Pink Mammoth produces huge fruit weighing up to 550 g, with an average of 24 seeds per 500 g of fruit.
African Pride is a custard apple with fruit which averages 300 g and 36 seeds per 500 g of fruit.
Island Gem has fruit which averages 250 g and 31 seeds per 500 g.
The custard apple is a semi-deciduous tree, growing to 4.5 metres high, with a spread of six metres. The trees should be spaced approximately nine metres apart when you're planting out a small or large orchard. As the trees develop they have a straggly habit and should be carefully pruned for shape during the early years of growth. When they're established the usual practice is to reduce the branches by one third of their size in late winter when the trees are in their dormant stage.
Good irrigation is essential during the flowering and fruit set period to prevent water stress. A humidity of 70 to 80 percent is also desirable at this time to ensure effective pollination. Mature trees and excessively vigorous trees also produce fewer fruiting laterals and reduced reproductive growth. Well made compost applied twice yearly will encourage a moderate level of tree vigour. Poultry manure, being rich in nitrogen, may produce excessive growth at the expense of fruit. Mulch the trees with blady grass hay or similar good quality mulching material. Take care to keep the mulch at least 15 cm from the trunk because young trees (in particular) are very susceptible to collar rot.
The main harvesting period for custard apples is between April and early August, varying with variety and the environmental conditions during the flowering and fruit set period. The fruit is harvested while it's still firm on the tree when the crevices in the fruit skin are a creamy colour.
The only serious pest which affects custard apples is citrus mealy bug. This can be controlled by applications of hot soapy water and white oil. Natural predators of the mealy bug are ladybirds, lacewings, hoverflies, parasitic wasps and birds. Because young trees can be damaged by strong winds, establishing windbreaks before and during early tree development is essential to prevent structural damage. Yes, custard apples do actually taste like stewed apple and homemade custard mixed together. Chilled, they are wonderful for dessert or breakfast.
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