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Custard Apple Diseases and Pests (Sugar Apple): Anthracnose, Black Canker, Diplodia Rot, Leaf Spot, Symptoms, Causes, and Prevention

The Custard Apple tree is an evergreen perennial but deciduous in cold weather and can grow in tropical, the Mediterranean, or subtropical climates and hardiness zones. Custard Apple flesh is delicious, but the skin and seeds aren’t edible. Custard Apple trees are wonderful additions to any garden. They need a sunny space with good airflow and soil that comes out well. They don’t do well in areas where water accumulates in the soil around them. Let’s check out more information about Custard Apple diseases and pests (Sugar Apple) below.

Custard Apple Diseases and Pests (Sugar Apple)
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When left unpruned, they can reach heights of 3 and 6 meters. With an average amount of mulch and water, they can flourish beautifully and produce a substantial yield of tasty fruit. It is a hardy plant that tolerates drought and grows in almost all soil conditions. Rainfed crops are more common, although some farmers incorporate drip irrigation.

Flood irrigation should be avoided. Very few pests and diseases. Whitefly, powdery mildew is often seen but does not affect the plant much. Custard Apple plant needs very little care and is easier to cultivate than other crops that require more care, attention, and money.

Custard Apple diseases and pests (Augar Apple)

Propagation of Custard Apples from seeds

Remove seeds from ripened Custard Apple fruit. Rinse the seeds to remove some pulp. You should soak the Custard Apple seeds in water for a day or two. Throw away those that float, remove others, and put them on a newspaper or paper towel to dry. Plant the seeds 2 or 3 centimeters deep in a container of potting mix. Water and then leave in direct sunlight. Seeds will germinate in 3 weeks or more. When your plant becomes too large for the container, plant it in the place where it will live its life. Seed-grown trees should harvest in 4 to 6 years.  

Grafted Sugar Apple trees usually flower and thrive sooner than those starting with seeds. However, even seed-grown Sugar Apples can bear fruit within two years. If you buy Sugar Apple fruit and harvest its seeds to grow your tree, make sure to buy a variety that’s true to the seed. Sugar Apple seeds can store for three to four years, but the highest germination rate occurs when the seeds are grown a week after harvesting. The germination process can take a month or more with Sugar Apples. You can speed up this process by soaking Sugar Apple seeds in water for three days. However, this will reduce the germination rate, so be sure to soak multiple seeds and select the largest one to plant. 

Growing Custard Apples on the ground

The Custard Apple tree thrives as an evergreen perennial in the tropics. Custard Apple plants can also be grown in subtropical areas but become deciduous in colder areas. When growing, go with well-drained soil that is sandy and loamy. The sand mixture in the garden soil is excellent. The plant forgives poor soil, but waterlogging should be avoided.

In case you missed it: How to Grow Custard Apple/Sugar Apple from Seed to Harvest: Check How this Guide Helps Beginners

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Apply citrus fertilizer every three months until the tree starts bearing fruit. Potash is fed to grow the flowers. Regular fertilization of mature trees is not common, but when done, it is known to increase longevity and slow the decline of trees. Pruning makes your tree manageable for the urban environment and makes fruit production more prolific. It can also make it easier to harvest fruits, placing them at a height you can reach. Water the trees regularly in the dry season. However, during wet, they will be fine without any extra water.

Growing Custard Apples in containers

Custard Apple trees have a long taproots. Therefore, they should be grown in a pot of at least 15 gallons to give this root enough space to grow. It is advisable to start with smaller containers and then move to larger containers. You should fill the container with well-draining potting soil designed for tropical plants. Custard Apples are somewhat drought-tolerant, so keep the soil moist but not soggy. They will die if exposed to temperatures around 0°C. If you keep them indoors, place them in front of a window facing the south. Place the container on the outside patio, deck, or balcony when outdoor weather is suitable.

During the growing season, you should apply a complete NPK fertilizer (6-6-6) every six to eight weeks at a rate of 113 grams per tree. Fertilize slightly more frequently than applied to the ground as nutrients in the container are limited. Containers quickly lose nutrients. Since nutrients quickly drain out of the soil in containers, maintaining a low but frequent fertilizer rate may be more appropriate for Custard Apple trees grown from mature containers.

Diseases of Custard Apple

Anthracnose

Symptoms – The infection starts at the blossom end of the fruit and later spreads to the surface of the entire fruit; the infected fruit shrivels, and it can cling or fall from the tree. Necrotic spots of 2-to-10-millimeter diameter appear on raw fruits that turn from dark brown to black spots. These spots later coalesce and cover the entire fruit.

In case you missed it: Custard Apple Gardening, Tips, Ideas, and Techniques

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Causes – Anthracnose can occur during cold temperatures in early spring and hot, humid weather in summer. The maximum temperature for pathogen growth is between 21 to 27°C, but the disease often occurs when soil and air temperatures are significantly lower or higher than this range.

Prevention – Remove and destroy any infected plants in your garden. For trees, cut down dead wood and destroy the affected leaves. You can try spraying your plants with copper-based fungicides, although be careful as copper can build up to toxic levels in the soil for earthworms and microbes.

Leaf spot

Symptoms
Alternaria leaf spot

Small yellow spots first appear along the leaf margins, which grow slowly and turn into brown patches with thick rings. The severe infection leads to dryness and defoliation. Dark brownish-yellow patches appear on the affected fruit below its attachment with the shoots.

Cylinderocladium leaf spot

Dark purple spots about 1 to 2 millimeters in diameter first develop on the shoulders of the fruit and then spread to the sides. The spots get bigger and then later dry up and crack. The bug is similar in appearance to find damage, but the spots are random in shape, while the bug lesions are round to find, and the damage does not grow very far into the fruit. 

Cause – Relative humidity of more than 70% supports disease combined with warm weather, 12 to 25°C temperature, and intermittent rain.

In case you missed it: Growing Custard Apple in Containers (Sitaphal)

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Prevention – Avoid overhead water to limit leaf wetness, and allow enough space at planting time for good air circulation and sun penetration. Keep your garden free of fallen leaves in all seasons and completely thorough at fall cleanup time. Reduce the shade and improve the air and water drainage of the soil. Avoid dry spots, over-fertilize nitrogen, and maintain the cutting height as high as possible. Avoid prolonged wetting of leaves pre-dawn or irrigating them early in the morning. If possible, increase air movement.

Diplodia rot

Symptoms – Diseased fruits show signs of black spots or blotches confined to the surface of the fruit and finally covered with white mycelia and black pycnidia.It is also distinguished by its dark internal discoloration and extensive corky rotting. Depending on the presence of secondary microbes, the penetrating flesh eventually softens or hardens, and cracks occur. 

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Cause– The pathogen persists in parts of infected plants that act as a source of inoculum. The maximum temperature is 25°C to 31°C, and the relative humidity is 80%.

Prevention – Avoid planting susceptible species on sites that may be more vulnerable to insect injury, disease, or stressful conditions. You should not plant trees near an area already affected by diplopia.

Black canker

Symptoms – Irregularly shaped spots range from small spots to large spots. The tissue damage under the spots is no deeper than 10 millimeters.

Cause– Black canker caused by rainy and wet weather.

Prevention –Treatment for black canker involves pruning and spraying with fungicides. You can’t treat an existing canker with a fungicide, but you may be able to prevent reinfection. Also, treat nearby trees to prevent them from getting infected. Use salt water or baking soda and dissolve one teaspoon of baking soda in 1/2 cup hot water. Put a small amount of magnesia milk on your canker wound a few times daily. 

In case you missed it: How to Grow Mangosteen Fruit from Seed to Harvest: Check How this Guide Helps Beginners

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Pests of Custard Apple

PestCauseSymptomsControl
Mealy bugMealybugs can appear if you give your plants more water and more fertilizer.    The small bugs suck sap from twigs, leaves, and flowers. Infested Custard Apple fruits will have uneven shapes and poor quality.Collect and destroy mealybug-infected leaves, shoots, and fruits. Avoid plant stress. Healthy plants are much less susceptible to the Mealy bug attack.      
Fruit flyMoist and fermented
fruits can attract fruit flies.
The affected fruits shriveled, deformed, rotted, and fell.Collect the fallen infected fruits and destroy them. Feeding fruits in hot water for 60 minutes kills eggs and maggots. Use ten traps per acre of methyl eugenol.      
ScalesThe scale on your indoor plants may appear from anywhere, but these small insects can come from several sources. Perhaps you used contaminated potting soil, left your plants out in hot weather, or reused a pot of dirty plants.Premature leaf drops and shoots cause drying up. Infected shoots or branches die, and the host may also die.      Collect parts of plants and destroy them. Apply well-rotten sheep manure 10 tons per hectare in two parts or poultry manure in 2 splits. Spray dormant oil at the end of winter before spring.      

Conclusion

Custard Apples are not difficult to grow. The tree tolerates a wide range of growing conditions. If you have a warm, sheltered environment and protect the plant from getting cold or cold, you’ll know it’s easy to grow your Custard Apple. Custard Apples are a delicious and relatively easy-to-grow fruit tree that will give you an abundance of sweet, juicy fruit. If you pay little care and attention, your Custard Apple tree will thrive and flourish for many years.

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