Soursop farming can be practiced in a warm and humid tropical region. It is an economic tree that is widely consumed in most part of the globe. The botanical name of soursop is Annona Muricata of the family Annonaceae.
The common name is soursop but it has several other names such as; Guyabano, Brazilian pawpaw, prickly custard apple etc. It is native to America but now widely grown all over the world including Nigeria.
Soursop plant can grow up to 6m tall with many distinctive features that makes it stand out from other plants:
The leaves are large; dark shiny green that appears leathery, the flowers are very large too with yellow or greenish-yellow colour.
Their fruits appear in a heart shape and are large with varying sizes and can grow anywhere in the trunk.
Spiny (small) shapes cover the body of the fruits. And has about 100 or more black non digestible seeds inside.
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The pulp is very fleshy, soft and milky white in colour. The juice appears almost like a yoghurt drink, with acidic sour taste. The flesh can be eaten with bare hands. And can be used in making smoothies, candies, fruit juice, deserts etc.
Every part of the tree is medicinal and very useful to man. It is nutritious, medicinal and economical.
The tree is small in size as such can be intercropped with large trees of other economic fruit trees. Soursop can be cultivated through seeds, cuttings (marcotting), budded and grafted seedlings.
HOW TO START SOURSOP FARMING
To start commercial soursop farming you have to put these into consideration; land, seeds or seedling variety, space, manure, irrigation etc.
The land should be purchased in a forested region or where it won’t be disturbed. If you already have a family land that is okay.
Use variety that produces big fruits. I will advice you go for hybrid soursop. It can resist pest and diseases, matures faster (3years), produce big and plenty fruits etc. Buy the seeds from established seed companies.
There are two varieties; the sweet soursop which is mostly for eating and the sour variety which is for processing.
The space should be large enough to accommodate the number of seedlings you want to plant.
Make provision for water, drip irrigation is ideal for soursop farming.
In this post a step by step detailed guide in applying the above mentioned techniques is outlined.
Clear the land and remove all the unwanted trees, shrubs and grasses, heap them in one place so that it can be used for mulching or compost.
For a large expanse of land, plough twice if necessary for a deep planting, harrow once. Till the soil for easy movement of root and water.
Soursop grows in a well-drained sandy-loam soil; with an acidic PH of about 5.0-6.5.
Remove the seeds from the fruit; wash and dry them but the seeds must be from a well matured diseased free fruit. Prepare a nursery bed and sow the seeds in a depth of 1cm, space between 2cm-3cm apart.
Mulch and water the bed regularly. Within 25-30 days, the seeds will germinate; you then transfer them to nursery bags or containers when the first set of leaves are matured.
Water them immediately after transferring and provide partial shade for the soursop seedlings. Finally transfer them to the main field when the seedlings are about 6-7 months old.
The seedlings should be mulcted or partially shaded because soursop grows well in humid and warm conditions; they are affected by very high or low temperature. A temperature of 28°C-32° is good for optimum growth.
Space soursop 4m x 4m – 7m × 7m in rectangular, square or triangular form. Plant between 205-630 in square pattern, 235-720 in triangular pattern.
Prepare the planting layout plan first before you start cultivating the seedlings. This will help you to know the number of seedlings it can accommodate.
Dig a hole 50cm wide and 50cm deep; put the seedling inside the hole and cover with the top soil. Apply water immediately after planting.
PRUNING/INTERCROPPING IN SOURSOP CULTIVATION
Prune soursop the same way it is done to hibiscus, cocoa plants etc. It will allow free movement of air in the farm, good light penetration, straight and neat branches etc. Make sure you remove twigs and water sprouts; diseased and decayed branches.
Intercrop with crops that can be harvested fast or within a year example; cassava, vegetables; maize etc. It will help in suppressing weeds as well as provide capital when sold for the maintenance of soursop plantation until harvest. After 3 years plant perennial trees such as plantain, orange, mango etc.
Organic fertilizer is encouraged, it could be dung or compost or both. Use appropriate ratio of NPK 10:10:10 quarterly (if that is what you are using). First year 225kg/tree; second year 45kg; third year 1.36kg.
Continue with 1.36kg ievery other year. Apply manure at the beginning of raining season or when the rain is about going or after every 6 months.
Add ammonium sulphate 21:0:0 one month after planting. Increase the quantity of manure you apply every year until the start fruiting; you then apply 250-300 grams of fertilizer, NPK 15:15:15. Increase the quantity every year from 1.5kg-3.0kg.
For vigorous growth apply potash (muriate, 0:0:60) to make sure micronutrients is supplied.
IRRIGATION IN SOURSOP FARMING
Soursop can withstand harsh conditions, however for healthy growth you have to apply water. Stop watering the crops during flowering because the need dry condition to induce synchronous flowering. But you have to be watchful as prolong drought will result in mass dropping of soursop leaves.
Don’t leave the crops to compete with weeds because it will result in stunted growth and unhealthy plants. Weed twice or thrice a year with machines or manually by the use of hoe or cutlass. You can pay a good number of labourers to do the weeding.
Use compost to mulch soursop plantation. This will help in moisture conservation.
PEST/DISEASE CONTROL IN SOURSOP FARMING
Common pests are root grubs, carpenter moth larva, oriental fruit fly, mealy bugs etc.
Common diseases are root rot, anthracnose, pink disease etc.
Burn disease plant parts, remove fruits that have fallen. Use chemical or neem oil for treatment.
Soursop starts flowering after 3 years and fruits the same year; it continues fruiting every other year in great numbers. The fruuts should be harvested when they are fully developed and greenish in nature. Leave it for about 2-4 days to ripe. A tree soursop can yield between 60-70 fruits in a year. Their peak period is between May-June but the fruit all year round.
When soursop is matured for harvest, the spine set themselves far apart and the shiny green colour becomes dull or yellowish-green.
All the fruits doesn’t mature the same time like coconut tree, select only the matured fruits for harvest. You can click here to learn coconut farming.
Supply to market men and women who are eagerly waithing for the fruits. Locate companies such as ice cream and beverages that make use of them.
Advertise your product through available platforms for more patronage.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF SOURSOP
Every part of the tree is medicinal; the roots, stems, bark, fruits, leaves. Maybe that is why it is called miracle tree just like moringa tree. Click here for moringa farming.
Soursop contains nutrients such as fatty acids, vitamin c, iron B1, B2, Magnesium etc.
It is an anti-aging , anti-diabetic, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and anti-tumor. Good in; boosting immune, liver tonic, sedative and laxative.
HOW TO PREPARE SOURSOP PLANT FOR CANCER TREATMENT
- Take a handful if soursop leaves and stems, wash and cut them to tiny sizes.
- Boil with 1 litre of water until it reduces to half.
- Sieve and pour into a container
- Take a glass of 100ml morning and evening.
- You can use natural sweetener such as honey, dates, sugarcane juice to mix it. Just in case you cannot drink as it is.
- The juice of soursop can be added to ice cream for flavour. The flavour is a mixture of strawberry and pineapple..
- Soursop fruit is good for lactating mothers because it increases breast milk.
- It helps in cooling down feverish conditions.
- Prevents heart problems, hypertension, palpitation, menstrual disorder and difficulty in child-birth. But shouldn’t be taken during pregnancy as it can stimulate the uterine.
Enough of waiting too long for fruit trees to produce you can shorten it through budded and grafted seedlings cultivation.
Soursop farming can be done with the use of container or at your backyard because the trees are small.
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