Cultivation of Custard Apple

The custard apple which is popularly known as sugar apple and sweetsop is a native of West Indies and tropical America. It is grown in a wild form in many parts of the world. The custard apple tree can reach up to a height of 4 to 7 metres and the structure of the leaves is thin and oblong. However, the flowers are greenish to yellow. The fruit is spherical through conical with a usual weight of about 125 to 250 grams. The fruit is 7 to 9 cm long and has a diameter of 6 to 10 cm. Custard apple has knobby segments with a flesh of fragrant and sweet, creamy white. The flesh the fruit resembles custard. Based on the variety each fruit can have up to 20-30 black seeds. The colour of the root varies from pale green to deep green.

During the early stages, custard apples are hard in nature. Custard apples can be eaten fresh and its pulp is used in sweets like ice cream, smoothies, cakes, fruit salads etc.  Along with great nutritious value, custard apples come with good health benefits. This tree’s leaves, root, seeds and unripe fruits have medicinal values as well. Many hybrid varieties of custard apples have been developed in Asian countries. Since this fruit has an excellent seasonal demand, the cultivation of custard apple is growing annually. Decent yields and profit can be obtained from custard apple cultivation, provided that good orchard management practices are followed. Another attractive feature of custard apple cultivation is that they can be cultivated in containers, backyards, pots as well where at least 6 to 7 hours direct sunlight is available.


  • Red Sitaphal
  • APK
  • NMK1 (Golden)
  • Annona-7
  • NMK-2
  • NMK-3
  • Arkasahan
  • Automoya
  • Chandcilli
  • FingerPrint
  • BxA
  • AxB
  • AxW
  • Cherimoya
  • Hyd Selection Balanagar / Balanagari
  • Mammoth
  • Hybrid (Akra Sahan and African Pride)
  • Washington
  • Purandhar

These are being cultivated in Indian climatic conditions. However, there are other varieties which include:

  • Tropical Sun
  • Thai KG
  • British Guinea
  • Island Gem
  • Atemoya

States Where Custard Apple is Grown in India

  • Andhra Pradesh
  • Telangana
  • Maharashtra
  • Karnataka
  • Bihar
  • Orissa
  • Assam
  • Tamil Nadu
  • Kerala
  • Gujarat
  • Rajasthan
  • Chhattisgarh
  • Andaman & Nicobar
  • Madhya PradeshCustard apple health benefits
    • Are good for gaining weight.
    • Are good for eyes, hair, and skin.
    • Are good for digestion.
    • Are good during pregnancy.
    • May prevent or reduce asthma condition.
    • Are good for heart health.
    • May prevent high blood pressure.
    • Are good for treating anaemia.
    • May reduce blood cholesterol levels.

    It is not advisable for diabetic people to consume this fruit as the consumption of this fruit can cause blood glucose level spike.

    Climate Requirement

    Tropical climates are ideal for custard apple to thrive. Dry, hot and humid conditions favour the growth and fruit set. In cases where there are moderate winter conditions and high humidity during the flowering stage and fruit set can yield to an excellent fruit crop. Frost and severe cold conditions cannot be withstood by the plant. The area which is susceptible to high winds and heavy rains can cause flower and fruit drop and limb damage. The ideal annual rainfall for custard apple cultivation is about 500 mm to 800 mm.

    Soil Requirement

    A wide variety of soil is suitable for custard cultivation provided that there is a good drainage facility. Fertile sandy, shallow, marginal lands and wastelands are all suitable for custard apple cultivation. This tree shouldn’t be cultivated in regions where the sub-soil is ill-drained. Soil with high alkalinity, chlorine, poor- drainage is to be avoided when it comes to custard apple cultivation. Waterlogged soil should be avoided. 5.5 to 6.5 is the ideal pH range for custard apple cultivation.

    Propagation and Seed Treatment

    Propagation can be done using seeds as well as vegetative methods. Seeds are extracted from quality fruits and are used for sowing. The seeds of custard apple can usually last for 2 to 3 years with the best viability. Seed treatment is carried out by soaking the seeds in cold water for 50 to 60 hours. It is then treated with GA3 500ppm for better germination percentage. Grafting and Budding are vegetative methods used for propagation of custard apple crop.

    Land Preparation

    The land preparation for custard apple cultivation is just like any other fruit crop. By ploughing the land two to three times along with a couple of harrowing it is made weed free. With this preparation, the soil can be brought to a fine tilth stage. Drainage channels are also made as a part of the land preparation.

    Seed Sowing, Planting and Spacing

    The planting method of triangular or square systems can be adapted in custard apple cultivation. The seeds can be directly sown on the field or seedlings can be grown on nursery beds. For quick plant growth grafting method is ideal than sowing method. In the case of seed sowing, there is an ideal temperature requirement of 18°C to 26°C. Until full germination, direct sunlight must be avoided. Seeds that grow in these conditions usually produce seedlings within 3 weeks. However, germinating these in colder climates may take up to 60 days.

    The pits are dug with a size of 60cm x 60cm x 60cm at a spacing of 5cm x 5cm (plant to plant and row to row distance). The above-said measurements can vary according to soil variety and planting method. The pits should be ready prior to the rainy season. Fill these pits with topsoil and 25 kg of farmyard manure (like cow dung). Along with FMY, you can also apply single super phosphate and neem cake under dry conditions. Saplings are planted in the centre of pits once the rain starts. The basic requirements like staking, providing shade and watering should be done after planting in the field. You can buy high yielding hybrid custard apple varieties in certified nurseries for your plantation.

    Season for Cultivation

    Generally, a rain-fed crop


    Custard Apple is usually sown as a rain-fed crop. It will be advisable to provide irrigation prior to flowering and fruiting. The plant can be watered until monsoon. Compared to flood or drip irrigation, mist sprinkling irrigation is the method is more suitable. The mist sprinkling method is chosen because it can lower the temperatures and can increase humidity which can encourage flower and fruiting activity.

    Intercultural Operations

    • Care of Yong Plants: The gap filling should be done as early as possible. Replace dead or weak trees as part of a gap filling with the same age of trees.
    • Weed Control and Intercropping: To keep the orchard clean, you should make the weed-free field by removing them regularly. Shallow cultivation between the rows and clean the tree basins can be done. You can also earn some income by intercropping with some short period crops like:
      • Legumes (green gram, black gram, red gram etc.)
      • Peas
      • Beans
      • Herbs
      • Marigold flowers
    • Mulching: It can be done around the base of the plant in order to control the weeds and to retain the soil moisture. This can prevent soil erosion also. Materials like paddy straw, coconut husk etc. can be used for mulching. On decomposition, after a few days, these mulching materials become excellent organic manures. Now a day’s commercial growers using plastic mulch which you can get in the market.

    Training and Pruning

    To establish a strong framework, training and pruning are required, especially during the initial stages of growth periods of the plant. Ensure single stem up to 60 to 70 cm height and induce scaffold branches in all directions. A proper spacing must be maintained between branches by removal of overlapping and criss-cross branches. A suitable combination of young and old branches should be maintained by judicious pruning in custard apple cultivation.

    Manures and Fertilizer

    1 to 2 years – 75:50:50 (NPK) kg/ha

    3 to 5 years – 150:100:100 (NPK) kg/ha

    Above 5 years – 250:125:125 (NPK) kg/ha

    Apart from above NPK, you can add any green manure or farmyard manure every year before the monsoon.

    Pests and Diseases

    It is of critical importance that timely control of pests and diseases is done so that the crop can produce a good yield. Being hardy trees, they are less susceptible to pests and diseases. However, you should be aware of plant protection in case of any disease attack. Trees may suffer from:

    • Mealybug
    • Scale insects
    • Fruit boring caterpillar
    • Leaf spot
    • Anthracnose
    • Black stone

    It is advisable to use appropriate chemical controls. If you are doing organic cultivation then herbal based controls should be applied. Spraying with neem oil is recommended. Your local horticulture department will be a good source of seeking information about pests and diseases in Custard Apple Cultivation. Don’t attempt or experiment on your own without knowing the symptoms and causes of pests and diseases.


    Generally, there is a colour change of the fruit during maturity (from dark green to light pale green). Fruit maturity after flowering takes three to four months. Ripening fruits indicate cracking in carpels. You can hand pick them before sending to market. If you delay in harvesting, they will ripe on the tree and falls off.


    Yield is largely dependent upon the:

    • Variety
    • Tree age
    • Climate
    • Soil
    • Garden management practices

    On an average, a well-grown tree can produce about 100 fruits. The fruits can weigh from 100 to 250 grams. Arka sahana hybrid variety produces 25 tonnes of fruits/ ha. There are many growth regulators available in the market for improving fruit set.


    The fruits that are freshly harvested are packed in cardboards and transported to local markets or fruit processing factories. Distant marketing requires extra care as custard apples have a poor shelf life.