little’s talk who has 10 Pinks Mammoth & 20 Cherimoya and doesn’t have to hand pollinate. There are no pineapple farms nearby to attract the Nitidulae Beetle which is the usual pollinator of the Pink’s Mammoth but Terry was telling me that the beetle is attracted more to the African Pride than the Pinks. A neighbour keeps bees. Ref: Sheryl Backhouse
  • Defoliate trees about one month before normal budbreak (about August/September in south-east Queensland). Leaves are removed so the buds will come away a lot more quickly, thereby producing an earlier crop. 
  • Patti Stacey from the Custard Apple Growers Association has advised that the new variety Tropic Sun on squamosa rootstock has been released. As stock is limited, trees are being supplied to retail nurseries on order from Fitzroy Nursery. Ask your retail nursery to order from Fitzroy. It is self pollinating on dwarfing rootstock. Seed count is a few more than Pinks Mammoth but much less than African Pride.