How to Grow Custard Apple/Sugar Apple from Seed to Harvest: Check How this Guide Helps Beginners

Sugar apples, also called Custard Apples or sweetsops, look like large berries or immature clusters of bananas. The taste is, as much as the name implies, a custard flavor with a hint of an apple. Although they sometimes taste like a cross between Papaya and Apple, they are sweet when they ripen. The Custard Apple fruit is green from the outside with soft, creamy white, soft textured flesh. Custard Apple tree leaves have a special type of fragrance; they are remorseful and narrowly lanceolate shaped and are 4 to 8 inches long.

How to Grow Custard Apple/Sugar Apple from Seed to Harvest
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Custard Apples are found in different sizes and colors, rounded and conical, and made of a knobby segment with a thick hole. The size of the Custard Apple is 4 to 6 inches. Custard Apple fruit is different in color from green, and it has a creamy flash inside the fruit, which is delicious food in taste. Dark brown or black seeds are there inside the fruit that looks bright and shiny. 

How to grow Custard Apple/Sugar Apple from seed to harvest

How long does it take to grow Custard Apple from seed?

  • It’s easy to plant a Custard Apple tree, but you’ll need sunny space and well-drained soil. The color of the Custard Apple is different from green; there is a creamy flash inside the fruit, which is delicious food in taste.
  • Custard Apple seeds are hard, so soak the seeds in water and leave them for three days before planting. This gives you success in the process of germinating seeds. And after leaving the seed, put it on a freezing paper or towel.
  • Keep the soil moist, as a warm and humid environment is needed for seeds to grow. Custard Apple seeds germinate very rapidly from 18°C to 30°C. It takes about three weeks to germinate.
  • Custard Apple grows from seed and will produce fruit within 3 to 4 years. Custard Apple fruits are rich in potassium and magnesium, which protect us from heart diseases.

How long does it take for Custard Apples to bear fruit?

  • It takes 20 to 25 weeks for the fruit to reach maturity in a subtropical climate where the days are not too hot and the nights are not too cold. 
  • Custard Apple thrives best in dry and hot climates. It requires light soil and is usually grown on slopes of hills. Plants are grown from seeds and bear fruit in about 3 to 4 years. The flowers of the plant bear fruit from April to May and between August and November.

Why is my Custard Apple not fruiting?

  • It may be that your Custard Apple tree is not bearing fruit due to the long period of hot weather. What you can do to encourage fruit order is to pollinate using a small paintbrush to carry pollen from the male flower to the female flower.
  • The flowers come during the hot, dry climate of May, but the setting of fruits occurs at the beginning of the monsoon. Low humidity is harmful to pollination and fertilization. Custard Apple withstands cloudy weather conditions from drought and when temperatures drop below 15°C. Annual rainfall of 50 to 80 centimeters is the maximum, although it can withstand excess rainfall.

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

Custard Apple
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Can Custard Apple trees be grown in pots?

  • Growing a Custard Apple plant in a pot allows you to bring it in, where you can better control air temperature, humidity, and soil moisture. And a half-wine barrel planter works well. 
  • You should fill the pot with potting soil and plant trees so that the top of the root ball is level with the potting soil. The soil level in the pot should be about 3 inches below the edge of the pot.
  • You should grow Custard Apple trees in at least a 15-gallon pot to give this root enough space to grow. Fill the container with well-draining potting soil designed for tropical plants. Maintain moisture around the plant by placing a tray of water with it. Custard Apples are drought-tolerant, so keep the soil moist but not soggy.

How do you plant custard seeds?

  • Wrap your Custard Apple seeds in a piece of paper towel. Soak the seeds with a little water and place them in a Ziplock bag with a paper towel. Let your seeds soak for three days, and then plant them. Alternatively, you can scarify Custard Apple seeds. 
  • Place the seeds on the soil and fill the pot with soil. Water well and locate the pot indirect sunlight. Keep the soil moist, as the seeds require a humid and warm environment. Custard Apple seeds grow rapidly (about three weeks) in temperatures between 18°C and 25°C.

What season do Custard Apples grow?

  • Custard Apples grow best in dry and hot climates. However, one fruit you should try is Sitaphal or Custard Apple, which is widely available in the autumn season.
  • The production of trees started in the third year. Single crop (4 to 5 pickings) from August to October in South India and September to November in North India.

Do Custard Apple trees need pruning?

  • It is essential to start pruning and training Custard Apples by planting them. Start pruning in the form of an open vase shape and maintain this shape for the first four years. Then keep the canopy open so the light can penetrate and achieve fruit distribution throughout the canopy. 
  • Trees should be selectively cut annually to maintain maximum fruit production. About one-third of last year’s vegetative growth should be removed during early spring (February/March) as trees commence bud break. 

What is the best fertilizer for Custard Apple?

  • You should give 250 grams of nitrogen, 125 grams of P2O5, and 125 grams of K2O per plant before the start of the rainy season to Custard Apple-bearing trees.  
  • Feed the young tree with a complete fertilizer every 4 to 6 weeks during the growing season. Next, apply a 2 to 4-inch layer of mulch around the tree within 6 inches of the stem to maintain moisture and regulate soil temperature. 
  • Fertilizer formulations suitable for Custard Apples include 2-8-8, 4-8-8, 6-6-6-3, or 8-3-9-5, or similar materials.
  • Use healthy, certified, and weed-free seeds. In the rainy season, planting work is done at a distance of 4 meters x 4 meters. Add Trichoderma and Mycorrhiza mixture 50 grams per pit at the time of planting. Apply 300 grams of fertilizers in equal proportion in each pit in a mixture of urea, single superphosphate, and muriate of potash. 
  • Fertilize your Custard Apple tree every 6 to 8 weeks with a balanced fertilizer such as 10-10-10. Fertilize around the base of the tree, on the drip line, and water it thoroughly.

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

Custard Apple Tree
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How tall does a Custard Apple tree grow?

  • They can achieve a height of more than 30 feet but can also be pruned to prevent their growth. Young trees grow together and form a natural espalier that can be trained against a wall or fence. 
  • Custard Apples are medium-sized trees that typically reach 15 to 40 feet. They are not considered beautiful trees, so they are usually grown for food production rather than decoration. As a result, the Custard Apple tree is not particularly attractive. It stands with a round or spreading crown and trunk 10 to 14inch thick.

How do you induce flowering in Custard Apples?

  • Unusual flowers have two whorls, numerous stamens, and six to eight fleshy curved petals in the pistil. Fruits are often scaly and succulent and sometimes segmented. 
  • Pruning and defoliation are essential to inducing off-season flowers by targeting the quality and quantity of fruits. The fruit in Custard Apples is in the growth of the current season.

How do you increase the yield of apple custard?

Mild to severe drought stress can reduce the size of Custard Apple fruits by 10 to 50 percent. It is therefore recommended to water Custard Apple trees from time to time to increase the quality and yield of fruits. It is necessary for water from flowering time till harvesting.

How many seeds are in Custard Apple?

A thick, cream-white layer, somewhat grainy, fleshy-colored, moderately juicy segments under the skin, many of which have a single, hard, dark brown or black, shiny seed, long, smooth, and less than 1/2 in length. The actual seed count has been 55, 60, and 76. A pointed, fibrous central core attached to a thick stem extends more than halfway through the fruit. 

Do Custard Apples ripen off the tree?

  • You can buy Custard Apples that are still hard to touch. If so, let it ripen over several days before eating. Keep the Custard Apple fruit in a brown paper bag with a banana and leave it on the kitchen bench to increase the speed of ripening. The fruit will not ripen under 14°C so store hard fruit between 8°C to 12°C for five days. 
  • Custard Apple ripening usually occurs when the fruit is strong and sweet, not tarty at all, and the whole fruit is soft when squeezed gently, but not too soft, or it will be watery, and its flesh can be brown and overripe.  
  • A sign of good quality, the ripened Custard Apple has a pale green tone across the fruit. This shows that it is ready to eat. On the other hand, if the fruit is dark green, it indicates that it is unripe. 

In case you missed it: Top 20 Steps To Boost Your Apple Fruit Yield: Fruit Size Increase Tips and Ideas

Custard Apple Farming
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Why do Custard Apples go black?

  • Anthracnose infection starts at the blossom end of the fruit and later spreads to the surface of the entire fruit; the infected fruits wilt and can cling to the tree or fall. Necrotic spots of 2 to 10 millimeters appear on raw fruits that change from dark brown to black spots.   
  • Sugar apple turns black due to too many sugar apples on a tree. If you pollinate your tree by hand and the tree is too small to catch many fruits, it will naturally become somewhat black so that it can focus on a few. 

How do you care for a Sitafal plant?

Custard Apple needs the sun combined with the wind during cool marine night-time air. They perform well in various soil types but thrive in well-draining, medium-sized soils with moderate fertility and a pH of 6.5 to 7.6. During the growing season, water the tree at a depth of two weeks and then stop watering when the tree becomes dormant.

Which climate is suitable for Custard Apple?

  • Custard Apple plants are tropical and grow well in hot and dry climates with varying degrees of difference. Custard Apple requires hot, dry climates during flowering and more moisture in the fruit set. The flowers come during the hot, dry weather of May, but the order of fruits occurs at the beginning of the monsoon.  

Is Custard Apple a perennial?

  • The Custard Apple tree thrives across the tropics as an evergreen perennial. It can also be grown in sub-tropics, but it will become deciduous in colder areas. When growing, go for sandy and loamy, which is well-drained soil.
  • Custard Apples are of local importance as traditional medicine, and many varieties are commercially grown for their edible fruits. Members of the genus are usually evergreen or semideciduous plants and cannot tolerate frost.

In case you missed it: 16 Common Banana Tree/Plant Problems: How to Fix Them, Solutions, and Treatment

Custard Apple Harvest
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Can Custard Apple be grown at home?

  • It is not possible to grow a Custard Apple tree indoors. Choose a heavy container that is wider than deep to place the shallow roots of the sugar apple tree. A half-wine barrel with drainage holes works well with this tree.
  • Custard Apples need deep well-drained soil, so a house is not ideal unless you have a lot of space and can accommodate a deep pot, which the plant will need.

Where do Custard Apple trees grow?

  • Custard Apple trees prefer well-drained humus-rich soil. A tropical to sub-tropical fruit like hot conditions and good moisture. However, very high temperatures are not suitable; ranging from 25°C to 28°C is most ideal for the maximum fruit set.
  • They require humus-rich deep soil and are usually grown in valleys where they are protected from strong winds. They don’t like frost. Drainage is important, and planting on mounds is advisable to improve drainage in heavy soil areas.
  • These are semi-deciduous trees, and they will drop some of their leaves in the winter. However, being relatively insect-free, they are well-suited to grow organically. In addition, removing the competition of roots is better because they are shallow-rooted plants.
  • Mulching around the root zone up to the drip line will help maintain moisture and reduce weeds under the tree. Pollination is the main reason for poor fruit production. You can grow Custard Apples from seeds; however, cultivars of the name usually produce high-quality fruits.

How much fruit will a Custard Apple tree produce?

  • Custard Apples have a cropping advantage in late winter and spring. It is picked when it turns to pale green color and ripens without splitting, so it can be easily sold in the local markets. If picked green, it will not color well and will be of poorer quality. The tree is naturally a quite heavy bearer. A mature tree with proper care will produce 34 to 45 kg fruit annually. 

How much water does a Custard Apple tree need?

  • You should water the Custard Apple tree every week or whenever the soil starts drying while the tree is growing actively. Water every 2 to 4 weeks during winter, so the soil does not dry completely. You can feed with water-soluble fertilizer designed for fruit trees or 2-8-8 formulas every 6 to 8 weeks. 
  • Custard Apples are tropical and grow well in hot and dry climates with varying degrees of difference. Custard Apple requires warm, dry climates during flowering and more moisture in the fruit set. The flowers come during May’s hot, dry climate, but the fruit setting occurs at the beginning of the monsoon. 

In case you missed it: Best Fertilizer for Orange Trees: Organic, NPK Ratio, Management, Schedule, How and When to Apply

Custard Apple Plant
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Does Custard Apple need sunlight?

  • It’s easy to plant a Custard Apple tree, but you’ll need sunny space and well-drained soil. The color of Custard Apples is different from green; there is a creamy flash inside the fruit, which is delicious food in taste.
  • Sugar apples perform best in full sunshine. You should not plant Custard Apples in the shade as it will result in no fruit. You should choose a location that receives 4 to 6 hours of direct sunlight daily.

Conclusion

It’s not very difficult to grow a Custard Apple tree at home if you correct the basics. First, choose suitable cultivars with a proven record of producing good quality fruits. Grafted plants are available in most nurseries. You can also try sowing Custard Apple seeds, but they take a long time to grow and establish themselves; there is no guarantee of strength or vigor.

Your plant needs well-drained, light soil and sunlight, and well-drained space. When parts of each fruit begin to separate, they are ready to pick. Get these fruits before the bats and ripen them in straw or a box of rice. Pluck them gently when they’re soft and squishy, and enjoy your homemade Custard Apples’ soft, fragrant sweetness.

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