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A step by step guide to custard apple farming

By Alex Wachira
Custard apples (matomoko) are highly perishable and have a short post-harvest time thus the need for proper storage and rushing to the market immediately. Photo: KTN News 

 

How to farm sweet custard apples

A step by step guide to custard apple farming

Custard apples (matomoko) have numerous health and nutritional benefits.

They can be consumed when ripe or value-added to make ice cream, juice, milk shakes or desserts.

They contain the antioxidants Vitamin C which helps to fight diseases. They are high in potassium and magnesium which protect the heart against cardiac diseases, controls blood pressure and keeps the skin and hair healthy.

They help in building a good digestive system and weight loss reports selinawamucii.com 

The leaves are said to be good for treating cancer and tumours while the bark relieves toothaches and gum pain according to oxfarmorganic.co.ke.

Custard apple is planted from seedlings but it can also be planted from seeds which take longer time to mature.

They can also be propagated vegetatively through cuttings, layering, grafting or budding.

It is recommended to plant at the beginning of the rainy season for proper establishment of the plant.

A custard apple tree bears fruit in three to four years. Some species start flowering at a young age within one and two years from the seed.

The plant flowers from April to May and bears fruit between August and November according to agrifarming.in

The custard apple fruit varieties include the African Pride variety trees that produce three to four sacks of the fruit when harvested according to media reports.

Custard apples prefer moderately humid conditions and relatively dry settings to grow such as in semi-arid regions states selinawamucii.com

They can do just fine with annual rainfalls of 50 to 80 cm highlights ikoaje.co.ke

They do well well-aerated, well-drained and loamy soils with rich organic matter and PH of 5.0 to 8.0 for optimum growth.

Custard seeds grow best in sandy loam soils but well-structured clay loams are also suitable.

Custard apple planting is done in pits of 60 by 60 by 60 cm at a spacing of four by four metres or to six by six metres depending on the soil type that is mixed with organic farmyard manure.

Grafted custard apple planting is capable of producing commercial yield from two years.

Relatively warm temperatures are recommended with temperatures of 25 degrees Celsius during flowering for good fruition adds selinawamucii.com 

Irrigation and mulching should be done to ensure soil moisture is available; which is essential consistently during the fruit setting and maturation stages to hike yields and lower fruit splitting.

Drip irrigation is highly recommended to ensure high yields and to achieve high-quality superior fruit.

A little pruning is required to regulate the tree canopy and develop a good crown by timely removal of misplaced limbs to build a strong framework which results in better yield.

It is proper to support the plants to avoid wind damage as the tree is sensitive to the wind which can break branches and affect pollination.

Weeds should be controlled by inter-cropping with legumes like beans and peas.

Custard apples are harvested after three to four months.

The fruit is green when unripe and turns yellow or orange when ripe.

The sweet white flesh has a creamy texture similar to that of custard hence its name, notes oxfarmorganic.co.ke.

The fruits are highly perishable and have a short post-harvest time thus the need for proper storage and rushing to the market immediately.

 They should not be refrigerated for long as the fruit loses its aroma and attractiveness notes ikoaje.co.ke.

It is affected by diseases such as bacterial wilt and the most common pests being the trunk borer, fruit borer, mealy bugs, scale insects, fruit boring caterpillar, leaf spot and seed borer as highlighted by farmerstrend.co.ke.

They are controlled by selecting disease-free planting materials and using biological, cultural and chemical methods to deter pests and diseases.

Consumers should however never consume custard apple seeds as they are considered poisonous and diabetic persons should take little quantities of the fruit due to the high starch content highlights selinawamucii.com.

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