Pollinating cherimoya (Annona cherimola) is essential for fruit production, as cherimoya trees require cross-pollination by insects to set fruit. Cherimoyas have male and female flowers on the same tree, but they are protogynous, meaning the female part matures before the male part, reducing the likelihood of self-pollination. Here’s how to pollinate cherimoya trees:
Materials You’ll Need:
- Paintbrush or small, soft-bristle brush
- Ladder (if the tree is tall)
- Access to cherimoya flowers during the flowering season
- Identify the Flowers:
- Observe your cherimoya tree during the flowering season to identify the male and female flowers. Female flowers have a swollen, bulbous base, while male flowers have a slender, cylindrical base.
- Choose the Right Time:
- Cherimoya trees typically bloom in the spring. Pollination is most successful when you perform it early in the morning when the flowers are fresh and open.
- Select a Male Flower:
- Begin by selecting a male flower. It should have matured enough to produce pollen. The male flowers have visible pollen-containing anthers.
- Transfer Pollen to Female Flower:
- Gently touch the anthers of the male flower with a paintbrush or a soft-bristle brush to collect pollen. You should see a yellow or white powder on the brush.
- Locate a Female Flower:
- Now, find a female flower on the same tree. These flowers have a visible stigma at the center, which is the receptive part for the pollen.
- Apply Pollen to the Stigma:
- Carefully transfer the collected pollen from the brush to the stigma of the female flower. Gently brush the pollen onto the stigma, ensuring good contact.
- Repeat the Process:
- Continue this process by selecting other male flowers and transferring their pollen to various female flowers throughout the tree. Cross-pollination between multiple flowers will increase the chances of fruit set.
- Monitor Fruit Development:
- After successful pollination, monitor the developing fruit. Cherimoya fruits take several months to mature. As they grow, they will become larger and change color.
- Thinning Fruit (Optional):
- To ensure the remaining fruits receive adequate nutrients and sunlight, consider thinning them by removing excess, underdeveloped fruit. Leave a few healthy cherimoyas on each branch for better fruit quality.
- Harvest cherimoyas when they are fully ripe. They should be slightly soft to the touch and give off a pleasant fragrance. Ripe cherimoyas are ready to eat.
Remember that cherimoya trees are self-fertile to some extent, meaning they can produce fruit without cross-pollination. However, cross-pollination often results in better fruit production and quality. If you have multiple cherimoya trees, they can help each other with cross-pollination.
Additionally, keep in mind that pollination success can vary based on factors like weather conditions, the presence of pollinators, and the health of the flowers. By manually pollinating your cherimoya tree, you can improve the chances of a fruitful harvest.