The fruit of the soursop tree has a spiny outer skin with a soft, heavily seed-laden pulped interior. This small evergreen tree produces the largest fruit in the Annonaceae family and is often a lopsided heart shape. The white segments of the soursop fruit are primarily seedless, although a few seeds are present. The seeds and bark are toxic and contain poisonous alkaloids such as anonaine, muricine, and hydrocyanic acid.
- Seedlings are 7 months of age and fruit in less than 4 years.
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Soursop seedlings mature to become low-branching, bushy tree, Annona muricata, which is known as soursop in English. The soursop tree, which can grow from 25 to 30 feet tall, produces an oval-shaped fruit with tender yellow-green skin and white, juicy flesh often made into drinks, sherbet, preserves, and sweets.
Nursery/ Transplantation of Soursop Seedlings
- Transplant 12-inch-high seedlings into the yard in the spring, spacing them at least 12 feet apart.
- Dig holes large enough to contain the root ball of each plant.
- Cover the base of the plant with soil, then add 3 inches of mulch to keep it moist.
- Water soursop plants often enough to keep the soil moist, but not wet, during hot weather.
- When the weather turns cool in the winter, reduce water intake. Soursop plants tolerate drought well but can develop pest problems if kept too wet.
- Treat soursop plants with 10-10-10 fertilizer.
How to Grow Soursop Trees
- The soursop tree can reach a height of 30 feet and is soil tolerant, although it flourishes in well-drained, sandy soil with a pH of 5-6.5.
- A tropical specimen, this low branching and bushy tree does not tolerate cold or strong sustained winds. It will, however, grow at sea level and up to elevations of 3,000 feet in tropical climes.
- A rapid grower, soursop trees produce their first crop three to five years from seeding. Seeds stay viable for up to six months but better success is met by planting within 30 days of harvest and seeds will germinate within 15-30 days.
- Propagation is usually through seeds; however, fibreless varieties can be grafted. Seeds should be washed before planting.
Soursop Tree Care
- Soursop tree care involves copious mulching, which benefits the shallow root system.
- Overly high temps from 80-90⁰F (27-32⁰C) and low relative humidity cause pollination issues while slightly lower temps and 80 percent relative humidity improve pollination.
- Soursop trees should be irrigated regularly to prevent stress, which will cause leaf drop.
- Very little pruning is required once the initial shaping is attained. You should only need to prune out dead or diseased limbs, which should be done once harvest is over. Topping the trees at 6 feet will facilitate harvesting.
Harvesting Soursop Fruit
- When harvesting soursop, the fruit will change from dark green to a lighter yellowish green tone. The spines of the fruit will soften and the fruit will swell.
- Soursop fruit will take between four to five days to ripen once picked. Trees will produce at least two dozen fruit per year.
Harvest soursop fruit while it is still firm and yellow-green in color. Do not allow the fruit to soften on the tree. Instead, store firm fruit in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days until it becomes soft to the touch.
Specification: Soursop Seedlings
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